TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — The EDGE, a high-tech facility designed to support entrepreneurial collaboration and innovation in west Alabama, will have its grand opening Wednesday, Feb. 6.
Officials from the City of Tuscaloosa and state of Alabama, along with leadership from The University of Alabama and community partners, are expected to attend the celebration, which kicks off with a ribbon cutting at 3 p.m.
Located at 2627 10th Ave. in the center of Tuscaloosa, The EDGE is about 1.5 miles from UA’s campus.
A collaboration between UA, via the Culverhouse College of Business’ Alabama Entrepreneurship Institute, the City of Tuscaloosa and the Chamber of Commerce of West Alabama, The EDGE is both a workspace and a catalyst for business networking that will host regular workshops, forums and informal gatherings.
“This facility represents a part of a concerted effort, long in the making, to smartly cultivate a dynamic entrepreneurial ecosystem in Tuscaloosa,” said Dr. Theresa Welbourne, executive director of the Alabama Entrepreneurship Institute and The EDGE.
“If you have an idea for a business and need help getting it off the ground, or you’re a freelancer looking for a place to work that isn’t a home office, The EDGE will have the resources you need to get things done,” Welbourne said.
The 26,000 square-foot building is located in an enterprise area designated for development after it was devastated by a tornado that struck Tuscaloosa in April 2011. The $11.7 million facility includes 20 offices, 100 workstations and several conference rooms, all offered to entrepreneurs, people seeking to build their businesses and individuals who need working and networking space.
“When the tornado of April 27, 2011, destroyed nearly 13 percent of Tuscaloosa, we pledged to rebuild our city in a way that honors all those who lost so much,” said Walt Maddox, mayor of the City of Tuscaloosa. “The EDGE reflects this unwavering commitment.
“The EDGE not only continues our recovery, but it also provides an opportunity to maximize innovation and entrepreneurship,” Maddox said. “I am proud of our Council for their significant investment, and I am proud of our community partners for their vision and dedication in making it happen.”
Resources available from The Edge include mentoring programs, workshops on business development and marketing, and open collaboration space.
UA graduate Slade Johnston has launched several businesses thanks, he said, to the support he’s received at The EDGE.
“Through networking opportunities at The EDGE, I was able to meet with other entrepreneurs to improve my business pitch and get connections to investors,” Johnston said.
The new facility is a significant upgrade for The EDGE, which was temporarily in a downtown Tuscaloosa space owned by Regions Bank.
“This project is the culmination of seven years of hard work,” said Jim Page, president and CEO of the Chamber of Commerce of West Alabama. “Thanks to the tireless efforts of the Chamber, the City of Tuscaloosa and The University of Alabama, anyone wanting to start or grow a business will not only get the help they need, but they will do so in a world-class environment.”
The University of Alabama connection offers a two-way talent pipeline.
“University students looking to act upon a business concept will gain critical assistance from experts and area business leaders,” said Dr. Kay M. Palan, dean of UA’s Culverhouse College of Business. “Likewise, local companies will find that being involved with The EDGE will allow them to easily tap into the University’s resources and talented student body.”
Besides providing a place to work and meet for the Tuscaloosa entrepreneur and freelancer community and entrepreneurial-minded students, The EDGE also will host special events that further drive area business and job growth including pitch events and hackathons.
EDGE leadership also plans to host casual gatherings that bring together UA faculty, staff and students, area residents and local business leaders.
Memberships are offered on an annual or monthly basis. A daily drop-in program is also available for those with short-term or intermittent needs.
For more information on The EDGE and leasing space, visit its website at the-edge.ua.edu.
Contact Theresa Welbourne, director of The Edge, at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
The University of Alabama, the state’s oldest and largest public institution of higher education, is a student-centered research university that draws the best and brightest to an academic community committed to providing a premier undergraduate and graduate education. UA is dedicated to achieving excellence in scholarship, collaboration and intellectual engagement; providing public outreach and service to the state of Alabama and the nation; and nurturing a campus environment that fosters collegiality, respect and inclusivity.