U.S. Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo this week announced the department’s Economic Development Administration (EDA) had awarded a grant to the city of Fairhope to create a business resource hub for technology entrepreneurs.
The grant will help renovation efforts at the Fairhope K-1 Center, located in Downtown Fairhope, according to a release.
The Baldwin Community and Economic Development Foundation manages the business property, which was purchased from the Baldwin County Public School System in 2018.
The grant will be funded by the EDA’s Economic Adjustment Assistance Program, which oversees a total of $500 million that was federally funded out of the America Rescue Plan Act.
In addition to the grant, the city is matching 20%, bringing total investment in the facility to $3.125 million. Most of this match will be covered by an earmark from U.S. Rep. Jerry Carl (R-Mobile), who appropriated $750,000 to the project in early 2022.
Carl advised in the announcement, “Our country was built on hardworking entrepreneurs starting businesses and creating good paying jobs, so today’s announcement is exciting news and will ensure Fairhope continues to grow and lead for years to come.”
Hatch is a business resource hub for technology-based entrepreneurs. It is based on a pilot program conducted in South Carolina by Clemson University. The programs and companies launched by Hatch programs in South Carolina generated an estimated 12 to 14 companies and 70 new jobs in the first 18 months of operation.
Lee Lawson, president and CEO of BCEDA, said, “Growing entrepreneurial companies has always been a part of our strategy, Hatch Fairhope creates an environment where new tech companies can network, thrive and create local, high-paying jobs.”
Renovation of the facility is planned to begin in the fall of 2022 and be completed in 2024. The investment is intended to build an entrepreneurial ecosystem that will attract further companies and investments across the country to the Baldwin and Fairhope areas.