S3E18: Mike Chambers with University of South Alabama

Transcript:


This week we are joined by Michael Chambers. He is the Assistant Vice President of Research Innovation at the The University of South Alabama. Michael serves as an Adjunct Professor of Oncologic Sciences at the USA Mitchell Cancer Institute where some amazing new treatments and cancer detection procedures are being developed. Some of their research is aimed at helping countless woman around the world by detecting cancers earlier than previously thought possible. Instead of re-hashing the entire conversation, let's jump right into our interview with Michael Chambers.


Micheal: Hi, my name's Michael Chambers. I'm with the University of South Alabama.

Marcus: Welcome to the podcast, Michael.

Micheal: Thank you for inviting me.

Marcus: Yeah, no. I know we were chatting a little bit before this, but you and I kind of, have been running in some of the same circles between 1702 and the Chamber of Commerce and some of the other organizations that you're involved in. And I just think it's nice to be able to sit down with people and learn a little bit more about the person that is behind some of the things that you have going on. Well, to get started, why don't you tell us a little bit about who you are, where you grew up. You know, did you grow up here in Mobile? Did you go to school here? That kind of thing.

Micheal: So, I'm from Anniston, Alabama, which is on I-20 between Birmingham and Atlanta. Grew up there. Went to Anniston High School, which is a public school. Then went to the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa. Spent three years there in undergraduate, then did a year of master's work in English of all things. Then went to law school and got lucky and won a couple scholarships and spent a year in France, and then two years in Switzerland, where I worked on a Ph.D.

Marcus: Wow, very cool. So, what drove the law school decision? I'm an English major, so I know that's a natural move for-

Micheal: I think the critical, I always wanted to be a doctor, which kind of manifested itself later in life. But, I had a really bad biology professor. I did everything I could do to stay awake in that class, but I couldn't. And then I just kinda started wafting over towards law. Life is funny. I've always really been enamored with medicine and life sciences.

Marcus: Interesting. And it's funny how you have married, and we'll get into this here in a little bit, but you've kind of married those two.

Micheal: I have. And not to discredit my law degree because the law degree is probably one of the greatest things that happened to me, because in business, in the typical situation, someone doesn't have a law degree and they pass it off to a set of lawyers and then six months later, hopefully, there's a deal. Because of my law degree, it just gives me the ability to see what matters and what doesn't really matter and then really go from point A to point B a lot faster.

Marcus: Reading through, I would imagine all the legal documents that you've had to read through, I'm sure it saves quite a bit of time as well.

Micheal: And money.

Marcus: Yeah, and money. You'd mentioned you went to high school here, did you say which one?

Micheal: I did, Anniston High School.

Marcus: Anniston, that's right. And would you characterize yourself as, in high school and in college, would you have said you were an excellent student? Or was education something that you were fond of or were you, like myself, I wasn't. But I'm very much an ADD, like focusing on multiple things, this suits me. This environment of an advertising agency suits me.

Micheal: I was a good student and a hard worker.

Marcus: Very good. Very focused. So you have a number of different avenues of business. So you've taken businesses, developed them and launched them, sold them. Why don't you give us some of the background there on some of the biotech stuff that you've worked with.

Micheal: Well, the first thing I ever did was I had a refrigeration rental company in college. Then I had a limited edition art print company in law school. Of course that was a long time ago. Then, practiced law for many years and then really got the itch to do business. So, my brother-in-law who's a retinal surgeon, an Ophthalmologist, had some technology at John's Hopkins that he couldn't interest anyone in, and so he and I, over a kitchen table, decided to launch this business. And we started off with a drug, which was targeting back of the eye diseases like age-related macular degeneration. And I don't know how much in the weeds you wanna get, but if you're-

Marcus: Bring it.

Micheal: 65 years old, one in seven people will have AMD. If you're 75 it's three out of seven. And if you're 85 it's usually five out of seven. So it really grows exponentially as you get older. And it's basically abnormal cell growth in the macula. So we had a drug that was targeting that. And we went through a portion of the FDA process, and then the market changed. And the market changed and said, it's really a lousy idea to give somebody a pill to try to deliver a therapeutic dose of a drug to a piece of tissue, which is essentially like a 50 cent piece on a football field.

Marcus: Oh wow.

