The overall purpose of Shoals Shift is to accelerate a cultural change that alters how economic development is viewed and practiced in the region, resulting in a strong and growing pipeline of high quality, in-demand jobs and grows the number of businesses as well as creating opportunities for University of North Alabama students, who desire, to stay in the region . Shoals Shift includes innovation and entrepreneurship education, competitions and mentoring that advances interested students towards starting their own venture or joining the employment of local companies. Specifically, students can enter the Shoals Idea Audition – 3-minute pitch contest, the 3 Day Startup weekend, enroll in Innovation Engineering or apply to be a part of the Generator, student incubator and mentoring. Prior to 2014 students did not have a university and community supported program of innovation and entrepreneurship. A unique core team consisting of leaders from the University of North Alabama College of Business, Shoals Entrepreneurial Center and Shoals Chamber of Commerce met in January 2014 and began a journey together that now guides the development of networks that initiate and manage innovation and entrepreneurship projects. Using Strategic Doing, a flexible agile process, the core team has been guiding the project which engaged over 150 students with over 30 students applying and enrolling at the Generator to develop their idea, and led over 10 students to compete in the annual Shoals Idea Audition.
UEDA Awards of Excellence Finalists presented at the Annual Summit in Chattanooga on October 22, 2012. Summit attendees then voted for the best initiative in each category.