Rep. Anthony Daniels, D-Huntsville, talked to APR last week about HB247 and why he is sponsoring the legislation, Innovate Alabama, and the criticisms against economic incentives.
HB247, part of the “Game Plan” economic legislative package, is focused on spurring small business and entrepreneurial growth. The legislation dubbed The Innovation and Small Business Act should establish a tax credit program that will make $25 million a year available to support small businesses.
Daniels stated he is sponsoring the bill because of the intentionality to assist underrepresented small businesses.
“It focuses on woman-owned, veteran-owned, minority owned businesses,” Daniels said. “Many of which very rarely have the opportunity to get an infusion of capital in the form of a grant to help them continue to do their research and development. So it’s extremely important we’re targeting our efforts to veteran-owned, woman-owned, minority-owned businesses.”
Daniels believes that the plans, programs, and opportunities the legislation will offer for entrepreneurs could help Alabama potentially become the “silicon valley of the south.”
The bill also mentions Innovate Alabama frequently which is a public-private partnership focused on entrepreneurship, technology, and innovation. The partnership is focused on enhancing the entrepreneurial spirit in the state and has several grant programs designed to help small business owners.
However, there is a provision in the statute that would exempt working groups, task forces, and subcommittees of Innovate Alabama from the Alabama Open Meetings Act. This law gives the public open access to agencies, boards, commissions and other governmental bodies which conduct public business.
When asked about the provision and the issue of transparency Daniels stated that while he did not necessarily support the provision he felt that he still had to support the legislation because of the benefits the bill presents. Daniels, who is a member of Innovate Alabama’s Board of Directors, also stated all of their meetings so far were open to the public.
“Sometimes there are bills out there that individuals may not be 100 percent on board with everything in it but the good outweighs the bad,” Daniels said. “We don’t have anything to hide and we’ve been very open with our meetings.
The leadership of Innovate Alabama besides Daniels, includes:
- CEO – Cynthia Crutchfield
- Board Member – Alabama Senate President Pro Tem Greg Reed, R-Jasper
- Board Member – Governor Kay Ivey
- Board Member – Bill Poole, Director for the Alabama Department of Finance
- Board Member – Rep. Danny Garrett, R-Trussville, Chair for the Ways and Means Education Committee
- Board Member – Senate Minority Leader Sen. Bobby Singleton, D-Greensboro
- Board Member – Rich Bielen, President and CEO, Protective Life Corporation
- Board Member – Dr. Michael Chambers, Associate Vice President for Research, University of South Alabama
- Board Member – Abe Harper, President, Harper Technologies
- Board Member – David King, Former Group President and CEO of Dynetics and former Director of the Marshall Space Flight Center
- Board Member – Britney Summerville, Founder of Birmingham Bound
Daniels also addressed criticisms against the bill and the economic incentives. Critics including Sen. Arthur Orr have expressed concerns with how the incentives will be funded and Daniels stated that in order to continue to grow budgets and expand the money in the state the incentives are necessary.
Daniels said that there is plenty of opportunity in Alabama to make a difference but people have to be made aware.
“There are opportunities in Alabama, we just have to make certain we are making people aware of the opportunities that are here.”
The bill was signed into law by Ivey on April 20 and took immediate effect.”