Initiatives - April 2022

Page 1

APR 2022

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SCIENCE, page 20


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Joined in January ACES Group, LLC AKB Consulting, Inc. Alfa Insurance – Todd Powers BrightEyed Brands Dryer Vent Squad of Huntsville Get Premier Green Humana MarketPOINT International Paper Huntsville Jeffrey B. Irby, P.C. KSI Group, LLC Linscomb & Williams Madison Crossings PhishFirewall, Inc. Pierce X, LLC ReLogic Research, Inc. The Foundation Specialists TOOTRiS Valley Homes Realty & Property Management

Become a Chamber Member In addition to investing in the economic growth of the entire region, as a Chamber member, you receive a variety of important benefits:

If you want to make a valuable investment in your business and the community, the Huntsville/Madison County Chamber is the place to start. Contact Crystal Baker, Membership Retention Specialist: 256-535-2039 or

Joined in February Advanced Roofing & Construction, LLC Ampersand Solutions Group, Inc. Bankers Life and Casualty Company Convergint Decisive Intel Dog Training Elite Huntsville Embassy Suites by Hilton Huntsville Hotel and Spa Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University Flow Supreme Air Sports Global Management Systems, Inc. (GMSI) JRC Integrated Systems Lakeland Industries Laurel at Dry Creek Mason Dixon Bakery and Bistro North Alabama Title & Escrow, LLC Northwestern Mutual SJ&L General Contractor, LLC Thrash Commercial Contractors, Inc. Three15 Studio T-Mobile Home Town Expert – Yvonne Satila Villas at Kelly Springs Vitality Living Upland Park

■ Build business relationships, create partnerships, and grow your business ■ Listing in the online Membership Directory ■ Specially designed professional development programs to grow your talent and strengthen your business ■ Brand exposure through the Chamber’s multimedia platforms to fellow member companies and the region’s business community ■ Priority communications to keep you updated on the latest business news and information impacting your business


initiatives APR 2022

MEMBERS: Please check out to support gift card purchases through our local restaurants and retail stores. It is FREE to list your business there.




AS OF MARCH 18, 2022



Corporate Office Properties Trust (COPT) ■ Crestwood Medical Center Dynetics, Inc. ■ Lockheed Martin Corporation PNC Bank ■ Raytheon Technologies ■ SAIC SES - Science and Engineering Services, LLC Teledyne Brown Engineering, Inc. ■ Torch Technologies ■ Yulista

CHAMBER TRUSTEES Akima, LLC ■ Bill Penney Toyota/Mitsubishi ■ Booz Allen Hamilton, Inc. Five Stones Research Corporation ■ Intrepid ■ Jerry Damson Honda Acura KBR ■ Landers McLarty Dodge Chrysler Jeep Ram ■ Lanier Ford Shaver & Payne P.C. Parsons ■ S3, Inc. ■ Sealy Management Company, Inc. SportsMED Orthopaedic Surgery & Spine Center ■ Synovus Turner Construction Company


PROGRESS PARTNERS Ability Plus, Inc. ■ Aerojet Rocketdyne ■ Amazon ■ Anglin Reichmann Armstrong, P.C. ■ ASRC Federal ■ B.L. Harbert International, LLC ■ Baron Weather, Inc. ■ BASF Corporation ■ Bradley Arant Boult Cummings LLP ■ Brown Precision, Inc. ■ CFD Research Corporation ■ Colliers International ■ Corporate Tax Advisors Inc. ■ Davidson ■ First Horizon ■ Freedom Real Estate & Capital, LLC ■ Huntsville Botanical Garden ■ Huntsville Tractor & Equipment, Inc. ■ Integration Innovation, Inc. (i3) ■ Keel Point, LLC ■


Leonardo Electronics US Inc. ■ LSINC Corporation ■ Marsh & McLennan Agency, locally known as J. Smith Lanier & Co. ■ The Orthopaedic Center (TOC) ■ Progress Bank ■ Radiance Technologies, Inc. ■ RE/MAX Alliance ■ Robins & Morton ■ RUAG Space USA Inc. ■ ServisFirst Bank ■ SouthState Bank ■ Steak-Out (Rosie’s Restaurants, Inc., & Right Way Restaurants, Inc.) ■ Truist Bank ■ Venturi, LLC ■ Woody Anderson Ford

PROGRESS INVESTORS Accenture Federal Services ■ Air Essentials, Inc. ■ Alpha Beta Technologies, Inc. ■ Amanda Howard | Sotheby’s


