By Hannah Lester
State Representative Jeremy Gray, from Opelika, was named to Gov. Kay Ivey’s Alabama Innovation Commission to Promote Entrepreneurial Growth. ‘
“It’s an honor and privilege to serve on the Alabama Innovation Commission with such distinguished and experienced members,” Gray said. “I truly believe this is one step forward, in the right direction in building a stronger, and more innovative Alabama. The wealth of knowledge on this commission will pay off tremendously in the growth of our state.”
Ivey announced the creation of the commission, Innovate Alabama, on Thursday, as part of Executive Order 720.
“Through the establishment of the Alabama Innovation Commission, I look forward to collaborating with our state’s leading innovators to develop a long-term strategy to create a more resilient, inclusive and robust economy,” Ivey said. “Alabama has always had a rich tradition of developing technologies to move our state forward. Now more than ever, we must capitalize on future opportunities by engaging our state’s trailblazers to discuss new ideas and policies that support entrepreneurship, economic development and jobs.”
The goal of the commission is to promote entrepreneurship in the state; commission members will look into the policy and how to best help startups.
“I hope to bring an unique perspective that will challenge the commission to rethink the way we view entrepreneurship, and innovation in the 21st century,” Gray said. “In the world of technology and social media, anyone can become an entrepreneur. We as a state have to give entrepreneurs the resources they need, to become a sustainable business that truly understands the financial and accounting side of building an effective business.”
Gray will serve as one of the 15 members on the commission.
Opelika Mayor Gary Fuller applauded Gray and the know-how he will bring to Innovate Alabama.
“Right now, our business owners are facing extraordinary times,” he said. “We need forward-thinking ideas and young minds who can move us forward and help us grow. Rep. Gray understands how to start a business from just a vision. He did so with Elevate Your Grind. He, along with this group of leaders selected by Gov. Ivey can help others achieve those same dreams.”
Gray has been a state representative since 2018 for District 83. He also serves on the Commerce and Small Business Committee, Health Committee, Lee County and Public Safety Committee and Homeland Security Committee.
“Through this commission, we hope to tap into the potential for the state to become a hub for startups and technology-based companies,” said Senator Greg Reed, who will serve as vice-chair of the commission. “I look forward to working with the Alabama Innovation Commission to encourage collaboration, public-private partnerships and smart policies that promote access to opportunity and create a pipeline for success in all corners of the state.”
Representative Bill Poole will serve as chair of the commission. Part of the responsibility of the commission will be to form an innovation policy agenda for the Alabama Legislator.
The Alabama Innovation Commission will also include an advisory council of six Alabama innovators. Zeke Smith, Alabama Power Executive Vice President, will serve as president of the advisory council.
“Alabama is home to me, and I am honored to serve on the advisory council for the Alabama Innovation Commission,” said Condoleezza Rice, former secretary of state and director of Stanford University’s Hoover Institution, who will serve on the advisory council. “While our country currently faces many challenges, this is an opportunity to create forward-thinking ideas and policies that will inspire the next generation of innovators. By focusing on knowledge-based skills and education, technology growth and entrepreneurship, we unlock the potential for future success across the state.”
Gray said he will advocate for incubators, hubs and work spaces for the state.
“Many people have the vision and great innovative concepts to revolutionize our state but not the means to see their ideas come to fruition,” he said.