When most people think of booming places for startups, they probably don’t think about Alabama. But there are some good reasons to plant roots in the deep South if you’re looking to grow a new business.
Did you know that Birmingham is home to Velocity Accelerator, a Y-Combinator-like startup incubator? That the city’s Innovation Depot is built specifically for tech startups? Or that Alabama has the second-lowest property taxes in the country?
Alabama certainly has a supply of educated, motivated people. Both the military and NASA have a strong presence in the state—and you can bet they have a strong positive influence on the other companies around them.
Infrastructure for startups is also solid: while Alabama doesn’t have the fastest internet in the South, there are a few providers that offer download speeds of 70 MBps or faster. And to top it off, Alabama is the 10th most affordable state in the country by cost-of-living.
Then it’s time to look at some of the cities you might be considering for your startup. Here are the best cities for startups in Alabama.
Home to Velocity Accelerator, the Innovation Depot, and a number of cool tech startups, Birmingham is the hub of technological advance in Alabama. And because it has that reputation, it’s attracting funding.Home to a number of cool tech startups, Birmingham is the hub of technological advance in Alabama. Click To Tweet
Shipt, a Birmingham grocery delivery service, pulled in $20 million in Series A funding last year. Daxko, a software developer, was recently acquired by GI Partners, a Bay Area investment company. Many other startups are reporting hundreds of thousands of dollars in investment.
And that’s putting Birmingham on the map. It’s not a national-level tech hub yet, but it’s on the way.
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Known as one of the most tech-friendly cities in the South, Huntsville was listed as one of the Most Promising Tech Hubs in 2014 by Techie.com. It’s been flying under the radar since then, but it’s regularly highlighted by analysts as having a rapidly growing business scene.Huntsville was listed as one of the Most Promising Tech Hubs in 2014 by Techie.com. Click To Tweet
The fact that NASA and the Department of Defense have big presences in Huntsville certainly helps. That’s a huge pool of talent that startups can take advantage of. And those organizations have had a positive influence on the University of Alabama campus in town, as well.
Like Birmingham, both governmental policies and private startup accelerators will help new businesses thrive. There’s a strong startup culture that fosters meetups, coffee groups, and other networking opportunities.
That culture combined with an educated, tech-focused workplace makes Huntsville not just one of the best places for startups in Alabama, but in the entire region.
The close proximity to Birmingham makes Tuscaloosa another solid option for the central part of the state. One of the biggest draws for this city is the Startup Weekend Tuscaloosa. This is an annual weekend-long event that sees students and members of the business community coming together to brainstorm, plan, and make connections.
It’s the perfect place for entrepreneurs to recruit talent for their startups. Even beyond that, it’s a good way to find new opportunities for investment and innovation.Tuscaloosa is the perfect place for entrepreneurs to recruit talent for their startups. Click To Tweet
Tuscaloosa’s Chamber of Commerce also runs The Edge, a program aimed at helping entrepreneurs successfully run their companies. With skill-building programs, virtual and co-working spaces, counseling, and mentoring, it seeks to help startups in the area succeed.
Possibly the best reason to start a business in Montgomery is that the city really wants to become a tech hub. They’re not quite there yet—but they’re working hard. The city’s Chamber of Commerce has a startup incubation program. The Chamber also provides courses for entrepreneurs to help them develop the knowledge and skills required for running a successful business. They even hold business planning seminars to help you get a foundation in place.
In 2015, the city and a private company received an award to highlight their great cooperation. That cooperation between public and private sectors is great for companies.The best reason to start a business in Montgomery is that the city really wants to become a tech hub. Click To Tweet
You aren’t likely to see Montgomery on many “best-of” lists. But they’re working to change that. And if you get in early, you’re sure to see benefits in the future.
Still Under the Radar
Alabama cities have established a strong reputation for being business-friendly. Low taxes, low cost of labor, startup-friendly cultures, and the presence of a strong workforce make them great places for startups. But the idea just hasn’t caught on in the rest of the country.
Which means it’s still an affordable, startup-friendly place to found a business. Whether you decide to go for one of the tech hubs like Birmingham or Huntsville, or to put down roots in a developing city like Montgomery or Tuscaloosa, you’re sure to benefit from the state’s increasing focus on entrepreneurial activities.
Are you an entrepreneur in Alabama? Which cities do you recommend for startup founders?