International Realty ■ Avion Solutions ■ Averbuch Realty / Enterprises ■ Bailey-Harris Construction ■ Bell Textron Inc. ■ BRPH Architects-Engineers, Inc. ■ Bryant Bank ■ Cadence Bank ■ Canvas, Inc. ■ CB&S Bank ■ Century Automotive ■ CGI Federal ■ Coast Personnel Services ■ Corvid Technologies LLC ■ deciBel Research ■ Deloitte ■ DESE Research, Inc. ■ Express Employment Professionals ■ FITE Building Company ■ FLS Translation & Interpreting ■ Fountain, Parker, Harbarger & Associates, LLC ■ Garver, LLC ■ Hexagon US Federal ■ HEMSI ■ Hiley Automotive Group ■ Huntsville/Madison County Convention & Visitors Bureau ■ INTERFUZE Corporation ■ Investor’s Resource ■ IronMountain Solutions ■ KODA Technologies Inc. ■ L3Harris ■ The Lioce Group, Inc. ■ MSB Analytics, Inc. ■ nLogic, LLC ■ PALCO ■ Phoenix ■ Pinnacle Solutions, Inc. ■ PROJECTXYZ, Inc. ■ QTEC Aerospace ■ Quadrus Corporation ■ Renasant Bank ■ RJ Young Company ■ Rosenblum Realty, Inc. ■ Schoel Engineering Company, Inc. ■ Sigmatech, Inc. ■ Signalink, Inc. ■ Snelling ■ Systems Products and Solutions, Inc. ■ Transcend, The Fearless Company ■ TriVector Services, Inc. ■ Troy 7, Inc. ■ TTL, Inc. ■ ■ Valor Communities ■ Van Valkenburgh & Wilkinson Properties, Inc. ■ Volkert, Inc. ■ Warren Averett, LLC ■ Wilmer & Lee, P.A.

For more information, contact Kristy Drake, Vice President, Investor Relations: 256-535-2036 or


APR 2022 initiatives


table of contents INITIATIVES MAGAZINE – APR 2022

Mission: To prepare, develop, and promote our community for economic growth.



(see staff listing on page 38) Chamber members: You are encouraged to contribute ideas for our publications. Please send items to The Huntsville/Madison County Chamber maintains editorial control.

pages 20-27 HudsonAlpha Institute for Biotechnology sees leadership expansion, rapid growth

on the cover L-R: HudsonAlpha's Neil Lamb and Rick Myers Photo by Hiroko Sedensky

feature stories 10


editorial staff



publisher Chip Cherry, CCE


SXSW 2022 |

editor Claire Aiello



editorial designer Kristi Sherrard



contributing writers











Kayla Brown Lucia Cape Lyndsay Ferguson

advertising Kristy Drake

NASA SLS updates from Artemis Media Day

Talking space science in Austin, TX AMIIC opens manufacturing training facility in CRP Autonomous robotic targets improving military lethality U.S. Paralympics Cycling returns to Huntsville April 8-10

CharityTracker adds 'Jobs' tab

Huntsville High's Space Force JROTC one of 10 in the U.S. Ramping up military recruiting efforts with Hiring Our Heroes Southern Reclaimed Salvage Barn, Bold Agency, and Ruchi

Jamie Russell

more for you HUNTSVILLE MADISON COUNTY ALABAMA Military, space, telecommunications, biotechnology, diversified manufacturing, and a variety of emerging specialties provide challenging work in delightful surroundings. The area enjoys a favorable cost of living and quality of life. Mountains, lakes, woodlands, and the Tennessee River accommodate numerous recreational activities. A temperate climate enhances the season for outdoor sports, including world-class golf, hiking, biking, and fishing. Major concerts, Broadway and symphony performances, extensive permanent collections, and traveling exhibitions contribute to a wonderful way of life.














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UPCOMING CHAMBER EVENTS: your calendar, register today!







Chamber of Commerce of Huntsville/Madison County, Inc. 225 Church St NW, Huntsville, AL 35801 • 256-535-2000


