The Rural Business and Training Center (RBTC), Inc. Innovation Center is a nonprofit organization incorporated on July 10, 2020, in Demopolis, AL. Demopolis is the largest city in Marengo County, and it lies at the confluence of the Black Warrior River and Tombigbee River. The RBTC's purpose is to provide tools, techniques, and training using a "boots-on-ground" approach by practitioners, facilitators, and educators to equip entrepreneurs to start businesses and create jobs in Marengo, Greene, Perry, Hale, and surrounding Blackbelt counties.
The RBTC takes a regional approach to creating a concept of operation, identifying board members with enthusiasm and experience, and collaborating with private and public partners to deliver the necessary programs to provide economic growth in our region. The center aims to stimulate job creation, business startups, and community revitalization by providing job accelerator programs, 10-week business startup programs (CO.STARTERS core program) at predetermined locations in partnering counties, and spaces to start and or operate businesses. To recruit and identify individuals ready and willing to invest in themselves, their communities and deploy their entrepreneurial visions, the RBTC will offer a variety of business workshops and seminars.
Annually, the RBTC offers three 10-week, facilitator-led programs designed by CO.STARTERS. CO.STARTERS Core is a 10-week, cohort-based program that equips entrepreneurs of all kinds with the insights, relationships, and tools needed to turn ideas into action. Over ten sessions, participants develop and fine-tune their ideas. Participants leave the program with a deeper understanding of creating a sustainable venture. In advance of the 10-week core program, the RBTC offers a 3-hour workshop to recruit and identify individuals ready and willing to invest in themselves, their communities, and their entrepreneurial visions. Additionally, the RBTC works to create partnerships with local property and business owners who will offer program graduates affordable spaces to start their businesses.
RBTC board members are practitioners with years of experience. Their businesses range from professional services (financial, legal, taxes, accounting, bookkeeping, marketing, consulting, etc.), senior daycare, restaurant, real estate, and a marketplace. Additionally, RBTC board members serve or have served on boards, foundations, and nonprofits throughout the community that foster business, economic, and workforce development, affordable housing, education, commerce, strategic planning, and women-specific events to promote entrepreneurship.
RBTC, INC., a 501(c)(3), is a startup Innovation Center with a co-located business incubator. It is organized, designed, and operated by local entrepreneurs and small business owners to recruit and develop other entrepreneurs to start and successfully run businesses in Marengo, Greene, and surrounding Blackbelt counties. The RBTC-IC strives to strengthen the rural business ecosystem by promoting job creation, business startups, and community revitalization by providing tools, techniques, and training using a boots-on-ground approach.
Dr. Aliquippa Allen, Founder and Executive Director
Dr. Aliquippa Allen is a Demopolis native and spent her formative years in the Bronx, NY. After graduating high school, she joined the United States Air Force (USAF) and returned to Demopolis after 28 years of distinguished military service. Dr. Allen joined the College of Business and Technology faculty at the University of West Alabama (UWA) in 2008.
In 2013, 2015, 2017, she was appointed Chair for Business Administration, Management, and Marketing department, Associate Dean, and Dean of the College respectively, before retiring from the University in 2020.
Dr. Allen holds degrees in Organization and Management, a master's degree in Procurement and Acquisition, a bachelor's degree in Information Systems, and an Associate's degree in Logistics Management.
Active in her community, Dr. Allen served on the executive boards for the Marengo County Economic Development Authority, the Demopolis City School Foundation, the Demopolis Area Habitat for Humanity, and the Alabama Communities of Excellence. She is a graduate of Leadership Marengo, Leadership Sumter, Leadership Alabama, and a National Small Business Association Leadership Council member. Aliquippa is a local business owner, founder/executive director of a nonprofit, and a certified coach, trainer, and speaker.
Dr. Allen's passion is to help rebuild rural communities in the Blackbelt, one small business at a time.
Board of Directors
Ashley Coplin, Chair (Executive Director, Demopolis City Schools Foundation)
Sid Rowser, Vice Chair (Director, Utility Services, Georgia Power Company)
Barbara A. Raymond, Secretary (Co-Owner, Insight Tax Solutions)
Aggie Ward-Scott, Treasurer (Co-Owner, Insight Tax Solutions)
Darius Allen (Materials And Logistics Manager, Mercury Systems)
Dr. Karen Braxton (Assistant Professor, COO, Braxton Senior Care, Entrepreneur)
Michael Cox (Vice President, Strategic Systems and Missile Defense Customer Accounts Business Development, Raytheon Corporation)
Connie Davis (Educator, Demopolis High School)
Myra Harris (Vice Principal, Greensboro Elementary School)
Trameika Hawkins-Lee (Pharmacist, Walmart)
Lawrence Lee (Consultant, U. S. Department of Housing & Urban Development)
Sandra Norman-Eady (Attorney at Law)