Blog

Florence Culinary Incubator Stirs Entrepreneurship Dreams

February 21, 2017

The Florence-based Shoals Entrepreneurial Center is home to a culinary incubator that offers a fully equipped, FDA-approved commercial kitchen for fledgling startups to rent at reasonable rates.

Beyond that, the center’s staff provides coaching for their culinary clients, with advice on everything from marketing and packaging to volume production and distribution networks.

“We ask them, ‘Who in the grocery store are you going to knock off the shelf?’” said Giles McDaniel, the SEC’s executive director. “We try to encourage them to find a special niche first, and we’ve got local grocers and farmers markets where they can try it out and get their feet wet.

Shoals Innovation Week

February 20, 2017

Shoals Innovation Week is officially underway!  The Shoals Chamber of Commerce’ Youth Leadership group provides feedback today  to one of the Shoals Alabama Launchpad finalist, Sycamore Physician Contracting, as they prepare for the finals.  Sycamore Physician Contracting is one of 5 finalist competing for a piece of $100,000 tomorrow, Tuesday, February 21st at 4 p.m. at Gas Design Center in Tuscumbia, Alabama.

Good Luck to All the Finalists—Alchemy Jewelry Spray, Luxe BrandnSideSouthern Swaddle , and Sycamore Physician Contracting!!!!!

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SHOALS INNOVATION WEEK BREAKFAST KICKOFF EVENT

February 16, 2017

SHOALS CHAMBER INNOVATION OVER EASY

INNOVATION WEEK BREAKFAST KICKOFF EVENT AT THE SHOALS ENTREPRENEURIAL CENTER

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

7 a.m. – 8:30 a.m.

See what is new at the Shoals Entrepreneurial Center and how you might use our resources to better your company or learn more to help your clients.  This free breakfast event is open to all business principals, chamber members, and interested community members.

The Jobs Will Change and So Will We

February 13, 2017

Published on February 12, 2017 | Featured in Economy, Technology, Your Career

Dean Barber: President/CEO at Barber Business Advisors, LLC: The Place ProfilersFeatured in: Economy, Technology, Your Career

In this blog and in my talks around the country, I frequently harp on my belief that we are only in the early stages of a new digital machine age that will transform our lives and our entire notion of work.

To communities, to which I provide economic development consulting, I would advise that you embrace and, indeed, become the future. It is the safest bet to relevancy.

To companies, to which I provide site selection/location analysis consulting, I would advise that you look to those communities that are becoming the future. They are the safest bets from which to operate.

And what is this future? To some degree, it is already here — robots and computers performing a range of routine physical work activities better and more cheaply than humans.

But it will not stop there. The machines will become increasingly capable of accomplishing activities once considered too difficult to automate, such as making tacit judgments, sensing emotion, or even driving.

In short, this new digital machine age of robotics, artificial intelligence, and machine learning will change the daily lives of everyone.

Already Here

We know it to be big because it already has been. Automation has enabled manufacturers to make more than ever before, at a much lower cost. U.S. factories now manufacture twice as much as they did in 1984, with one-third fewer workers, according to the Federal Reserve.

I was somewhat amused this past week when I read a professor’s remarks on LinkedIn, apparently lamenting that automation was being employed by companies to “save a few dollars.”

No doubt, the concept of efficiently competing in a world marketplace escapes him. A human welder may earn $25 an hour, a robot welder costs around $8 an hour over a five-year period, according to estimates from the Boston Consulting Group. BCG says the cost could fall to $2 an hour in the next 15 years.

Does that make it morally wrong for a company to use welding robots? Apparently so, according to this professor, who believes it is a primary duty for industry to employ as many people as it can. But that is not reality.

Fewer Jobs Required

The decades-long decline of U.S. manufacturing employment (plunging from 18.9 million jobs in 1980 to 12.3 million today) and the highly automated nature of the manufacturing sector would indicate that the “job intensity” of U.S. manufacturing will continue to decline over the long term as digital technologies advance.

“In 1980 it took 25 jobs to generate $1 million in manufacturing output in the U.S. Today it takes five jobs,” wrote Mark Muro, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution.

Automation improves productivity, reduces errors, and improves quality and speed, all of which is very good if you own the factory. If you are a worker in that plant, well, your job could be at risk.

Visit Linkedin.com for the more on this story.

Shoals Innovation Week Schedule of Events

February 9, 2017

JOIN US FOR THIS INAUGURAL EVENT

SHOALS INNOVATION WEEK

FEBRUARY 2017

TUESDAY 21st

7:00—8:30 AM

SHOALS CHAMBER INNOVATION OVER EASY SHOALS ENTREPRENEURIAL CENTER

See what is new at the Shoals Entrepreneurial Center and how you might use their re- sources to better your company or learn more to help your clients. The free breakfast event is open to all business principals, chamber members and interested community members.

4:00—8:00 PM

SHOALS ALABAMA LAUNCHPAD FINALE GAS STUDIOS | 109 W. 6th | TUSCUMBIA

Watch as Shoals Alabama Launchpad participants pitch in front of judges & an audience for a share of $100,000. Anyone interested in being a part of the entrepreneurship community is invited to this free event.

