In July 2020, Alabama governor Kay Ivey established the Alabama Innovation Commission (AIC), aimed at building the state’s competitiveness in the technology sector, inspiring entrepreneurship, and educating a 21st century work force. The AIC serves as a platform for innovators to engage policymakers, exchange ideas, and identify policies that promote innovation in the state.
Governor Ivey asked Hoover Institution director Condoleezza Rice, a member of the AIC Advisory Council, for the Hoover Institution to lend its expertise on state and local politics to the initiative. Hoover's involvement in the project consists of two components, led by senior fellows Stephen Haber and Joshua Rauh. Haber led a team of Hoover fellows in conducting data-driven research to assess Alabama's educational, legal, financial, governance, and physical infrastructure—all of which are necessary components to transform the state into an innovation hub. Rauh led Hoover's first Policy Lab, a collaboration between the Hoover Institution, the Stanford Graduate School of Business, the Stanford Law School, and several of Alabama’s leading universities. The Policy Lab constitutes a new model for engaging students in public policy research: teams of Stanford MBA students and undergraduates from Alabama's universities built substantive knowledge and created data sets necessary for the Hoover fellows to write their report to the AIC.
The research areas featured in the Hoover Institution report to the AIC include:
- The Role of Alabama Universities in Fostering Innovation and Growth
- Alabama’s Outdoor Recreation Infrastructure
- Supporting Advanced Manufacturing in Alabama
- Tax Policy, Subsidies, and Innovative Business Investment in Alabama: Past and Prospect
- Establishing the Foundation for Economic Growth: The Alabama Education Laboratory
- Alabama Broadband for Education
The focus on state and local issues represents a pivot from Hoover's traditional focus on policy making at the federal level. As such, it presents a unique opportunity. One-size-fits-all solutions tend not to work in a nation as diverse as the United States. Hoover’s engagement at the state and local level has increased its potential to impact policy making in a meaningful way, thereby improving the lives of Americans.