Innovation PortAL Will Nurture Business Start-ups

The Business View – June 2016 / From the Publisher – Bill Sisson

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There continues to be a lot of talk about innovation and entrepreneurship here in Mobile and across the country. And we should be talking about it. Entrepreneurship has been the driving force of American employment for decades. Simply stated, helping to keep our local economy strong is tied directly to our willingness to promote the start of new business ventures.


According to data from the U.S. Census Bureau net employment growth rate in this country would be negative without the jobs created by start-up businesses. It is for that reason the Chamber and its partners at the city, county and University of South Alabama are working together to bring Innovation PortAL to downtown Mobile.


The PortAL will be located in a 35,000-square-foot building on St. Louis Street. The building will be owned by the Chamber Foundation and open for clients sometime within the next two years, once it undergoes extensive renovations to update the space into a modern, state-ofthe-art facility.


The Chamber has hired Hayley Van Antwerp to serve as the PortAL’s executive director, and she has already begun work attracting private funding and applying for federal grants to pay for purchasing of the building and renovations of the facilities.


Additionally, she will be recruiting clients to the PortAL. By design, the clients at the PortAL will greatly benefit from the availability of business, financial, legal and human resources experts who will volunteer their time on site. Because the PortAL companies share office space, the start-ups can easily bounce ideas and experiments off one another, which will be invaluable.


Fostering entrepreneurship and “growing our own” is a sound economic development strategy. Entrepreneurs create job opportunities for not only themselves, but for others. It will be gratifying for this community to see that occur at Innovation PortAL, right in the heart of our metropolitan region.


Click here to read The Business View – June 2016