The Mobile Area Chamber of Commerce’s business incubator will soon have a new home, thanks to a federal grant.
U.S. Rep. Bradley Byrne (R-Fairhope) announced on Sept. 27 an award of a $1.5 million Economic Development Administration grant to allow the Innovation PortAL to renovate the former Threaded Fasteners building on St. Louis Street downtown.
“I appreciate the Trump administration and the Economic Development Administration for their support of the Innovation PortAL project,” Byrne said in a statement. “This project will spur innovation in Southwest Alabama, bring new jobs to our area and boost our local economy. I look forward to continuing to work with our local leaders to support the Innovation PortAL project and all economic development efforts in our area.”
Innovation PortAL Director Hayley Van Antwerp said the grant would allow the “innovation and entrepreneurial center” to expand and better serve its clients.
“The new location would allow for the clients we invest in to sit in residence,” she said. “The location would also allow us to offer a suite of educational program resources.”
The center, which currently leases space at the Fuse Factory and has offices inside the chamber building, would be able to offer “very competitive” rent to help drive competition for space in the facility, Van Antwerp said. Roughly three-quarters of the building will be leased out, she said, with the other portion available for common use.
The office has served 62 different ventures in the past year and currently has 23 active clients, Van Antwerp said.
“The building will allow us to serve more and provide an engaging environment,” she said. “The building will allow us to do a better job.”
Van Antwerp is also excited about the 30,000-square-foot building’s location, in the middle of what business folks are calling the “technology corridor.” She thinks the location could help the facility “build a robust pipeline of entrepreneurs” as it will be full of mixed-use opportunities and start-ups.
The chamber expects to break ground on the facility in about four months, Van Antwerp said.