BBVA USA provided significant funding recently to the University of South Alabama Real Advice Mentoring Program (RAMP), an organization focused on the growth and development of small businesses and entrepreneurship in the area.
The BBVA Foundation disbursed a $10,500 grant to the University of South Alabama Foundation for Research and Commercialization, which will use the funds to support RAMP. The $10,500 brings BBVA USA’s 2019 grant total in the Mobile area to more than $50,000.
“BBVA’s presence in Mobile is a significant piece of the bank’s operation, and we are committed to this area’s prosperity,” BBVA USA Gulf Coast CEO Nate Sommer said.
RAMP is a team-based mentoring system provided at no cost to small businesses and aspiring entrepreneurs in South Alabama. The donations are part of BBVA’s pledge to allocate nearly $15.5 billion in lending, investments and services toward supporting low- and moderate-income individuals and neighborhoods in the U.S. over the next six years.
RAMP is a program implemented nationwide and the initial training at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) was made possible by funding from the Mobile County Commission, Mobile City Council, Mayor Sandy Stimpson’s office and the Mobile Area Chamber of Commerce. USA is the primary organization responsible for administration of the program.
In essence, the program is set up so local mentors from varying business sectors in the surrounding community volunteer their time to assist participants with topics in areas such as access to capital and business credit; how to market, avoid mistakes and scale; and strategic planning.
RAMP leadership includes representatives from USA, the Mobile Chamber, Innovation PortAL, the Small Business Development Center (SBDC) and the University of Mobile.
Dr. Michael Chambers is the executive director of RAMP, and also serves as the associate vice president for research at USA. His background includes serving as a former chairman of the board of the Mobile Chamber, chairman of the board of a Nasdaq-traded firm and founder of several biotech companies locally.
“RAMP would not be possible without the support of the leadership team, our program administrator, Angela Jordan, and our mentors who are willing to give back to the community,” Chambers said.
RAMP currently serves 16 nascent local firms. Businesses that apply must provide information on revenue that ranges from an established minimum to over $1 million annually. RAMP’s focus is to help these companies avoid critical mistakes that would inhibit growth.
More information about the program can be found at southalabama.edu/departments/research/research-innovation/ramp.
Business moves, transactions
Jim Ivey, owner of Mobile-based Infinity Homes Construction, recently picked up the former Haint Blue Brewery property, located at 806 Monroe St. in downtown Mobile, for $600,000. Expectations are to open a new venture called BrewHounds sometime in April after completion of upgrades and buildout.
The business will be set up as a dog park, offering exercise options for canines such as artificial turf and obstacles, among other services. Beer offerings for pet owners will also be available while visiting the space. Anticipated food service plans on premises were unknown as of press time.
The site, located across from the newly opened Ice Box bar at 755 Monroe St., is part of the historic Crystal Ice Factory collection of properties, in an area now known as the Ice House entertainment district.
Cameron Weavil with The Weavil Company worked for the buyer in the transaction. Lewis Golden with Hamilton & Company LLC represented the seller.
Gulf Coast Men’s Clinic recently opened in West Mobile, leasing some 1,600 square feet of medical space at 5920 Grelot Road, Suite E3, near Grelot Dental Group. The new business was founded by local partners Brad Thornton, Christopher McMeans and Eyston Hunte, M.D. Expectations for the practice are to hire up to seven employees at the site when fully staffed.
The clinic offers advanced treatments and new medical techniques for erectile dysfunction (ED) for individuals who haven’t responded to traditional treatments. Treatments are also offered for post-surgery candidates who have undergone prostate removal surgery due to cancer. In total, the group reportedly has over 30 years of experience in the medical field.
Plans are in place to add additional office space in Baldwin County and Pensacola over the next 12 to 24 months, according to Thornton.
“We would like to grow the business regionally, and maybe even nationally, if it takes off the way we hope it does,” Thornton said in a phone interview.
Local owner Kallie Trippe Etheridge reported that Rubik’s ’80s Arcade recently held a soft opening inside their newly leased 3,500-square-foot space located next door to Transmission King at 7201 Airport Blvd., Suite C, in West Mobile.
The family-friendly, retro venue plans to hire a manager and a handful of part-time employees when fully staffed, and will offer classic games such as Pac-Man, Pole Position, Frogger, air hockey, foosball and pool tables.
Pending city approval, concessions will be sold. Dedicated spaces include a 500-square-foot snack room called Rubik’s Diner, a 1,000-square-foot area set aside for birthday parties and a gamer’s lounge. More information about the business can be found on their Facebook page.
The Park Center office complex, located at 744 Museum Drive in Mobile, is now 100 percent occupied according to Heather Huffman with Huffman Real Estate Services. Bob Isakson, president of Mobile-based Lafayette Land Co. Inc., is the owner of the business park. Huffman worked as the broker on all of the lease transactions.
Studio Drew will cover some 1,900 square feet of workshop and event space. Coastal Contours and Wellness will inhabit an office footprint of some 1,065 square feet. Both businesses are expected to open sometime in April.
To date, the complete commercial lineup at Park Place now includes Studio Drew, 1031 Meals, Coastal Contours and Wellness, Classical Ballet and Heisler Heat. The remaining office space is used as offices by Lafayette Land Company, which is headquartered at the site.
Tupelo, Mississippi-based Renasant Bank recently held a grand opening for its first Baldwin County branch located at 508 Fairhope Ave. in Fairhope. The fully staffed loan office employs six and is leasing some 1,500 square feet of retail space downtown.
The Eastern Shore Chamber of Commerce sponsored the ribbon cutting for the new addition to the local area business community.
This page is available to subscribers. Click here to sign in or get access.
It looks like you are opening this page from the Facebook App. This article needs to be opened in the browser.
iOS: Tap the three dots in the top right, then tap on "Open in Safari".
Android: Tap the Settings icon (it looks like three horizontal lines), then tap App Settings, then toggle the "Open links externally" setting to On (it should turn from gray to blue).