Micheal: So, you don't wanna water the whole football field just to put a drop or two on that 50 cent piece. So, the whole market changed and site specific drug delivery became the order of the day. So, we were lucky we came up with a different technology. It was a device. It was an ocular implant that we coated with a steroid and then put a polymer matrix on it to make sure that it just didn't wash away immediately. And we ultimately sold that to a company called Sermotix in Minneapolis. And from start to finish, that was about five years. 
So, I then took some time off. And then South Alabama knew that I was looking for technology, so they approached me about a technology similar to a pap smear. Now guys know nothing about pap smears.

Marcus: Sure.

Micheal: But, having two daughters and being married, what I learned was, the pap smear addresses cervical cancer, 'cause it detects HPV, which is a precursor. But ovarian cancer is different. Ovarian cancer, 90% of the women who are diagnosed with ovarian cancer in the United States, are already in stage three or stage four. So that's why it's called, "the silent killer." And of those 90% who are diagnosed in stage three or stage four, roughly three out of four, 75% of them die. 
So, the Mitchell Cancer Institute, through some inventors named Doctor Mike Finan, Doctor Rod Rocconi and Doctor Lewis Pannell, came up with a technology similar to the pap smear, and that is, we'll take a sample of that fluid but we're trying to find a fingerprint of certain proteins or peptides that either go up or go down in the early stages of ovarian cancer. So, similar to a pap smear, but targeting ovarian. So, we started that project in roughly 2010, it's still going on. It won a 1.2 million dollar grant from the National Institutes of Health. And an international award for Best Research. Which, of course, credit for that goes entirely to the team at the Mitchell Cancer Institute. So that project has been ongoing and we just received some good data, and because of my position at South Alabama, I am no longer in day-to-day activities and administrative control. I passed that on, though I do still serve as Chairman of the Board of the company.

Marcus: Wow.

Micheal: So, you know, knock on wood, we'll have some good results from that in a year or so.

Marcus: Now, it's just really interesting, because I don't think people understand just how much is happening on campus, as far as the biotech side of things goes. But with University of South Alabama has an excellent medical program. Excellent nursing, residency and all that stuff that goes along with that. And it's nice to know that there's a research arm that's also looking to do things like this. How much would you assign a percentage split between actual practical application of medicine versus research at University of South Alabama? I mean what's the split, would you say?

Micheal: Wow, that's an interesting question. I don't know that I could answer that. I think, you know, the only metric I would know if you compared our spin and research versus time spent seeing patients.
Marcus: That's kind of unfair, yeah.

Micheal: Yeah, it would be. And what you have, is you have, at the Mitchell Cancer Institute, you have two wings, for example. One is a research wing, and you come in and, if you've ever been there, and you'll see people actually doing the research. And the other wing is people actually being treated. So that's the beauty of the concept that was created, financed and promoted by the Mitchell family, who, you know, between Arlene Mitchell and Abe Mitchell, continue to make a really critical difference.

Marcus: What do you see there, I mean, as far as the efforts that are going, like, you may not be able to talk about everything that you all are researching, but obviously this one has a huge impact. Right? Are there numbers for the amount of women that are affected by this every year?

Micheal: Well, roughly almost 20,000 women die every year. But, that's a little misleading, because every woman lives in fear of this disease. Because, if you are diagnosed-

Marcus: It's almost like breast cancer.

Micheal: There's a 90%, yeah, it's tough. If you look at the Mitchell Cancer Institute, for example, you know, pancreatic, breast, prostate, ovarian, endometrial, you go just down the street to Children and Women's and you have one of the few trauma and burn units for kids and just between, what we call the NICU and the PICU, some amazing things are being done to save babies that are the size of a coffee cup sometimes, when they're born. So, it's pretty amazing stuff that they're doing. But on the research side, I would just tell you that research is critically important. I remember reading in a book once, that most of the great discoveries that have been made have not been followed by someone saying, "Voila!" Meaning, you know, "I was right. I did that this morning. I found it!"

Marcus: Yeah.

Micheal: Rather, most of the discoveries have been followed by someone scratching their head and saying, "Gee, that's funny."

Marcus: That's the PG version of what they're saying, but yeah.

Micheal: Well, you look at penicillin.

Marcus: Yeah.

Micheal: You look at Viagra, of all things. You look at Botox. Botox started as an ocular treatment. Viagra started as just a, increasing blood circulation. And people came back and said, "Gee, I don't see any wrinkles anymore," or, "Gee, something else funny happened."

Marcus: Right.

Micheal: And microwaves. I mean, the list goes on and one. The point being, it's a journey. And that's what research is, that you can't always just give someone money and say-
Marcus: Fix this.

