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Birmingham’s Bronze Valley wins federal grant to support entrepreneurial development

Bronze Valley has been awarded a grant by the U.S. Economic Development Administration (EDA), a bureau of the U.S. Department of Commerce. The $284,500 grant, which will support Bronze Valley’s strategy for making startup funding more accessible to entrepreneurs from underrepresented ethnic, gender and income groups, was announced July 23.

“We are extremely pleased and excited with our success in this competitive grant process,” said Bronze Valley President Neill S. Wright. “Minority and female entrepreneurs are changing the face of business and technology with every success. The EDA grant will further our mission of making more and greater success possible for groups that historically have been underfunded and often underestimated.” 

Bronze Valley is one of 18 entities nationwide — and three in the Southeast — to receive funding through the EDA’s Regional Innovation Strategies (RIS) Seed Fund Support grant competition for 2019. The grants provide funding for capacity-building programs that assist innovators, entrepreneurs and organizations that support startups with early-stage funding. According to EDA, the competition is part of its commitment to “fostering connected, innovation-centric economic sectors that support the conversion of research into products and services, businesses and ultimately jobs through entrepreneurship.”

Specifically, the grant to Bronze Valley will support the Empower Alabama Fund. Created to recruit and deploy seed-stage capital and otherwise ensure the presence of funding opportunities that will help scale a diverse innovation ecosystem, the fund also focuses on maximizing the impact of federally designated Opportunity Zones on economic growth in Birmingham. Bronze Valley’s goal over the next three years is to invest in 20 startups with an average investment of $50,000, and to educate 150 startups and 300 private investors through its Startup & Investor Education Program. The longer-term goal is to expand the Empower Alabama Fund beyond the Birmingham region.

“We have tremendous opportunities,” Wright said. “Bronze Valley is bringing innovation, ideas and thought together with capital and mentorship to create change. Through those efforts, we can help improve the lives of not only individual entrepreneurs, but of our community, our state, our region and the nation as a whole.

“Winning this grant is part of that process, and another step that we can continue to build on,” he said.

Launched in late 2017, Bronze Valley is working to create an education-to-opportunity-to-outcome pipeline for ethnic minorities and women in technology careers, the entrepreneurial ranks and other fields in which innovators will lead the way in creating the jobs of the future. In addition to providing access to capital, Bronze Valley’s efforts are concentrated on workforce development and providing value-added services to entrepreneurs.

(Courtesy of Alabama NewsCenter)