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ICE Lab Launches Business Button in Downtown Huntsville to Help Startup Enterprises, Nonprofits

HUNTSVILLE, Alabama – A new concept coming to downtown Huntsville in early March will offer aspiring entrepreneurs a variety of resources for new business development and training.

Business Button – the brainchild of visiting assistant professor John Whitman and the Innovation, Commercialization and Entrepreneurship (ICE) Lab at the University of Alabama in Huntsville – will launch March 1 in conjunction with the grand opening of the Clinton Row Project in downtown Huntsville.

Whitman said anyone who has an idea for a startup enterprise or nonprofit will be welcome at the one-stop, face-to-face consultation and concierge spot in the Downtown Self Storage building on Jefferson Street and Clinton Avenue.

“There are a number of excellent resources in town standing ready to help startup entrepreneurs, from the Small Business Development Center at UAH, to the Chamber of Commerce, and BizTech,” Whitman said. “Anyone of any age is invited to come in to Business Button and get free advice on the resources that can help them the most.”

Business Button, a confidential advisory service, plans to operate from noon to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday or by appointment. The official opening ceremony will take place at noon March 1.

Residents who take advantage of Business Button will interact with volunteer Consulting Concierges Dana Cave and Dick Reeves, who are familiar with available resources for startup enterprises.

The ICE Lab, BizTech, Small Business Development Center, Procurement Technical Center, North Alabama African American Chamber of Commerce, Chamber of Commerce of Huntsville/Madison County, Downtown 47 and Huntsville Open Tech Coffee (HOTCoffee) will offer assistance to interested startups. Whitman said the list of participating resources is expected to grow.

Located in the College of Business Administration at UAH, the ICE Lab works to build and strengthen the startup and entrepreneurial ecosystem in Huntsville, Whitman said. Last fall, the ICE Lab launched HOTCoffee, an open group that meets bi-weekly to discuss and share ideas on startups, innovation and entrepreneurship.

Downtown Huntsville, Inc. recently signed a lease for six of the ground-floor storage units at Downtown Self Storage to help spur new business development in downtown Huntsville. Business Button and other startups will transform the 10×10-foot spaces into unique storefronts.

Chad Emerson, chief executive officer of Downtown Huntsville, Inc., said the goal is to help new businesses find a permanent location within a year of locating there.

“It gives local, small business entrepreneurs an opportunity to test whether their retail concept can be successful in an urban, walkable setting like downtown,” he told last month.

For more details about Business Button, the ICE Lab or HOTCoffee, contact Whitman by email at or call 781-708-2764. To learn more about the Clinton Row Project, email Emerson at

February 6, 2014

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