Cullman, AL is a Hot Spot for Cool Ideas

New businesses find rich resources for funding and services.

By
Bill Lewis
On Friday, November 22, 2019 - 14:21
Cullman, AL Startups

Learn how Cullman is growing its economy by offering business incubator services usually found only in larger cities. 

Heavyweight Resources

The Cullman area’s economy punches far above its weight thanks to the successful efforts of the Business Resource Center (BRC) and Technology Village Cullman (TVC) to link startups and existing companies with the advice, services and funding sources that can help them grow.

The presence of organizations providing incubator services encourages business investment and job creation, says Wesley Smith, director of entrepreneurship and education for the Cullman Area Chamber of Commerce. The BRC offers its services from offices at the chamber.

The BRC in partnership with the Small Business Development Center has linked businesses with loans valued in the millions, and created and retained hundreds of jobs in the Cullman area.

Membership in the chamber is not required, and the BRC does not charge for its services. Services include pre-counseling, business plan creation, professional business counseling, borrowing and lending assistance, location services and more.

Cullman, AL Technology Village
Art Meripol

Incubator Services

TVC also offers incubator services. It is a partnership of the City of Cullman, the Cullman Area Chamber of Commerce and Wallace State Community College. The University of Alabama provides support.

“TVC is designed to help tech-based businesses start up and stay in Cullman. People think of tech as being software. Actually, tech is anything that improves your life. We have manufacturers in town that use a lot of tech,” says Jason Nunnelley, TVC’s executive director.

One client created a community driven app and content streaming platform that connects users with the highest quality outdoor videos.

“Anything that’s interesting or new, we’re going to work with those companies,” Nunnelley says.

Networking Opportunities

Nunnelley’s ambition is for TVC to be a full-service incubator that guides startups through the early stages of development. Sometimes that can be as simple as providing space for a new business to have a meeting.

The organization’s offices at 105 Clark St. N.E. have “a neat, urban feel,” Nunnelley says.

TVC also offers training and networking opportunities at monthly Startup Beer and Startup Coffee gatherings, where investors and entrepreneurs share stories of success and failure.

“The goal of TVC is to develop that culture and that ecosystem,” says Nunnelley.

Being able to tap into the services of the BRC is paying off for 412 Public House, an upscale steak and seafood restaurant in Cullman. The restaurant opened in April 2018. It has around 26 full- and part-time employees, says co-owner Stephen Gannon.

“The chamber was the conduit in getting us connected with small-business lenders,” he says.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Bill Lewis is an award-winning business journalist whose work has appeared in publications across the United States.