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Opinion | Investing in Alabama’s Innovation Economy

Funding opportunities and incentives for entrepreneurs and high-tech companies is crucial to creating a more resilient, inclusive and robust economy.

Bill Poole
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Governor Kay Ivey has clearly established economic development as a top priority for her administration since her first day as Governor, and we’ve certainly seen the return on this investment. Alabama’s economy is strong, industries are thriving, jobs abound, and more businesses than ever want to locate and grow here. 

Alabama’s contributions to technology and innovation are poised to make a major impact across industries on a global scale. As chair of the Innovate Alabama Board of Directors, I believe that enhancing funding opportunities and incentives for entrepreneurs and high-tech companies is crucial to creating a more resilient, inclusive and robust economy to remain competitive in a 21st-century world.

With Governor Ivey announcing her economic “Game Plan,” the Alabama Legislature now has the responsibility and opportunity to accelerate this upward momentum by passing legislation to enhance and renew the Alabama Jobs Act and Growing Alabama Credit. These incentives have proven to be extremely impactful to Alabama’s economy. From the Port of Mobile to the Shoals, nearly every corner of our state has benefitted from these incentives since their passage in 2015.

During the 2023 session, lawmakers will consider legislation to renew and modify the Alabama Jobs Act and Growing Alabama Credit to be even more effective for more people, industries and areas of the state. The passage of this legislation will sustain Alabama’s economic growth by stimulating the creation of high-paying jobs, sparking growth in rural areas and supporting small businesses.

First, the proposed Innovating Alabama Tax Credit will create a competitive incentive that will empower Alabama to meet increasing demand as new tech accelerators and programs for small, innovative businesses continue emerging across the state. This is necessary to expand entrepreneurship, drive economic growth and transform Alabama into a hub for technology and innovation. 

Secondly, this renewed legislation should include a specific focus on supporting underrepresented businesses and enterprises in innovative industries. Supporting our state’s women- and minority-owned businesses is critical to strategically developing and strengthening Alabama’s economy across all regions. A rising tide lifts all boats.

Alabama is a top competitor among neighboring states in recruiting new employers and jobs. The current success of the tech and startup industry in Alabama shows that we have a talented and motivated workforce that entrepreneurs and employers can utilize, but we must focus on retaining our best and brightest so that our children have career pathways here in Alabama. With a continued and increased investment in our innovation economy, we can be a premier state to do business, not only in the Southeast, but in the nation.

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I encourage Alabama legislators to renew the Alabama Jobs Act and Growing Alabama Credit with these adjustments so our state can reach new heights as a global innovation leader and competitive economy where innovators grow roots.

Bill Poole chairs the board of directors for Innovate Alabama, the state’s first public-private partnership dedicated to advancing innovation and entrepreneurship.

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