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Innovation Commission releases recommendations to boost innovation, entrepreneurship

Governor Kay Ivey and Condoleezza Rice joined state leaders Tuesday to share the Alabama Innovation Commission’s policy recommendations.

Governor Kay Ivey gave remarks at the Innovation Commission Press Conference at The Grand Bohemian Hotel Tuesday December 14, 2021 in Mountain Brook, Ala. (Hal Yeager)

Governor Kay Ivey and Condoleezza Rice, the 66th U.S. secretary of state and director of the Hoover Institution, joined state leaders Tuesday to share the Alabama Innovation Commission’s policy recommendations and announce the Alabama Innovation Corporation board of directors as part of a shared vision to grow Alabama’s economy through innovation and technology.

“The Alabama Innovation Commission has done incredible work, and I’m excited to see how we as a state can implement smart policies that will foster innovation and develop a talented workforce for the future,” Ivey said. “I’m inspired by the promising growth for Alabama’s economy, and I look forward to working with the Alabama Legislature and the Alabama Innovation Corporation to help Alabama reach new heights.”

Ivey established the commission and its advisory council in July 2020 with a charge to develop forward-thinking policy recommendations and ideas to create a more robust, inclusive economy that supports entrepreneurship, innovation and technology. The commission, led by Alabama Finance Director Bill Poole and state Sen. Greg Reed, brought together private-sector experts and policymakers to develop legislative priorities for Alabama to remain competitive. The advisory council, led by Alabama Power Executive Vice President Zeke Smith, included innovation leaders from across the nation, and a partnership with Hoover Institution research scholars led by Rice, to support the commission’s work.

“I’m proud to be a daughter of Alabama, and believe that Alabama’s education, job training and workforce development can be second to none. This state is poised for an even greater future here and we are excited to be a part of that,” Rice said. “The Hoover Institution will continue to partner with the state and the Alabama Innovation Corporation to support this initiative as Alabama continues to push for strengthening its economy so life can be good for all Alabamians.”

Poole added: “I’m proud of the commission’s work and know that its efforts will have a tremendous impact on our state. The ideas, recommendations and strategies in this report give us a path forward for how Alabama can be a leader in the fields of innovation, technology and research. I look forward to seeing partners from private and public sectors continue working together through the Innovation Corporation to grow our economy.”

Ivey also announced board members of the Alabama Innovation Corporation, a public-private partnership established by the Legislature in 2021, which will be responsible for implementing the initiatives and policy recommendations set forth in the report.

Members of the Innovation Corporation board of directors are:

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  • Governor Kay Ivey (ex-officio)
  • Alabama Speaker of the House Mac McCutcheon (ex-officio)
  • Senate President Pro Tempore Greg Reed (ex-officio)
  • House Minority Leader Anthony Daniels (ex-officio)
  • Senator Minority Leader Bobby Singleton (ex-officio)
  • Rich Bielen – President and CEO, Protective Life Corporation (at-large director)
  • Dr. Michael Chambers – Assistant Vice President for Research Innovation, University of South Alabama (at-large director)
  • Abe Harper – President, Harper Technologies (at-large director)
  • David King – President, Dynetics (at-large director)
  • Bill Poole – Director, Alabama Department of Finance (chairman)
  • Britney Summerville – Founder, Birmingham Bound (at-large director)

The policy recommendations and findings detailed in the report center on five areas that address current challenges. The recommendations will foster entrepreneurship, create jobs, build a talented and diverse workforce and support economic development opportunities, Ivey said. Each of these components works together to provide a favorable environment for starting or growing a business.

  • Entrepreneurship and Access to Capital: Identifying and supporting opportunities to fuel entrepreneurial development at every stage of business growth.  
  • Talent Attraction and Retention: Recruiting and retaining a workforce with the skills, knowledge and credentials necessary to create innovation ecosystems throughout the state.  
  • Increasing Commercialization: Fostering an environment that increases commercialization activities, research and development efforts and supports the state’s economy as a whole.  
  • Bridging Digital and Economic Divides: Leveraging initiatives and resources that support growth throughout Alabama.  
  • Knowledge Economy: Developing a skilled workforce ready to meet the demands of the future.  

“These policy recommendations are a culmination of 18 months of hard work, time and effort from a variety of different highly qualified individuals and organizations working together to chart a strong path forward for our state’s economy, and I couldn’t be any happier with the product that the commission was able to produce,” Reed said. “This report outlines a road map to spurring entrepreneurship, startup businesses and innovation in our state, and I look forward to seeing the impact it will have on the future of Alabama.”

“In today’s ever-changing world, innovation is essential for how we elevate Alabama for economic prosperity in all corners of our state,” Smith said. “It was an honor to serve as president of the advisory council, and I look forward to working together to ensure that Alabama is well-positioned for success in a 21st Century economy.”

The Alabama Political Reporter is a daily political news site devoted to Alabama politics. We provide accurate, reliable coverage of policy, elections and government.

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