These bills, which were a top priority of the Alabama Innovation Commission, will put our state on the path towards a brighter future

MONTGOMERY, Ala. – Senators Greg Reed (R-Jasper) and Rodger Smitherman (D-Birmingham) released the following statements after two pieces of priority economic development legislation passed the Senate today.

HB 540, sponsored by Senator Greg Reed in the Senate and Rep. Bill Poole (R-Tuscaloosa) in the House, would establish the Alabama Innovation Corporation. This entity would act as a public-private partnership to promote specific initiatives in support of statewide entrepreneurship, rural businesses, research and development at existing companies, and access to advanced tech skills that will drive a modern workforce.

The corporation would primarily be charged with making Alabama a hub for technology and innovation, supporting activities and initiatives that enhance this growth in all corners of our state.

“This bill is an important priority of the Alabama Innovation Commission, which I serve on as vice-chairman, and will have a strong impact on our state’s future. Through the establishment of this statewide commission, we will be able to focus in on the innovation, technology and entrepreneurship-related issues that will be critical in giving Alabama the tools needed to grow our economy and allow our state to continue to be a great place to do business,” Reed said. “The corporation will be under the management of a board of directors, which will include representation from the Governor, the legislature, and six at-large directors that have expertise and experience in growing an entrepreneurial economy.”

Reed continued: “I thank Representative Bill Poole, who serves on the Alabama Innovation Commission as its chairman, for his work on this bill and moving it out of the House. As we look at ways to drive our state forward, it is clear that the ability to innovate will assist in our efforts to foster a more inclusive, robust and resilient economy across the state.”

The second innovation bill passed today, HB 609, sponsored by Rep. Jeremy Gray (D-Opelika) in the House and carried by Senator Smitherman in the Senate, would create the Innovate Alabama Matching Grant Program to promote research and development in the Yellowhammer State.

The program would match federal awards to Alabama-based Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) or Small Business Technology Transfer Research (STTR) recipients. SBIR and STTR awards are helpful for companies with technologies that can be commercialized, supporting entrepreneurs throughout a large array of industries, including biotechnology.

“This is a golden opportunity for our small businesses in general, and our minority-owned businesses in particular, to be able to grow and advance because this legislation prioritizing the focus on underrepresented companies for awards,” Sen. Rodger Smitherman said. “These bills also provide an avenue for our HBCUs and all universities to partner with small businesses by developing a marketing campaign which ensures that underrepresented companies and HBCUs are aware of the grants available through the SBIR and STTR programs. It’s a win-win for our state.”

“These economic development incentives will allow the state of Alabama to match grants from the federal government to encourage businesses, entrepreneurs and employers to come to Alabama make our state home,” Reed said. “This will have an immediate impact on our state, and I appreciate Representative Gray for sponsoring it in the House, and Senator Smitherman for carrying the bill in the Senate.”