January 14, 2013

State of Alabama
Press Release: Alabama Department of Commerce

Huntsville Wins $1.9 Million Grant As One of 7 National 'Innovation Clusters'

January 10, 2013

Aerial view taken in June 2008 of Cummings Research Park looking SE. In bottom left is Hudson-Alpha Center behind it is a portion of Adtran. The tall building in center is The Westin Huntsville (hote) in the Bridge Street shopping complex. In background is US Space & Rocket Center with its Saturn 1B and Saturn V (taller of two rockets). (Huntsville Times file photo) Michael Mercier

HUNTSVILLE, Alabama -- A Huntsville organization created to help small businesses get regional and national technology contracts has won a federal grant totaling nearly $2 million to continue and expand its work as one of seven Regional Innovation Clusters across the United States. The other winners included San Diego, Cleveland, Minneapolis, Hartford, Bay St. Louis and Chicago.

The non-profit Von Braun Center for Science & Innovation is the lead organization of what is called the regional Advanced Defense Technology Cluster. The Von Braun Center will receive the grant funds from the federal Small Business Administration in increments of $385,000 a year for the next five years.

The local effort won a similar award two years ago and used the funds to establish the Chamber Technology Committee at the Chamber of Commerce of Huntsville/Madison County and to support Mayor Tommy Battle's regional initiatives called Cyber Huntsville, Energy Huntsville and GEO Huntsville.

Cluster goals include diversifying the local economy, accessing new and emerging markets and creating new jobs and firms. Organizers say they helped participating firms secure $722 million in new contracts that created or retained 11,166 jobs during the effort's first two years.

The local team has been led for the past two years by NASA engineers Markeeva Morgan and Jose Matienzo of the Marshall Space Flight Center. They will continue to work with a steering committee of technology and business leaders.

In a press release Thursday, the Chamber of Commerce said the SBA was clear when asked why Huntsville is successful. The city has a team that provides small businesses with a complete set of activities and services, introduces small businesses to prime contractors and new markets, fosters regional and national cooperation and has strong support from the regional political and business leadership.

"The cluster initiative not only highlights the underlying advanced aerospace capabilities of the region," chamber Chairman Jim Bolte said, "it also highlights our energy and simulation assets, our advanced manufacturing capabilities, regional small spacecraft and launch platform emerging technologies, and our emerging commercial markets from autos to aircraft to renewable energy systems."

For more information or to get involved in the cluster, contact José Matienzo, Lucia Cape or Christi Jackson.

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