Micheal: Yeah. What happens, and it's happened to me every single time in business. I never wind up with what I start with. You always, the trendy term now is, "pivot," and the reason is, you get into the science, or if you're in business, you get into your customers and you find, "Gee, I thought they really wanted this. But they don't really want that. They want that."

Marcus: Right.

Micheal: There's the old saying that when IBM first started, it wasn't international, and it wasn't a business and there were no machines. And a lot businesses kind of start like that. But, that's the way research is. But, I would tell you from the commitment of Doctor Waldrop, our President, to Lynne Chronister, our VP of Research, there is a very, very high push for research because of all the amazing things that are being done.

Marcus: Yeah. Going back to your comment about, "pivot," being a trendy word for ... I was listening to somebody on another podcast, and he was basically describing that as all the screw ups that you have along the way. You know, 'cause you may not have all the information, so as you're kind of going down that journey like you're describing, you're noticing other things and they may lead you down a different path.

Micheal: Well, I mean, I give a lot of talks about mistakes you could make. Because sometimes I think I'm an expert because I've made just about all of them. And that's kinda what business is. You, maybe not be strictly a mistake, but it could be an assumption that you've made that just proves to be incorrect. And the market customers lead you to where you need to be or you perish, you know?

Marcus: So you've accomplished some great things in business. And now you have a role that plays heavily into the educational side of things. What was behind that decision, if you don't mind.

Micheal: No, I don't mind at all. At this point in my life, I'm really interested in trying to make a difference. So I was honored to be asked to serve as Chairman of the Mobile Chamber back in 2014 and one of my whole, I guess every Chairman has the opportunity to endorse some projects, and mine was kind of mentoring and entrepreneurship training. And thanks to the efforts of a guy like Dean Parker, we got that 1702 going, and it's still going now. South was very, has always been very good to me. And they came and approached me with this new position, and talked to me about applying, and I did. And the thing I like about it is, in the position that I have, I'm able to look at all of the technology of the school and help out in any way I can. And my office is research innovation, so we rely heavily on people like Doctor Andrew Burr, who's head of the commercialization unit, to help commercialize the technology. But, we do whatever we can to help the scientists and students. So, I tell people briefly, my job is to bring business expertise and experience to scientists and students.

Marcus: Right.

Micheal: That's kind of the short form.

Marcus: 'Cause they have the practical, technical knowledge, but maybe not the business [inaudible 00:14:46] of giving that, because, and you've mentioned this before in other places, so I think it is something that you can talk about. But there is actually a commercial side of this, right? So U.S.A. is doing the research and the idea is that U.S.A. takes these products, builds them up to a certain point, they get launched as a commercial entity, and then some of those funds get funneled back into additional research. 

Micheal: Or they're licensed directly to a pharmaceutical company without any company being informed. For example. But not, within the last four or five years, I think, not sure it's true now, South was in the top 10 or top 12 schools in the United States, in terms of royalty income.

Marcus: Wow.

Micheal: So, that's attributable to a couple of key technologies, but they're in pretty good company.

Marcus: Well, and I would imagine that also drives their ability to offer additional courses and do additional research. That money comes back and gets used in other ways, so that's really good news for this area.

Micheal: I wanted to comment on something you said about researchers not all the time knowing about the business side. Which, is correct. And sometimes the motivations aren't necessarily there, because there's certainly a push to publish, get tenure, but we're very lucky to have a number of people who are interested in what we call translational, or in the life science side, you would call it, "from bench to bedside," and that is, research really only makes a difference if you push it out to the people who can use it. Whether those people be a patient or a client.

Marcus: In other words, it's just an exercise in-

Micheal: Exactly. And what's really neat right now is, you know, the National Science Foundation is kind of an arm of the federal government and gives away billions of dollars every year in grants to scientists. And what they've done, is they've recognized that you know, we're tired of giving money to scientists who build things that nobody wants. So, they started about five years ago, a pilot program called, "Innovation Core," which is called, "I-Core," for short. And they started with like 20 teams, and they trained them and some business methodologies called, "Lean Launch," and, "Business Model Canvas." And they would start with the business hypothesis, their critical assumptions, and over an eight to 10 week period, learn these methods, go out, get out of the building and go interview people. Not at schools, but, you know, in Pharmaceutical companies, hospitals, doctor's offices, or automobile manufacturers. Wherever. And in that first cohort of companies, what they found was 80%, think of that, 80% of the teams that went through the program, pivoted. Meaning, either the technology changed, or the product changed, or the market, the customer segment that they were targeting changed based on what they learned.
So, what has happened is, the federal government has kind of endorsed this concept on a big scale, so throughout the United States, there are I-Core sites that are being formed, where the federal government will give an institutions like the University of South Alabama, money to train teams in this technology. And it will pair, not just those scientists, but you will pull then, students. Grad students-

Marcus: Interesting.