APR 2022 initiatives


a message from chip cherry

Executive Committee & Board of Directors 2022


Executive Committee

Dear Chamber Investors, Community Leaders, and Friends: We are excited to welcome para athletes back to Huntsville for the 2022 U.S. Paralympics Cycling Open, presented by Toyota! A new event has been added for 2023 – the hand cycling relay, which will take place around the lake at Big Spring Park. We are honored to host these amazing athletes again this year. To learn more, read the article on pages 31-32, and make plans to cheer them on April 8-10. Congratulations to Dr. Neil Lamb for his promotion to president of HudsonAlpha Institute for Biotechnology. The HudsonAlpha team played a key role in providing timely insights throughout the Pandemic. The information they provided during the early days was critical to local companies as they made decisions on how to protect their employees while continuing to operate during uncertain times. We greatly appreciate their partnership and celebrate their accomplishments. Learn more about HudsonAlpha in our cover story beginning on page 20. I grew up in a Small Business family. Actually, I was surrounded by entrepreneurs – one grandfather owned a small country store and the other a carpet cleaning company. My father started a wholesale floor covering company when I was 12. The passion of the women and men who start small businesses, coupled with their willingness to place everything on the line, make them special. They are an important part of the fabric of our region’s ecosystem, working to ensure that we have a community where they can raise their families, grow their business, and secure the talent they need to be successful. On pages 36-37, we profile three of 2021’s Small Business of the Year award winners. I encourage you to read their inspiring stories. Yes – we do that here. Changing the perception of the South and Alabama, more specifically the Huntsville Region is a top priority of the Chamber. Proactively engaging with the media and using social media to tell our story is at the forefront of our activities. We have a rich history of solving very hard problems and developing platforms and solutions, and our Nation depends on us. This work ranges from getting man to the Moon; going back to the Moon and getting the first woman and person of color to the surface and back; to addressing the challenges of protecting the country from foreign and domestic threats. That story is being expanded to include making cool products such as the Slingshot, Polaris Ranger, Mazda CX-50, and the Toyota Corolla Cross. All this with a quality of place/life that is amazing. On page 24, you’ll see quotes from newcomers to our community. We need your help to identify more individuals to feature in future publications. Please send recommendations to Thank you for your engagement with the Chamber. I look forward to seeing you at an event soon!

Chip Cherry, CCE President & CEO Huntsville/Madison County Chamber



initiatives APR 2022

Greg Brown, Board Chair – Brown Precision, Inc. Lynn Troy, Chair-elect – Troy 7, Inc. Jeff Gronberg, Immediate Past Chair – deciBel Research, Inc. Ron Poteat, President, Chamber Foundation – Regions Bank Jeff Samz, Secretary/Treasurer – Huntsville Hospital Michelle Jordan, Vice Chair, Diversity, Equity & Inclusion – TARCOG Sameer Singhal, Vice Chair, Economic Development & Workforce – CFD Research Corporation

Ronnie Chronister, Vice Chair, Government & Public Affairs – Dynetics, Inc.

Dr. Karockas Watkins, Vice Chair, HREGI – Ability Plus, Inc. Blake Bentley, Vice Chair, Investor Relations – SportsMED Jim Rogers, Vice Chair, Marketing & Communications – Lockheed Martin Joe Ritch, Vice Chair, Redstone Regional Alliance – Dentons Sirote PC Jami Peyton, Vice Chair, Small Business – Canvas, Inc. Sean Kelly, Chair-Appointed – Regions Bank Jason Puckett, Chair-Appointed – Toyota Motor Manufacturing Alabama Frank Williams, Chair-Appointed – Landers McLarty Dodge Chrysler Jeep Ram

Mayor Tommy Battle, Ex-officio Member – City of Huntsville Mayor Paul Finley, Ex-officio Member – City of Madison Chairman Dale Strong, Ex-officio Member – Madison Co. Commission Chip Cherry, CCE, President & CEO, Huntsville/Madison County Chamber

Elected board Ted Baudendistel, INTERFUZE Corporation David Bier, Anglin Reichmann Armstrong, P.C. Penny Billings, Cadence Bank G.W. Boon, Modern Technology Solutions, Inc. (MTSI) Thomas Busby, SouthState Bank Katie Comer, Meta Tom Conard, The Boeing Company Brett Crain, Huntsville Tractor & Equipment, Inc. Dr. Patti Dare, Raytheon Technologies Melissa Davis, MTA, Inc. Kevin Fernandez, Fernandez Financial Group, LLC Greg Fortier, SAIC Owen Franklin, Blue Summit Supplies Joni Green, Five Stones Research Corporation Ginger Harper, First Horizon Josh Herren, Yulista Jan Hess, Teledyne Brown Engineering, Inc. Tharon Honeycutt, MSB Analytics, Inc. Laura Huckabee-Jennings, Transcend, The Fearless Company Lincoln Hudson, Booz Allen Hamilton, Inc. Tyce Hudson, Freedom Real Estate and Capital, LLC Hank Isenberg, IronMountain Solutions Clint Kirkland, Progress Bank Rich Kretzschmar, Integration Innovation, Inc. (i3) James Lackey, Parsons Todd May, KBR Bob McCaleb, Northrop Grumman Corporation Craig Naudain, The Naudain Group, LLC Nadia Niakossary, RCP Companies Alana Parker, Rocket City Drywall & Supply, