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Economic & Business Engagement

BUSINESS OUTREACH CENTERS

The Business Outreach Centers enhance economic growth by providing Alabama small businesses with technical assistance for start-up, access to capital, international trade, and government contracting. The centers include the Alabama Small Business Development Center (ASBDC), Alabama International Trade Center (AITC), and Alabama Procurement Technical Assistance Center (PTAC).

SBDC, AITC, and the PTAC were designated as Business Outreach Centers and became part of the Office for Economic & Business Engagement (OEBE) within the Office for Research & Economic Development (ORED) in October 2019. This alignment strengthened business and community engagement and outreach efforts of UA by enhancing collaboration between all economic development units across campus. An Associate Vice President for OEBE was hired in January 2020, reporting to the Vice President for Research & Economic Development. ORED also includes the Office for Sponsored Programs and the Office for Contract & Grant Accounting, which provide administrative support to the SBDC.

The Alabama SBDC was established in 1980 and was initially hosted by the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB). The University of Alabama, located in Tuscaloosa, became the host institution in April 2009. Both entities are part of the University of Alabama System, which is governed by a Board of Trustees and Chancellor, with campus locations in Huntsville, Birmingham, and Tuscaloosa. With the move from Birmingham to Tuscaloosa, the organization changed its name to the Alabama SBDC Network, and eventually adapted the America’s SBDC logo, to align more closely with the nationwide SBDC organization and structure. The University of Alabama serves as the fiscal agent and institution of record for the SBDC program in Alabama for the Cooperative Agreement with the U.S. Small Business Administration

Dr. Russell J. Mumper was hired as the Vice President for Research & Economic Development in January 2019 and created a five-year strategic plan for research and economic development. Strategic Theme #5 of this plan created the Office for Economic and Business Engagement. A core mission of the OEBE is to facilitate and promote economic development in Alabama by encouraging and fostering entrepreneurship. Additionally, Strategic Theme # 5 created the Economic Development Council (EDC). The EDC created the Five-Year Economic Development Priorities and Strategic Goals as a guiding document.

Since the 1970’s, the Tuscaloosa campus has been involved in a significant number of activities in economic development, international trade, outreach, and entrepreneurship/innovation, many of which are supported in part by federal and state contracts. (Previous initiatives included the support for the recruitment of Mercedes-Benz U.S. International and Hyundai automotive manufacturing operations in Alabama.) The UA administrative contract and grant infrastructure along with its economic development experience serve to provide a stable home for the operation of the Business Outreach Centers.

ALABAMA SMALL BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT CENTER

BILL CUMMINS | DIRECTOR

The mission of the Alabama SBDC Network is to strengthen Alabama’s economy by providing high-quality technical assistance and education to small businesses. The SBDC specializes in one-on-one, confidential advising and training for business start-up, growth, and access to capital.  It operates in all 67 counties of the state and has ten field office locations. The Alabama SBDC is nationally accredited by America’s SBDC trade association and is a partnership program with the U.S. Small Business Administration, the State of Alabama, and higher education institutions in the state.

ALABAMA INTERNATIONAL TRADE CENTER

BRIAN DAVIS | DIRECTOR

The mission of the Alabama International Trade Center (AITC) is to increase the level of international trade activity in Alabama, fostering development and expansion of the state’s economy. The Center provides export research, training, and finance services to small businesses on a statewide basis. Trade Center professional staff, university students, and industry consultants work one-on-one with small businesses to expand export opportunities for Alabama-made products and services. The Center, founded in 1979 by Dr. William R. Bennett, provides practical training on international trade to UA students, which enhances their career placement opportunities.

ALABAMA PROCUREMENT TECHNICAL ASSISTANCE CENTER

JERRY ELLISON | DIRECTOR

The mission of the Alabama Procurement Technical Assistance Center (PTAC) is to provide technical assistance to help small businesses pursue and secure government contracting opportunities. Certified procurement specialists advise clients on registration, qualifications, identification of opportunities, preparation of bid proposals, and provide introductions to government purchasing officials. It operates in all 67 counties and has eight field office locations. The Alabama PTAC program is supported in part through a cooperative agreement with the Defense Logistics Agency.