HudsonAlpha’s Wiregrass Innovation Center Highlights Southeast Alabama’s Biotech Future

HudsonAlpha’s Wiregrass Innovation Center Highlights Southeast Alabama’s Biotech Future Main Photo

29 May 2024


HudsonAlpha, a nonprofit institute based in Huntsville, is expanding to the Wiregrass region. The City of Dothan recently broke ground on the Wiregrass Innovation Center in Dothan and HudsonAlpha Wiregrass will be the anchor tenant. This facility is expected to open next year and will further establish the Wiregrass region as a leader in biotechnology (BioTech) and agriculture technology (AgTech).   

“We are already fostering and supporting AgTech businesses in the region,” says Dean Mitchell, Director of HudsonAlpha Wiregrass. "AgTech can be seen in a wide range of technologies including automation, robotics, sensors, drones, smart irrigation, and data analysis."

HudsonAlpha has generated more than $4.2 billion for Alabama’s economy since it was founded 16 years ago in Huntsville. Its presence will have a direct economic impact and intangible benefits that send ripple effects throughout the Wiregrass region. 

HudsonAlpha Will Cultivate a Biotech Ecosystem

HudsonAlpha supports entrepreneurs who want to develop better AgTech systems and innovations. For example, the WIREGRASS Peanut Project brings genomics research to peanut farming with the goal of creating more drought-resistant crops. HudsonAlpha is also focused on improving the growth and harvesting of other crops that are essential to the Alabama economy, like timber.  

“The investment by HudsonAlpha is exciting because the organization will have an immediate impact on the region while investing in its future,” says Rick Clifton, president and CEO of the Covington County Economic Development Council (CCEDC). “When people across the country – or even the world – hear about the Wiregrass region, they will associate it with biotechnology.”

HudsonAlpha will invest in AgTech developments and entrepreneurs who want to address challenges related to increasing crop yields, reducing reliance on chemicals, adjusting to changing climates, increasing demand for food, and strengthening farming communities.

“Our task in the Wiregrass is to lend our expertise to cultivate an ecosystem where ideas take root, businesses flourish and communities thrive,” says Mitchell. “That ecosystem includes world-class research, educational offerings, and innovative entrepreneurs.”  

HudsonAlpha Invests in the Next Generation of Scientists

Parents in the Wiregrass region should also be excited by the HudsonAlpha expansion plans. This organization is working with local school districts to bring resources and biotech projects to students. It offers various programs and activities throughout the year for kids and teens of all ages. This June, HudsonAlpha is hosting a pair of summer camps for middle and high school students to learn about DNA from both a healthcare and plant perspective.

“When kids are excited about science, they are more likely to pursue STEM-focused careers,” says Clifton. “However, this also bolsters the Wiregrass region. HudsonAlpha can support our school districts, which will cause more parents to choose our schools for their kids. This brings more people to Southeast Alabama.”    

HudsonAlpha also has resources for college students, including a BioTrain Internship program which is open to four students in the region. These internships support students interested in genetic research, business development, and entrepreneurship. 
“If students go elsewhere to college or for additional training, we want them to have a reason to return by having career opportunities here,” says Mitchell. “That starts in the schools.” 

HudsonAlpha’s Presence Impacts the Entire Wiregrass Region

HudsonAlpha sees the potential for BioTech and AgTech investment in the Wiregrass region. While the Innovation Center is part of the Dothan City Center downtown revitalization project, HudsonAlpha is bringing its education opportunities and events to various counties and schools in surrounding areas.  

“The City of Dothan has been the key to all of this, but we are called HudsonAlpha Wiregrass because it is a regional effort of collaboration and opportunity,” says Mitchell.

The WIREGRASS Peanut Project is expanding from seven to 11 schools this fall. HudsonAlpha is hosting HudsonAlpha U events for adults who want to become more genomically literate, and is actively working to recruit AgTech firms to the region. HudsonAlpha will be a valuable economic development partner for decades to come. 

Invest in Covington County and Grow with the Wiregrass Region 

Now is the best time to invest in the Wiregrass region and Covington County in particular. Southeast Alabama is set to become a leader in BioTech and AgTech investment. By establishing your operations in Covington County, you can be a pioneer and a leader in the future of agriculture. We can’t wait to grow with you.

Learn more about doing business in Covington County and the incentives we offer. You can also learn about the workforce available to you and explore available sites in the region.