UNA Pressroom

Una Contribution Highlighted In New Federal Report

Oct. 09, 2018

Michelle Eubanks, UNA, at media@una.edu, 256.765.4392 or 256.606.2033

THE SHOALS, Alabama- In a recently released case study focusing on entrepreneurial ecosystems in Appalachia, the Shoals Shift movement was recognized as one of the leading projects in the Appalachian region. The collaborative entrepreneurial project was developed in 2014 as a joint effort between the University of North Alabama, The Shoals Business Incubator, The Shoals Chamber of Commerce, and the Florence Lauderdale Public Library. The case study, prepared by the Center for Rural Entrepreneurship, focused on 8 projects and the ways they are examining and acting toward capitalizing on entrepreneurship as a form of economic development. "The Shoals Shift movement has developed into an important retention mechanism for our graduates," states UNA's Vice President for Academic Affairs and Provost Ross Alexander. "The project's focus to create and nurture a thriving tech economy now offers them exciting and expanded opportunities to stay in the area and work in their fields of study." Shoals Shift was jump started by an approximately $1 million POWER(Partnerships for Opportunity and Workforce and Economic Revitalization)grant from the Appalachian Regional Commission.The grant funds are being used to offer a wide range of entrepreneurial programming, including student-focused start-up contests such as Shoals Idea Audition, Shoals Spark, Shoals Alabama Launchpad, and Smart Start Weekend. Each of these contests allow participants to imagine, create, and promote an idea for a good or service that they feel will fill a void in the market. Those ideas are then presented to a panel of experts for advice and the chance to win seed money to start their businesses. "Our students with an interest in entrepreneurship have greatly benefitted by participating in the many start-up contests sponsored by Shoals Shift," says Mitch Hamm, director of UNA's Generator program through UNA's Institute for Innovation and Entrepreneurship. "These contests give students hands-on experience in not only the development of a new good or service, but the importance of being able to promote their work to a group of judges who may or may not be looking for just such an idea." The full case study can be found on the Entrepreneurial Ecosystems in Alabama website atarceco.creconline.org. More information about Shoals Shift can be found atwww.shoalsshift.com. -30-