Micheal: And qualified undergrads into this process to do this customer discovery. We've applied for one of those grants, and we hope to hear very soon that we be one of those I-Core schools.

Marcus: No, that's cool. Yeah, I mean, you know, I don't know if it's an unspoken thing or what, but often times you hear about Birmingham, Birmingham, Birmingham when it comes to, especially when it comes to orthopedics, right? Because, with all the emphasis that, I think it's the Anderson Institute, has done with knees and shoulders and stuff like that, you know, everybody immediately thinks of Birmingham when it comes to leading the way in the technology behind medical and stuff like that. And I want people to hear these stories that you're telling of what's going on here in our backyard. Because there are some very cool things happening. And I won't get into specifics, but we have somebody that was directly affected and has been given great care locally. And it was a very cool thing, to see that they didn't have to go elsewhere. They received, for something that was extremely important, great care. It went flawlessly, and it wasn't your standard like, "Hey, you have the flu, here's a script," it was something fairly serious.

Micheal: I'm just gonna give kudos to the Mitchell family, because, at least for the Mitchell Cancer Institute and a lot of the things that they do, because the premise of that family has always been to give the money to make a difference while they're living, so they can help ensure that it goes to the purposes they want. And Mayer Mitchell, who has now passed away, what you just described is exactly what motivated him to start that process with his brother, Abe, and Mayer's wife, Arlene. He got cancer and had to go to Buffalo, Rochester to get treatment, years and years ago. And so, as a result of that, said people should not have to leave Mobile, Alabama to get quality care. 

Marcus: Yeah. No, that's good. So you, as a business owner, you've served a number of roles. You mentioned it earlier. Chairman of the Board for the Mobile Chamber of Commerce, and what do you see, like, when you look at Mobile, 'cause we're kinda switching gears here, what do you see happening in Mobile, and I can lead that question a little bit, in just that I feel there's a resurgence of entrepreneurial spirit that is kind of filling Mobile with a new vision of the Stimpson Administration and stuff like that. But, what do you see, from your experience?

Micheal: If you look back in time, four to five years, what has been done and accomplished in the last four or five years is just remarkable, when you see what's going on. Sandy Stimpson has done a fabulous job as Mayor. He has an innovation team that's doing wonderful things that's received national attention on some of their efforts on identifying and eliminating blight. You have the innovation portal downtown. Four or five coworking spaces. And I'm most familiar with Exchange 202, because Todd Greer is such a force of nature there. We just, and I will say the one thing that we have going for us, that many people don't understand is, that we all collaborate. And it's all the way down to the fact that, and Mobile, unlike a lot of places, the city and the county don't have their own business development arms, they contract with the Chamber of Commerce here. And we have one of the largest, oldest and best Chamber of Commerce's that you'll find anywhere in the United States. One percent of the Chambers of the United States have a five-star rating, our Chamber has had that five-star rating for 15 years in a row. And Bill Sisson does-

Marcus: He's phenomenal. Just every time I get a chance to go over there and just hear about some of the things that they're involved in. I mean, they're actively recruiting. They just got back from Paris. This'll be released in a couple of weeks, so it will have been a longer time period, but they just got back from Paris and, you know, they're talking about courting Airbus to bring a wing here, because the wing would then bring all the suppliers and all the jobs that go with the suppliers and all those things. And there's a real visionary kind of aspect, to what they're doing and how they're trying to transform this area. So, it's cool to see.

Micheal: I have a document that I use a lot when I deal with businesses outside Mobile because most people aren't familiar with Mobile. And basically, what I tell them is, it's a town of 200,000. The MSA is 600,000. And they're 1.5 million people in a 70-mile radius. And that gets their attention. And then when you talk to them about five or six specific business clusters, industry clusters, we have the most diverse economy in the state of Alabama. Clearly, and along the Gulf Coast. We have industry clusters in chemical, steel, energy, maritime, ship building, logistics, and supply, transportation. All those things in just the last four or five years, if you talk about Airbus, ThyssenKrupp, Alstel, now you have Walmart and you have Amazon. Everything is just kind of coming together. And all the entrepreneurial activity is a real help. Because businesses are interested in that.