WEDNESDAY 22nd

11:30—1:30 PM

GROW YOUR BUSINESS PANEL DISCUSSION UNA COMMUNITY ED / EAST CAMPUS

Join a discussion with panelists Giles McDaniel, SEC; Carolyn Long, SBDC; Caitlin Holland, SCC; Doug Barrett, UNA Institute; Moderated by Mary Marshall VanSant, UNA CE. Each panelist has up to 7 minutes to introduce them- selves. Then a moderated discussion with the attendees to dig deeper into how to work together to accelerate success for their clients and the entrepreneurs. lunch is available by reservation at contact information below.

$15 per person. Call 256-765-4107 or email innovation@una.edu for lunch reservations.

6:00 PM

NEXTGEN SHOALS INNOVATION AWARDS FLOBAMA | 311 N. COURT STREET

Be a part of a fast-paced fun evening that recognizes and rewards startups that inspires us to be at the leading edge of tech communities. Led by the Chamber’s Next Gen group, this premier event is certain to be an annual must go. The tech community, chamber members, and interested community members are invited to attend.

THURSDAY 23rd

4:00—5:30 PM

VIDEO GAMING FOR LEO CON

FLORENCE LAUDERDALE PUBLIC LIBRARY

Attend a free gaming demo at a Business Afterhours precursor that includes UNA and Teen Club members competing in selected video games promoting the upcoming May Leo Con. Open to students, parents,

players and the public.

5:30—7:00 PM

CHAMBER BUSINESS AFTERHOURS FLORENCE LAUDERDALE PUBLIC LIBRARY

This after-hours highlights the ways the community is able to use the Collaboratory and get acquainted with the staff who are there to assist. Chamber members are encouraged to attend this free event.

FRIDAY 24th

11:30—1:00

BIZ BUZZ: SINGLE LOCK RECORDS FLORENCE LAUDERDALE PUBLIC LIBRARY

Hear the story of Single Lock Records at Biz Buzz, sponsored by the Shoals Chamber of Commerce, UNA College of Business, and the Shoals Entrepreneurial Center. Biz Buzz is free and open to the public.

 

INFO: INNOVATION@UNA.EDU

256-765-4107

SMART START WEEKEND 24-26

SMART START WEEKEND: 3RD FLOOR OF THE UNA COMMONS: Friday night kicks off Smart Start Weekend, A three-day event for students to ex-change business start up ideas, focusing on 4-6 ideas that cover the course of the weekend to develop a company. This year’s program uses a new format based on the very successful Innovation Engineering tool set. Students will come away with a clear path towards building a company and then present their ideas to a panel of local investors. The public is invited to be part of the finale starting AT 5:00 PM on Sunday, January 26.

 

PARTIALLY FUNDED BY A GRANT FROM THE APPALACHIAN REGIONAL COMMISSION

A SHOALS SHIFT MOVEMENT

Shoals Entrepreneurial Center Announces Partnership with Strategic Networks Group

January 30, 2017

For Immediate Release: Contact:

Giles McDaniel

Shoals Entrepreneurial Center

(256) 760-9014

Contact: Michael Curri

Strategic Networks Group

(202) 558-2128

SHOALS ENTREPRENEURIAL CENTER ANNOUNCES PARTNERSHIP WITH STRATEGIC NETWORKS GROUP TO CREATE JOBS AND GROW BUSINESSES THROUGH DIGITAL ECONOMY PROGRAMS

Today, the Shoals Entrepreneurial Center in Florence, Alabama announced that Shoals Shift (a grant project funded by the Appalachian Regional Commission) will include business assistance and workforce development programs developed by Strategic Networks Group (SNG). SNG is an economic development partner that specializes in accelerating the understanding and meaningful use of broadband applications. This programming drives numerous economic advancements including increasing local business competitiveness, job creation, and new economic opportunities. Working together, the Shoals Entrepreneurial Center and SNG will gather the necessary intelligence to turn broadband potential into local business growth – measurable in jobs, business retention and expansion, and increased tax base brought to the region.

Focused on economic advancement through broadband utilization, SNG is a group of economists who develop strategies for most effectively leveraging broadband investments. SNG addresses broadband utilization from the individual organization level all the way up to working with more than ten states across the United States. SNG looks to help make the most broad-reaching and transformational impacts that broadband can bring to enable businesses, communities, and regions by delivering the data and analysis decision makers need to maximize broadband’s potential.   SNG’s charter in the region is to help businesses embrace and better use the internet and its applications to compete and grow (learn more about SNG at www.sngroup.com).

Shoals Shift, a partnership of the Shoals Entrepreneurial Center, the University of North Alabama, and the Shoals Chamber of Commerce, will utilize SNG’s comprehensive and industry-leading eSolutions Benchmarking to help develop digital strategies for the region. Also included in this partnership will be the Small Business Growth Program, a unique approach to show businesses the quantifiable economic impacts that inspire greater utilization of Internet applications.

Central to this exciting initiative will be inviting businesses across nine counties to share their needs and uses of the Internet and applications for developing plans and programs to help businesses grow through technology.

