- Huntsville is a well-known hub in the Southeast for small business development and growth, and for start-up creation.
- Multiple styles, scales, and formats of incubation hubs exist throughout the City of Huntsville.
Developing and supporting entrepreneurship is vital to maintaining a culture of innovation and to creating a unique identity for the community. The Huntsville metro has historically been very successful at attracting industry to North Alabama, and the last half decade has seen even more of that success. A sustainable and resilient economy has such industrial growth as a hallmark; equally important, however, is its ability to “grow local talent.”
One tool for developing start-ups is the Business Incubator. This is a facility established to nurture startup firms during their early months or years. A business incubator usually provides affordable space; shared offices and services; hands-on management training; marketing support; and can even assist with finding access to financing.
A business incubator is, at its core, an economic development tool. It helps communities promote business growth, diversify local economies, and encourage would-be entrepreneurs to start their own company. By providing shared services and consulting, incubators can save overhead costs and reduce unnecessary missteps. They can reduce (but not eliminate) the inherent risk of starting a business, and lessen the impact if they’re not successful. They offer, in a sense, the freedom to fail… and in failing, to get up, learn, and try again.
Incubators and innovation hubs are already taking shape across Huntsville. Some are privately-funded – like Huntsville West – while others are publicly-supported – at UAH, for example – but they all create a broader network for supporting start-ups.
The City should look for additional opportunities – like the creation of kitchen incubators, or engaging Huntsville City Schools to expand entrepreneurship programs and mentorships – to create a deep pool of opportunity for local businesses.
Encourage local initiatives like the Catalyst and BizTech, and developments like Huntsville West, which support a small-business and innovation ecosystem.
Allow more flexibility in locating incubation facilities, including in small neighborhood-scale sites.