June 30, 2016 Minutes
Submitted by Tommy Fulton, Contributing Editor
Call to Order: The meeting was called to order by President Robby McClure. John Pisarkiewicz gave the invocation, followed by Gordon Korb, who led us in song, accompanied by Les Greer at the piano. Tom Martenstein introduced our guests along with visiting Rotarians.
Announcements: Les Greer made a presentation to Robbie McClure after visiting a Rotary Club celebrating its 104th year in existence. Ernest Ladd, IV reported on the Tarpon Tourney and the associated Captain’s meeting. The Captain’s meeting will take place of the July 28th regular lunch meeting and will be held that evening at Ruth’s Chris. The tournament is July 30th. The passing of the gavel will occur at the regular meeting on July 14th.
Program: Bob Chappelle introduced the speaker, Hayley Van Antwerp, who is the Executive Director of Innovation PortAL.
Innovation PortAL is charged with transforming Southwest Alabama into the innovation and entrepreneurial hub of the Gulf Coast. This effort was inspired by a similar effort in St. Louis. They will be serving start-up firms, as well as growing businesses. Therefore, Ms. Van Antwerp emphasized incubation and acceleration as the keys to success.
The effort will include a coding boot camp, which will aid those interested in the practical use of coding in order to obtain high tech jobs. Also, to help with product development, the speaker described a “souped-up” 3-D printing capability for prototypes. They will host a meet-up group, “Mobile MakerSpace”, which will encourage innovative interaction and partnering with 35 existing programs.
Access to funding sources will be an important asset, as well as collaborative office space. The emphasis will be on local organizations, who will grow from our own community. One example she used was Southern Light, described as “hyper-local.”
Before beginning this effort, studies by a well-respected consultant showed that our market will support such a process. Ms. Van Antwerp shared that they already have commitments for more than $2 million, and have applied for a grant of $2.9 million for the Economic Development Agency. Their future home will be in the Threaded Fastener building on St. Louis Street in downtown Mobile.
Ms. Van Antwerp finished with a Q&A session.
The meeting was adjourned at 1:00 pm.
June 30, 2016 Minutes