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Here is today's summary of economic development news, a free service of the Economic Development Partnership of Alabama, representing Alabama's private sector investment in economic development.  If you enjoy NewsFlash, thank an EDPA Partner


In this issue:
Samford University to launch student business incubator
Outdoor furniture maker Summer Classics looks to move growing operations to Pelham
SBA offers webinars on disaster preparedness
Gadsden State students in top 20 at SkillsUSA
Nineteen Huntsville-based companies, one Madison firm named to 2012 Inc 500/5000


Samford University to launch student business incubator
Updated: Saturday, August 25, 2012, 8:48 AM

By Martin Swant --- The Birmingham News 


BIRMINGHAM, Alabama -- Samford University's Brock School of Business is launching a business incubator this fall with the hopes of helping students and alumni develop their ideas into real companies. 

On Monday, several students will meet with Samford entrepreneurship guru Franz Lohrke for their first day in the incubator, which aims to help new businesses by providing services such a collaborative work space, meeting rooms and professional guidance. New businesses often have difficulties with cash flow -- paying for expenses like rent, legal counsel and accountants even before having revenue -- causing some to fail early on.


"Entrepreneurship is critical to our economy's health, so training tomorrow's entrepreneurs is an important part of the Brock School of Business' strategic plan," Brock School of Business Dean Howard Finch said. "Establishing this incubator is the next important piece of our efforts to build a world-class entrepreneurship program."


Lohrke, Brock family endowed chair of entrepreneurship, will oversee the incubator. The facility isn't meant to be like downtown's Innovation Depot, which houses scores of tenant companies, he said. The four to six businesses in the Samford incubator at any given time will be in the earliest stages and most are not yet incorporated or still in the idea stage.


The school's incubator is modeled after a number of other successful university incubators. Students aren't required to spend any set number of hours. The co-curricular activity is more of an office space than a class. Students will have free access to an office, conference room and frequent access to faculty and their expertise.




[The Birmingham News


Outdoor furniture maker Summer Classics looks to move growing operations to Pelham 

Published: Sunday, August 26, 2012, 8:00 AM

By Dawn Kent -- The Birmingham News 


MONTEVALLO, Alabama -- Outdoor furniture maker Summer Classics continues to grow its business, with 360 dealers nationwide, a new deal for online sales, a line of indoor furnishings and a growing contract division supplying hotels, restaurants and assisted-living facilities.


The Shelby County-based firm also designs and manufactures furniture for retailers such as Restoration Hardware and Neiman Marcus and it's eyeing additional branding opportunities in Europe and Asia.


Here at home, Summer Classics is looking to grow, too. The company wants to consolidate its Montevallo operations -- a warehouse, cushion-making plant and distribution center -- at the site of the old, vacant Moore-Handley building in Pelham.


Being together on one site, and near the company's 46,000-square-foot showroom and outlet off Shelby County 52 in Pelham, would improve communication and cut down on travel between the facilities, said Bew White, president and chief executive of Summer Classics.


The company employs a little more than 200 people in the U.S., including about 160 locally.

"If we were all together, it would be a lot better company," he said.




[The Birmingham News




SBA offers webinars on disaster preparedness

By: Special to the News | Opelika-Auburn News

Published: August 26, 2012


WASHINGTON -- This summer, millions of businesses across the country were forced to close their doors in the aftermath of power outages, approaching wildfires and flooding caused by tropical storms. Business interruptions, even if they last just a few hours, cost business owners greatly in terms of lost productivity and profits.


The U.S. Small Business Administration and Agility Recovery are offering a series of free webinars to help business owners with preparedness planning. The September series is presented in collaboration with FEMA's Ready Campaign, as part of National Preparedness Month.


SBA wants to help business owners take charge of the well-being of their own companies, the safety of their employees and the sustenance of their local economies by being prepared to rebound quickly from any kind of disaster.


Here's a list of the webinars, held each Wednesday in September at 2 p.m. EDT:



[Opelika-Auburn News





Gadsden State students in top 20 at SkillsUSA

Times Staff Reports

Published: Saturday, August 25, 2012 at 5:43 p.m.


Students from five technical programs taught at Gadsden State Community College finished in the top 20 in the nation during the recent SkillsUSA National Leadership Conference and Competition in Kansas City, Mo.


The SkillsUSA Championship is a showcase for the best career and technical students in the nation.


"The philosophy of the championship is to reward students for excellence, to involve industry in directly evaluating student performance and to keep training relevant to employers' needs," according to the SkillsUSA website.


Students progress through local competitions to state contests, then to the national level, where they compete at a multimillion-dollar event occupying a space equal to 16 football fields in which thousands of competitors test their skills.


A team from the automotive manufacturing technology department earned a bronze medal, finishing third in the nation. Gadsden State's Team K consisted of students Wade McDaniel and Tina Wallace of Hokes Bluff and Allen Talley of Southside. They were led by instructors David Smith and James Wilson.



[Gadsden Times


Nineteen Huntsville-based companies, one Madison firm named to 2012 Inc. 500/5000
Published: Sunday, August 26, 2012, 6:45 AM

By Marian Accardi, The Huntsville Times 


HUNTSVILLE, Alabama -- Nineteen Huntsville-based companies and a Madison business made the 2012 Inc. 500/5000 list of the fastest-growing private, U.S.-based companies.

And two of those companies - No. 74 Connected Logistics and No. 88 Pinnacle Solutions - are the only Alabama firms on the Inc. 500 list.


Michael Durant, the president and CEO of Pinnacle Solutions, gave credit to the company's employees for the recognition.


"The phenomenal growth we've seen in our first four years in business is directly attributable to the quality of the people we have throughout the organization and the great work they do each and every day," he said.


Forty-three Alabama businesses were on the 5000 list.


To make the cut, Inc. 500 companies had to have achieved a minimum of 770 percent in sales growth. The Inc. 500's aggregate revenue is $15.7 billion, with a median three-year growth of 1,431 percent.


The companies on this year's list have more than 48,000 employees and have generated more than 40,000 jobs in the past three years.




[The Huntsville Times


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