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Gov. Kay Ivey, Condoleezza Rice discuss economic growth, innovation; Alabama Innovation Corporation board established

State leadership on Tuesday announced the seating of the Alabama Innovation Corporation board of directors, a legislatively-established public-private partnership.

Gov. Kay Ivey and former U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice were on hand at the announcement, where they discussed efforts to grow the state’s economy.

In July 2020, Ivey established the Alabama Innovation Commission and its advisory council to develop policy recommendations aimed at spurring economic growth centered around entrepreneurship, innovation and technology.

During the announcement, the commission unveiled its report of policy recommendations, which the Alabama Innovation Corporation board will be charged with implementing.

According to the governor’s office, the commission’s report focused on five key areas to address current issues facing Alabama’s economy. This included entrepreneurship and access to capital, talent attraction and retention, increasing commercialization, bridging digital and economic divides, and workforce development.

Ivey hailed the commission’s work and struck an optimistic tone regarding the outlook of the state’s economy.

“The Alabama Innovation Commission has done incredible work, and I’m excited to see how we as a state can implement smart policies that will foster innovation and develop a talented workforce for the future,” proclaimed Ivey. “I’m inspired by the promising growth for Alabama’s economy, and I look forward to working with the Alabama Legislature and the Alabama Innovation Corporation to help Alabama reach new heights.”

The commission’s efforts were led by Alabama Finance Director Bill Poole and Senate Pro Tem Greg Reed (R-Jasper), who drove collaboration between the private sector and policymakers.

The state’s finance director suggested that the commission’s work was critical in developing plans to drive future innovation in rapidly emerging fields in the modern economy.

“I’m proud of the commission’s work and know that its efforts will have a tremendous impact on our state,” said Poole. “The ideas, recommendations and strategies in this report give us a path forward for how Alabama can be a leader in the fields of innovation, technology and research. I look forward to seeing partners from private and public sectors continue working together through the Innovation Corporation to grow our economy.”

Reed echoed the sentiments expressed by Poole and outlined the commission’s work in concluding what efforts the state needed to partake in to achieve its goals toward fostering an innovative economy.

“These policy recommendations are a culmination of 18 months of hard work, time and effort from a variety of different highly qualified individuals and organizations working together to chart a strong path forward for our state’s economy, and I couldn’t be any happier with the product that the commission was able to produce,” advised Reed. “This report outlines a road map to spurring entrepreneurship, startup businesses and innovation in our state, and I look forward to seeing the impact it will have on the future of Alabama.”

The commission’s advisory council was led by Alabama Power executive vice president Zeke Smith and included innovation leaders from across the nation. The council’s work was supported by a partnership with Hoover Institution research scholars led by Rice.

“In today’s ever-changing world, innovation is essential for how we elevate Alabama for economic prosperity in all corners of our state,” said Smith. “It was an honor to serve as president of the advisory council, and I look forward to working together to ensure that Alabama is well-positioned for success in a 21st century economy.”

The 66th U.S. Secretary of State spoke to her Alabama roots and asserted that the state was well-positioned to benefit from future economic growth.

“I’m proud to be a daughter of Alabama, and believe that Alabama’s education, job training and workforce development can be second to none,” declared Rice. “This state is poised for an even greater future here and we are excited to be a part of that. The Hoover Institution will continue to partner with the state and the Alabama Innovation Corporation to support this initiative as Alabama continues to push for strengthening its economy so life can be good for all Alabamians.”

Members of the Alabama Innovation Corporation board of directors are as follows:

  • Governor Kay Ivey
  • House Speaker Mac McCutcheon (R-Monrovia)
  • Senate President Pro Tem Greg Reed (R-Jasper)
  • House Minority Leader Anthony Daniels (D-Huntsville)
  • Senator Minority Leader Bobby Singleton (D-Greensboro)
  • Rich Bielen – Protective Life Corporation president and CEO
  • Dr. Michael Chambers – University of South Alabama assistant vice president for research innovation
  • Abe Harper – Harper Technologies president
  • David King – Dynetics president
  • Bill Poole – Alabama Department of Finance director
  • Britney Summerville – Birmingham Bound founder

Dylan Smith is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @DylanSmithAL

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