Shoals Shift- The Best Kept Secret for Entrepreneurs in The Shoals
Updated: Jun 15, 2021
A local movement known as Shoals Shift has been making a significant impact in the creative and tech ecosystem in The Shoals through its efforts to diversify the local workforce by hosting a series of annual competitions that provide financial backing to entrepreneurs of all ages.
Shoals Shift began in 2014 when a group of local organizations shared the dream of shifting The Shoals from an area solely known for its manufacturing to an ideal location for entrepreneurship and innovation. All too often, graduates from the University of North Alabama believe they have to move to larger cities to find employment after college, but this group of like-minded professionals intends to prove there is great opportunity here for young professionals and entrepreneurs.
Beginning as a collaborative between the University of North Alabama, the Shoals Chamber of Commerce, the Shoals Business Incubator, (known at the time as the Shoals Entrepreneurial Center), and the Florence-Lauderdale Public Library, Shoals Shift continues to evolve its core team to include more strategic voices and assets at the table. After receiving a grant from the Appalachian Regional Commission worth upwards of $1 million, Shoals Shift was able to get off the ground and launch the network into the local powerhouse for entrepreneurship that it is today.
Shoals Shift, though an evolving ecosystem, is now made possible by sponsorship from the Shoals Economic Development Authority, Bank Independent, and the University of North Alabama College of Business. The original intent to attract, nurture, and promote the Shoals’ tech economy has now created a pipeline of innovation and entrepreneurship along the way.
Along the pipeline became a series of competitive events for entrepreneurs of all ages. The original event Shoals Shift hosted was Shoals Idea Audition- an opportunity for entrepreneurs to pitch their idea for technology, a product, or service to a panel of judges for the chance of winning funding to expand their ideas.
Since then, Smart Start, LiftOff Shoals, and Shoals Spark competitions have been incorporated into the mix. Recently, the final competition for LiftOff Shoals 2021 named a recipient of $20,000 to assist the business in job creation and growth opportunities.
Shoals Shift continues to make a significant impact in the Shoals economy, but there is more possibility and opportunity ahead. As many organizations and corporations realized throughout 2020, now is the time to re-evaluate and re-focus efforts. For Shoals Shift, this means the opportunity to create a concise brand and broaden its network to reach more possible participants.
It’s important to note that Shoals Shift is not an organization or entity in itself, rather than a network of local organizations and professionals that have joined forces. Because of this, messaging and standards continue to evolve. Since there are no “employees” of Shoals Shift, and there is no formal link between the groups behind it, spreading the word of the network has been difficult, but the energy behind the vision has never waned. .
Shoals Shift is an incredible way for entrepreneurs in the area to get plugged in and establish connections in the area. Beyond that, the purpose of the initiative is to advance the business ecosystems in The Shoals, which is integral to the success of The Shoals as a whole.
We are excited for the future of Shoals Shift and we hope to continue to support its meaningful work and encourage more opportunities for everyone.