Governor's Economic Recovery Tour visits Anniston - ABC 33/40 - Birmingham News, Weather, Sports

Governor Bentley's Economic Recovery Tour makes stop in Anniston

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Gov. Robert Bentley in Anniston Tuesday for his statewide Economic Recovery Tour. (abc3340.com) Gov. Robert Bentley in Anniston Tuesday for his statewide Economic Recovery Tour. (abc3340.com)
ANNISTON - AL -

Governor Robert Bentley identified entrepreneurship and innovation as key components in Alabama's ongoing economic development.  He is taking an Economic Recovery Tour around the state to meet with business owners to discuss their needs and success stories, and Tuesday he stopped in Anniston.

"One of the things I learned being a doctor is you can always make a diagnosis if you listen to the patient long enough.  And that's true of government, you have to listen to the people.  They have great ideas and we're taking those ideas and we're going to put them into practice," Bentley said.

His focus Tuesday was on small business incubators, which are office facilities that allow people to test their business ideas.  The governor met with several of the dozen businesses at the Greenbrier Entrepreneurial Center on Commerce Boulevard, which is part of the Northeast Alabama Entrepreneurial System.

"We basically provide [people] an environment in which they can slowly grow their business, and hopefully have their business model refined to the point where it's good enough they can move out of the facility and into the greater community," operations manager Jennifer Williamon said.

Services range from wedding planning to a workshop for tailgate camping trailers, to music classes, to web design, to a training facility for cheerleading and gymnastics.

"The thing that is common to them is they start with ideas and those ideas become a company and they hire people and that's how new companies develop," Bentley said.

The governor emphasized the importance of incubators and innovation depots like this in the Accelerate Alabama plan for economic development.  He said the state must not focus only on recruiting businesses, but also support retaining those already here, and creating more.

"Who knows, 10 years from now, one of these companies may be hiring 4 or 500 people," he said.

Bentley said one of his primary takeaways from his meetings today is that the state needs to improve its organizational structure to help small business development.  He said the statewide tour is helping him identify other needs he can address with other state officials in Montgomery.

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