Marcus: Yeah, they wanna see that there's a vibrant entrepreneurial business community. If you were talking with somebody that was looking to start a business, or that was early in their journey, what bit of advice would you give them? What bit of wisdom?

Micheal: Well, that would depend on the business, but, I think it's important that you reach out to people who are in the business and talk to them or customers of the business. Ask them what their needs are. Read a book called, "Lean Launch," by Eric Ries. It talks about the customer discovery process. And you wanna find out, what problem are you trying to solve when you create the business. What are you trying to give the customer? What kind of pain or problem are you trying to eliminate? And make sure you're right. What you don't wanna do, is spend two years building something or creating a service and find out that nobody wants it. So I would say, talk to people, do a little reading. It never hurts. And that's a good start.

Marcus: Folks, he's listened to the podcast before, because he knows my next question is, what two books have you read? Or I'll often give people an out. If it's not two books, maybe two resources that you've used that have been extremely helpful in your career or that you've found interesting over, say, the course of the last year.

Micheal: Oh wow. Let's see. I'm reading Friedman's, "Thank You For Being Late," right now.

Marcus: I haven't seen that one.

Micheal: It's a great book. I'll read anything by Friedman. I'll read anything by Walter Isaacson. He wrote, "The Innovators," he also did the bio of Steve Jobs, which I thought was fascinating. So Friedman's book covers a lot of territory. But it talks about, kind of the entrepreneurial journey in one portion of the book. And he actually will be in Birmingham in October, speaking. So that book, I'm trying to finish now. I mentioned Eric Ries' book, on the business side. But I kinda change around. Books I've loved, I mean the biography of John Adams, "Undaunted Courage," by Stephen Ambrose. I think if you're an American you need to read stuff like that from time to time just to remind you of what an incredible journey the country's had.

Marcus: Yeah. What do you like to do in your free time? Do you have any hobbies? And I laugh when I say that to entrepreneurs, 'cause most of us struggle with that.

Micheal: Well, love archery. So, I don't get to do a lot of it, but I do have a small range set up in my backyard. Love to read, and I'd say those, archery and-

Marcus: Spending time with family, obviously.

Micheal: Well, I love to exercise, so I've got a spinning bike that-

Marcus: Oh, cool.

Micheal: I spend a lot of time on.

Marcus: Do you ride outdoors besides, you know, just the spinning bike.

Micheal: No, you know, I wish I were brave enough to do that. But all of my friends, they love it, but they've all been hit. And so-

Marcus: My wife won't let me have a bike since we moved down here. I was an avid cyclist when we lived in DC, 'cause we had a lot of areas we could go to where you didn't have any issues. But we've known at least three people, I think, that have been killed on bikes down here. And it's just, I don't know what it is but it's just a shame. I wish there was something we could do to kind of influence that in a more positive direction.

Micheal: You know, there's a group that leave Carpe Diem every morning at like 5:15.

Marcus: Yeah.

Micheal: And it's an amazing group, but I'm like you, it's a little scary.

Marcus: I like to be alive, a little bit more than I like to bike.

Micheal: So, let me ask you a question.

Marcus: Sure.

Micheal: What have you been reading lately?

Marcus: "Managing by the Numbers," which I don't remember the author. It's something that was suggested to me by Abe. And then there's another one that I've been starting, and I'm gonna look real quick. It's either, "The Death of Advertising," and it was suggested by Rich Sullivan from Red Square. He posted it to Instagram and, of course, if Rich says, "Read it," I'd be a moron not to pick it up. So, it's basically the discussion of the switch from, there was a heavy dependence on TV and radio and billboards and newspapers and printed materials, and we're moving away from that in more to an area where advertising is happening here on our mobile devices. Whether it's Facebook or Instagram or content or videos on YouTube or whatever, and so it's extremely important for us to be aware of that, obviously. But, I'm not quite through that book yet. But the, "Managing by the Numbers," was I think, something that the Emerging Leaders Group-

Micheal: Good.

Marcus: It was on their-

Micheal: I've heard of it. If I've read it, I don't remember.

Marcus: It's, you know, I'm not a numbers guy. I have to try to do that. But it is extremely important, and I know that as a business owner, that focusing on understanding profit and loss statements and keeping a balance sheets and the cash flow spreadsheets and things of that nature, they're all ... You're smiling 'cause you know it's like, yep, those are the lifeblood of a business. So, but you know, for a long time, if I'm quite frank, as a freelancer, you don't really care. You know, if there's money coming in, it's usually going into your pocket. But as you start to grow that business, those things become extremely important. Especially as you're trying to plan, you know, whether you hire another person, or whether you move into a new space. All those kinds of things, they become very dependent on what you're forecasting three and four months out. So, that has been a very good book. Although I will say, I have to take that book in very small chunks.

