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Rep. Bill Poole on technology sector, startups: ‘We have a lot of growth potential in this area’

HOOVER — During Friday’s Alabama Economic Growth Summit, a panel entitled, “Capitalizing on tech and innovation momentum,” was held.

Britney Summerville, vice president of community engagement of Birmingham-based Shipt, moderated the discussion. Panelists were State Rep. Bill Poole (R-Tuscaloosa), chairman of the House Ways and Means Education Committee; Miller Girvin, CEO of Alabama Capital Network; and Matt Hottle, CEO of Redhawk Venture Group and manager of Alabama Futures Fund.

The conversation soon turned to a piece of legislation, the Alabama Incentives Modernization (AIM) Act, sponsored by Poole and Senate Majority Leader Greg Reed (R-Jasper) that was signed into law this year.

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The AIM Act was praised as being integral to the new formation of the Techstars Alabama EnergyTech Accelerator, a partnership between Alabama Power Company and a worldwide network that helps entrepreneurs succeed.

However, Poole warned that it was still early as far as being able to gauge the success of the AIM Act. He said the initial wave of feedback he has received from the technology sector has been “mixed” and strongly encouraged more stakeholders to reach out with their input.

Poole also stressed that the legislation is “just the beginning” of what the state of Alabama needs to do to best position itself to foster growth in the technology sector and help startups thrive.

He added that “other vehicles” (meaning new legislation and/or executive branch actions) will be proposed in the near future, including this coming session, to update and build off of the AIM Act. Poole will be taking feedback and turning it into solutions where needed.

The powerful state legislator specifically mentioned better aligning the state’s research institutions with the tech and startup efforts.

With these world-class institutions involved, Alabama’s pro-business climate, low cost of living and metro areas like Birmingham and Huntsville boasting high quality of lives, Poole outlined that the technology sector in the Yellowhammer State could be the next boon, following in the footsteps of industries like automotive manufacturing, aerospace and defense.

“We have a lot of growth potential in this area,” Poole emphasized.

Sean Ross is the editor of Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn

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