Businesses across the counties of Colbert, Franklin, Lauderdale, Marion, Walker, and Winston in Alabama, as well as Alcorn and Tishomingo in Mississippi, and Lawrence in Tennessee, will be invited to participate in an online analysis that evaluates their needs and issues related to adopting Internet applications.

Giles McDaniel, Executive Director of the Shoals Entrepreneurial Center, explained that the SNG component of Shoals Shift will help accelerate the growth of a digital economy, “We encourage as many businesses as possible to share their needs and experiences through our online analysis to ensure that they have the tools to succeed. Business/organization participation is critical so that we can benchmark how we are doing across our region to effectively move forward in today’s digital economy.”

SNG’s Small Business Growth Program, supported by Shoals Entrepreneurial Center, the University of North Alabama, and the Shoals Chamber of Commerce is uniquely suited to assist businesses in taking practical actions to benefit from today’s technologies by providing personalized evaluations, Internet use scorecards, and paths relevant to each business to improve their sales, marketing, and operations performance via online applications and opportunities.

“SNG’s programs are specifically designed to help businesses grow and create job opportunities,” explains Michael Curri, president of SNG. “We’re thrilled to be able to provide the tools to help expand the region’s economic base. Watch for more details once the online analysis is available.”

Shoals startup, Ark Labs, reaches semifinals at worldwide competition

November 16, 2016

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The Ark Labs recently traveled from Florence, AL to Lisbon, Portugal for Web Summit, “Europe’s Largest Technology Marketplace,” where they met potential investors, other companies, and startup professionals.

On top of the amazing experiences they had and the relationships that were formed, Ark Labs represented North Alabama exceptionally well. Not only was Ark Labs selected as one of 200 companies to pitch in the pitch competition, but they then made it to the semifinals where only 33 companies were selected to pitch again.

The judges and the audience were impressed as  CEO, Robbie Hillis, explained how their product will play a small part in changing the world. From learning water patterns to preventing damage to saving water, there was nothing else like The Ark Labs at Web Summit.

A few other teams from America attended Web Summit, but The Ark Labs was the only Alabama group to represent startup communities in Alabama, North Alabama, and The Shoals.

Investors and professionals in attendance offered great advice to move Ark Labs forward and improve both its product and its brand.

Ark Labs has taken off quicker than they ever expected and excelling at Web Summit was yet another sign of their success.

We are proud to have Ark Labs represent the Alabama startup community and want to offer appreciation for their role in saving money and water for the rest of the world.

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Propel Expo Highlighting Shoals Shift POWER Grant

October 18, 2016

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Please visit Eventbrite to register.

Great Opportunities for Shoals Area Entrepreneurs!!!

October 11, 2016

  • SHOALS ALABAMA LAUNCHPAD
    • Shoals Alabama Launchpad is for new, independent ventures in the pre-seed, seed, startup or early-growth stages, or for the expansion of an existing business into a new high-growth market.
    • Ventures that have raised equity capital totaling $1 million or more from sources other than team members or their friends and families, or that have realized more than $3 million in sales in the 12 months immediately preceding the competition are not eligible
    • This is a 4-month long process that includes an application, business plan submission and two live pitches. There will be two “cuts” along the way.
    • Businesses who make it to the finale may receive a share of $100,000! Awards and amounts will be determined by the six-person judging panel.
    • More information can be found online at  Shoals Alabama Launchpad or on Facebook
    • The deadline to apply is October 17th.
  • IDEA AUDITION
    • Shoals Idea Audition is for ANYONE WITH AN IDEA. You are not being judged on the viability of your business, but by the ingenuity represented by your pitch.
    • Ventures that have raised equity capital totaling $250,000 or more from sources other than team members or team members’ friends and families, or that have realized more than $750,000 in sales in the twelve (12) months immediately preceding the competition are not eligible
    • Entrants will receive “pitch training” and will pitch their idea to a group of judges during a one-night competition on Thursday, November 17th.
    • First-prize is $5,000! Second place is $2,500 and third place is $1,000.
    • More information and applications can be found online at Shoals Idea Audition or on Facebook
    • The deadline to apply is November 6th.

You may apply for both of these competitions if your business fits the stated guidelines for each.

If you have any questions about Idea Audition or Shoals Alabama Launchpad, please do not hesitate to contact me at (256) 764-4661 or cholland@shoalschamber.com. Also, please share this information with anyone you know who may be interested. I hope to see many of you apply!

NextGen Shoals – Speed Networking Event

September 19, 2016

Have you ever been to a networking event and left without being able to speak to someone you really wanted to make a connection with?

Have you ever been to a networking meeting and sat through the agenda without getting that personal interaction and growth you want from a professional group?

If you answered yes to either of those questions then this event is for you (and everyone else)! Join us on Tuesday, September 20th at 6 for an awesome speed networking event followed by a social hour, or few! Doors open at 5:30! Also, Shoals Chamber members get 50% off their tickets by using “ShoalsChamber” as a discount code!

Remember: due to limited seating, you must pre-register for this event here:

Event Brite