Micheal: Yeah. I understand that. You know, I didn't tell you about one thing that I'd like to mention, and it's, I give credit to the Mayor's office, the City Council and the County Commission, and the Chamber of Commerce, who came together and set aside some money to send a group of us to MIT, in Cambridge. And I went. Doctor Don Mosley from the University of South Alabama, Melton Center for Entrepreneurship, Haley Van Antwerp with the Innovation Portal, Todd Greer of Exchange 202, and Mel Washington of the Small Business Development Center.

Marcus: All the people that are highly influential in this town right now.

Micheal: Well, they're just a really good group. And they let me go. And so, we received three days of intense training on MIT's branded team-based mentoring approach that they've been doing for 17 years to about 70 different groups from about 20 different countries. And the University of South Alabama will house the license for the MIT program, but we came back and so we're very excited. We're in the selection and training process and planning, really right now. But we hope to launch that in January and make it available certainly to South Alabama. To businesses there, but, to the Innovation Portal, as well as clients of the SBDC, and Chamber. So, we're very thankful to our government leaders for having the foresight to do that. And it's, MIT's had a very, very good experience with this team-based approach, and we're excited to launch that in January.

Marcus: We had a breakfast two days ago, with Liz Freeman and Bill Sisson, and my one thing that I suggested, and they did bring up this program. The one thing that I suggested because I was not aware of the program, was that there are many things that small business owners in this area don't understand. From the financials to proper structuring of a business, of how much to spend on advertising, and how much should I be spending on rent and all these various things. Do I need to talk to a banker and when? And the answer is early if you're listening to this podcast. Create a relationship with a banker. It doesn't do you any harm to know somebody and have them believe in what it is that you're doing. But, you know, it was very interesting. I had some conversations with Darrell afterward about the program that you're mentioning, and it sounds phenomenal. 
Because I think, you know, we have a lot of people in this area, this is a very small business-minded community. We have a lot of people in this area that basically, currently have jobs. Right? They're business owners but they own their job. And I would love to see them have access to the information that's needed in order to grow those businesses, so they can provide others with jobs. And that is where we start to chip away at the unemployment rate. Because, I think what the Chamber is noticing right now, is that the unemployment rate is staying steady, even though we're bringing in a lot of jobs. Those people are coming in from outside areas. And we all know, because we can feel it on the streets when you're driving around, there is a huge influx of people moving to this area. Whether it be West Mobile or Eastern Shore. And so, we need others, besides the big companies, to be generating enough revenue to where they can hire people and provide jobs for them and security and stuff like that. So, I think that's phenomenal that they're doing that.

Micheal: I think big companies are not the answer to all the questions, but they are a multiplier. 

Marcus: Sure. 

Micheal: Someone like Airbus brings in a lot of suppliers. I remember the story because I used to do a lot of business in Minneapolis. Medtronic is responsible for spinning out 300 companies over the past 30 or 40 years. And that doesn't mean they're owned by Medtronic, it means engineers leaving, or engineers retiring.

Marcus: Wow.

Micheal: And on the side, starting a small business. And I think you'll see that here. And we often say at the Chamber, 96% of all businesses in Alabama are small businesses. And I don't think the Chamber here forgets that. But, I agree with you. Those kinds of resources are needed. And you mentioned about Darrell Randall and Donette Richards do a fabulous job on the small business side of the Chamber.

Marcus: Yeah, I very much appreciated getting to know them over the course of the last year or so. Anyway, where can people find you if they wanna learn more about the research and stuff like that, not necessarily you in specific, but how can they learn more?

Micheal: Well, they can email me at MichaelChambers@SouthAlabama.edu and I'm happy to respond to any questions they might have.

Marcus: Very good. Well, I wanna thank you again for coming on the podcast. To wrap up, any final thoughts?

Micheal: No, I mean, I'd just tell you how much I appreciate what you're doing. You've shared with me that this is really a service to the community in trying to interview people who might have information that would help others. And so, I just wanna thank you for taking the time out of your business day, when you otherwise, would be trying to make money, to do this for the community. So, we thank you for that.

Marcus: I appreciate you saying that. Thank you. Well, again, I wanna thank you for coming on. It's been a pleasure sitting with you and hearing about your journey.

Micheal: Thanks. Thank you.