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:

Alabama's high school graduation rate saw a boost in the 2014-2015 school year, climbing to 89 percent.

That is up from 72 percent in 2012, according to the Alabama Department of Education.

The Alabama State Board of Education has a set goal of reaching a 90 percent graduation rate by the year 2020 - which is part of Superintendent Tommy Bice's Plan 2020.


8 startups chosen for first round of Alabama Launchpad competition
on January 14, 2016 

Startups from Birmingham, Huntsville and Anniston will pitch their ideas before a panel of judges next month in hopes of winning a share of $250,000 in funding.

Alabama Launchpad, a 10-year-old program of the Economic Development Partnership of Alabama, has selected eight young companies from 17 applicants for its next round of competition. In addition to funding, entrepreneurs receive mentoring to help their businesses grow.

The startups will make their first pitches at 9 a.m. Feb. 19 at Evonik Industries in Birmingham. Select teams will then move on to the Alabama Launchpad Startup Competition Finale in early April.


JSU seeking to grow cybersecurity education on campus and beyond
by Bill Wilson / The Anniston Star
January 13, 2016 

JACKSONVILLE - Inside room 328 at Ayers Hall on Jacksonville State University's campus, there is a black suitcase that is anything but ordinary.

One professor believes it could nurture the minds of young people who one day might be charged with protecting national security.

That professor is Guillermo Francia, who for over a decade in Jacksonville has been researching and teaching cybersecurity - a concept that has grown in the world's consciousness with rising fears that infrastructure controlled by Internet-connected computers, such as power plants, dams and utility grids, may be vulnerable to malicious hackers. Francia's initiative at JSU has led him here, inside the school's Critical Infrastructure Security and Assessment Laboratory, opened in 2010 thanks in large part to a $415,000 grant from the National Science Foundation.


Opelika represents at Vegas Consumer Electronics Show 
Meagan Hurley | Opelika-Auburn News 
January 13, 2016 

Alabama's first Gig City was well represented last week at the annual Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, where three business startups associated with the Round House business incubator presented their ideas and exhibited their wares.

Representing Opelika at the event where technology takes center stage were Tennibot, Frapz and RecMed First Aid.

Round House founder Kyle Sandler said CES served as a networking tool for the businesses, while also affording CEOs from here an opportunity to represent their community and their businesses on a national level.


Fairview Commons Industrial Park receives AdvantageSite designation

 BIRMINGHAM, Ala., - The Fairview Commons Industrial Park in Conecuh County has received the Alabama AdvantageSite designation. 

The AdvantageSite program requires that community economic development organizations provide documentation specific to a proposed industrial site, including a set of standard data related to ownership/ control, environmental and geotechnical conditions, and infrastructure status. Sites must also meet size, zoning and accessibility requirements.

 The 811-acre industrial park is located within the Evergreen city limits and has direct access to Interstate 65 via US 84. All utilities are either at the site or in close proximity. The park is also located in two specialty zones, one being a Historically Underutilized Business Zone (HUBZone), which gives companies "preferential access" to federal contracts, according to the U.S. Small Business Administration website, and the other a renewal community zone.



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