FLORENCE -- The University of North Alabama was awarded a top award from the University Economic Development Association for its work with the Shoals Shift, a strategic collaboration to create a digital technology economy in the Shoals.
UNA won the Innovation + Talent Award of Excellence at the association's annual conference. It was the first time UNA had applied for the award.
"It is validation from our peers to be recognized for the work we are doing to build a digital cluster in the Shoals," said Janyce Fadden, UNA executive in residence.
The university's work with Shoals Shift has been centered in the College of Business.
"It is incumbent on the university to make sure the region is vibrant," Fadden said. "Digital technology is the future, and growing that sector is very critical in our view for the future of the Shoals region. Shoals Shift was born out of us wanting to help students who want to stay here."
UNA was selected from four finalists -- Indiana University, Indiana University-Purdue University, Indianapolis, and Santa Fe Community College.
In its application, UNA highlighted four initiatives that have been implemented as part of the Shoals Shift. Those were the innovation engineering academic program, the Idea Audition, Three-Day Start-up weekend, and The Generator, a student business incubator.
The Shoals Shift was born out of a Strategic Doing workshop two years ago. Strategic Doing is a development strategy that focuses on shared goals that create quick, measurable results.
Doug Barrett, chairman of the UNA Economics and Finance Department, said in a statement the award highlights the collaborative nature of the Shoals Shift.
"In just two years, UNA and our partners -- Shoals Entrepreneurial Center, Shoals Chamber of Commerce and the (Florence-Lauderdale) Public Library -- have implemented over 20 initiatives targeting making the Shoals a digital technology cluster," he said. "When people engaged in economic development see and hear this, they are simply amazed."
The Shoals Shift received nearly $1 million in a grant from the Appalachian Regional Commission for a three-year plan to bolster growth in the digital economy in the region. An unveiling of initiatives to be supported through that grant will be held at 4:30 p.m.,Thursday at the Davis Center for Innovation in the Florence-Lauderdale Industrial Park.
Welcome to the discussion.
Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
PLEASE TURN OFF YOUR CAPS LOCK.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.