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AERN's Annual Meeting held in December

AERN meeting audience members
Attendees at the AERN Annual Meeting included AERN partners, local leaders and special guests.

AERN held its annual meeting of the partners on December 19 at Bryant Conference Center. Ms. Patterson, Director of AERN, welcomed the partners and special guests and discussed the importance of collaborating to achieve a greater result. Dean Kay Palan of the Culverhouse College of Commerce was introduced to the audience, and she shared some of the many accomplishments of the College, such as the Culverhouse School of Accountancy ranked 8th in the nation (2016), Culverhouse ranked 3rd in the nation for online bachelor's in business (2015), the Master's of Marketing ranked 18th (2016) and the Manderson Graduate School of Business ranked 27th among public institutions, 4th in the SEC and 53rd overall. Dean Palan commented that the rankings are indicative of the College's rigorous curriculum, top-notch faculty and real-world opportunities provided to its students.

Mr. Ahmad Ijaz, Director of the Center for Business and Economic Research, discussed the valuable information to be found on the CBER website, as well as the services provided by the CBER team including national, regional, state and county level economic forecasting and analysis, financial and industry analysis and economic impact modeling and estimation. [View the presentation (pdf).] Mr. Neal Wade, Director of the University of Alabama's Economic Development Academy, shared the Academy's "Striving Communities, Thriving State" initiative which focuses on the state's communities by creating community teams to create and implement a realistic growth plan that includes a strategy process to grow the economy. Ben Bickerstaff of the University of Alabama's Office for Technology Transfer presented education on intellectual property and examined the difference between a patent, copyright, trademark, service mark and trade secret. [View the presentation (pdf).]

Palan and Ijaz
L.-r.: Dean Kay Palan, Culverhouse College of Commerce, University of Alabama; Mr. Ahmad Ijaz, Director, Center for Business and Economic Research, Culverhouse College of Commerce.

Ms. Lisa Riley of LiftFund discussed the process of obtaining a business loan from the application process, credit score implications and the need for collateral, and also covered interest rates and SBA loans available to small business owners. Mr. Paul Brothers, Bruno Business Reference Librarian, discussed navigating the AERN website and research resources available through the Angelo Bruno Business Library's website including the Alabama Virtual Library, and he shared how these free resources can help an entrepreneur evaluate a business idea. Mr. Greg Sheek, Director of Launchpad Programs at the Economic Development Partnership of Alabama provided information to AERN partners on pitching a business idea at Alabama Launchpad and shared the benefits to entrepreneurs of perfecting their pitch and receiving feedback from the judges, as well as the opportunity to win cash awards to launch a business idea. Here are the links to some of the presentations provided by the speakers.

AERN partners, local leaders and special guests shared success stories from their respective communities during round table discussions at lunch. Francine Wasden of the Greenville Chamber of Commerce commented, "This was a great meeting to get new ideas to take back to Greenville, as well as much needed information to share with our business owners."

Wade, Bickerstaff, Sheek
L.-r.: Mr. Neal Wade, Director, Economic Development Academy, University of Alabama; Mr. Ben Bickerstaff, Office for Technology Transfer, University of Alabama; Mr. Greg Sheek, Director of Launchpad Programs, Economic Development Partnership of Alabama
Riley, Patterson, Brothers
L.-r.: Ms. Lisa Riley, LiftFund; Ms. Mary Patterson, Director, Alabama Entrepreneutial Research Network; Mr. Paul Brothers, Angelo Bruno Business Library, University of Alabama

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