Dr. Condoleezza Rice, the Birmingham native and former U.S. Secretary of State, recently met with members of Alabama’s startup and technology community to share her experiences as well as to discuss opportunities and challenges facing the state’s emerging innovation sector.
With vast experience in the technology sector, Rice currently serves on the board of Dropbox and has served on the board of the Hewlett-Packard Company. Since 2009, Rice has served as a founding partner at RiceHadleyGates, LLC, an international strategic consulting firm based in Silicon Valley and Washington, D.C. The firm works with senior executives of major companies to implement strategic plans and expand in emerging markets.
Entrepreneurs, university representatives, investors, business owners and technology and innovation leaders from across the Yellowhammer State gathered at a luncheon with Rice for an open discussion about how Alabama can better position itself for success in the 21st century economy.
According to a release, Miller Girvin, CEO of Alabama Capital Network, moderated the conversation with Rice and facilitated a discussion with attendees on important issues such as workforce development, venture capital investments, partnerships, job growth and state policies.
“This was an opportunity for investors and supporters to meet with Dr. Rice and share stories of success, challenges and ideas for growing Alabama’s entrepreneurial sector,” Girvin stated. “People are starting to notice the momentum in our state, and I hope this event will further incite both conversation and action around the future of Alabama’s innovation economy.”
During the event, Rice reportedly commended the Alabama Incentives Modernization (AIM) Act. This legislation, sponsored by State Rep. Bill Poole (R-Tuscaloosa), was passed during the 2019 regular session and sets forth new incentives to attract tech companies in all corners of the state. Rice encouraged leaders to continue discussing policies, initiatives and collaborations that will spark job growth in this modern sector.
The AIM Act was also a featured topic during the Alabama Economic Growth Summit in recent months, when Poole and Girvin both sat on a panel and discussed potential growth for Alabama’s innovation sector.
Zeke Smith, Alabama Power Company’s executive vice president for external affairs, was on a separate panel during the summit that also discussed the AIM Act.
In a statement following the event with Rice, Smith said, “The passage of the AIM Act was a positive step forward in prioritizing Alabama’s entrepreneurial and technology ecosystem. We know that for Alabama to remain competitive in a growing technology-based economy, we need to develop additional policies that support future growth.”
“These forward-thinking policies will play an important role in driving our economy forward and inspiring the next generation of innovators,” he concluded.
At the event, Rice also reportedly spoke about how Alabama is a place where startups can be successful; she further advised attendees regarding the opportunity for the state and local leaders to capitalize on this. Additionally, Rice discussed her experience in Silicon Valley and shared how she is encouraged by the intentional collaboration, partnerships and celebrated successes among Alabama’s entrepreneurs, universities, research institutions, large companies and the public sector.
Sean Ross is the editor of Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn