Economic development in southwest Alabama got a boost as almost $5 million in Economic Development Administration (EDA) grants were parceled out to two projects.
Matt Erskine, deputy assistant secretary of Commerce for Economic Development and chief operating officer of the EDA, announced Sept. 2 that $2.9 million will go to a business and technology incubator in Mobile and $1.9 million will go to build an access road to a new aerospace manufacturing facility in Atmore.
“I challenge you to make these EDA-funded projects such a success that in the months and years ahead that we can point to them as shining examples, shining models for communities not only across the country but across the world, the kind of examples they can look to to say, here’s how we grow manufacturing,” Erskine said in a news conference at the Mobile Area Chamber of Commerce.
The $2.9 million grant will go to the Mobile Area Chamber of Commerce Foundation to renovate the former Threaded Fastener Building on St. Louis Street in downtown Mobile. It will house Innovation PortAL. The incubator will support economic diversification and provide mentoring services, investment capital and investing networks to support budding entrepreneurs.
A $1.9 million match for the project will come from local private foundations, private industry, the city of Mobile, Mobile County and the University of South Alabama. Mobile Mayor Sandy Stimpson said the EDA grants give Mobile a reason to celebrate.
“There’s a lot of momentum in our community right now and in this region,” Stimpson said. “You have just given us a springboard to make sure that we keep that momentum going. It gives us an opportunity to reach out to our young entrepreneurs.”
The industrial access road will serve the new aerospace facility built in the Rivercane Industrial Park in Atmore by Huntsville-based Brown Precision Inc. The city of Atmore will match the $1.9 million EDA grant with $580,000. The facility is expected to create 116 jobs and $114 million in private investment.
“It will help our community to develop into what it’s going to be,” said Atmore Mayor Jim Staff. “We’ve got so much coming.”