North Alabama lawmakers, educators and entrepreneurs discuss challenges at roundtable

Lawmakers, rural community leaders, higher education leaders and entrepreneurs gathered in Athens on Thursday for a regional roundtable hosted by Innovate Alabama and Launch 2035.

The discussion focused on current North Alabama opportunities related to entrepreneurship, marketing, and building an innovative and skilled workforce.

The roundtable encouraged collaboration to address common challenges, including retaining talent to meet labor needs and improving the capital resource landscape for rural entrepreneurs.

“Through this roundtable, Innovate Alabama’s goal is to connect local and state policy makers with leading entrepreneurs and higher education leaders across North Alabama to learn more about some of the obstacles that these leaders face as they work to move this region forward,” Rep. Anthony said. Daniels, board member of Innovate Alabama. “As a representative of District 53, I am grateful to serve the North Alabama community and to work with regional partners, such as Launch 2035 and Alabama A&M, who are at the forefront of the growth of ‘Inclusive and Prosperous Economy in Northern Alabama.’

Founded in 2014, Launch 2035 is a regional economic partnership that began with the goal of uniting Limestone, Madison and Morgan counties to deliver regional economic growth over the next 20 years and realized its potential by focusing on three strategic areas: land use, labor and entrepreneurship. Today, the organization has grown to include all of North Alabama through coordinated planning and collaborative efforts among local businesses and community leaders in each county.

One of the key Launch 2035 initiatives highlighted during the roundtable is the singing river Tracka 200-mile greenway system that leaders hope can strengthen regional ties among 16 North Alabama cities while creating new opportunities for health and wellness, education, economy, tourism and entrepreneurship for these communities.

“The opportunities are endless when we bring people together from different corners of Alabama to develop innovative opportunities that improve our region’s economic landscape,” said Rob Hamilton, president of Launch 2035. excellent example. Working with public and private sector leaders in multiple counties, we developed a product that would leverage our region’s outdoor recreation assets to increase our state’s economic footprint. We are excited about the conversation today and those to follow. This is the start of a long partnership between our state and regional leaders as we continue to unlock the incredible potential of northern Alabama.

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With numerous colleges and universities spread throughout North Alabama, the regional roundtable included a discussion of graduate recruitment and retention challenges.

“For those of us who are committed to higher education, we have noticed that many Alabama students seek out-of-state opportunities after graduation with all the knowledge and experience they got from college here,” said Andrew Dollar, director of the Athens State LaunchBox. . “We are grateful to connect with leaders in business and government who can serve as resources for our students and help us create more opportunities for them.”

The State University of Athens owns and operates the LaunchBox, a new collaborative and innovative hub in downtown Athens and the host of the Roundtable.

Innovate Alabama will host additional roundtables across the state to continue to encourage collaboration among local leaders and learn more about the challenges and opportunities in each region. The next roundtable will take place on Thursday, October 20 at Stillman College in Tuscaloosa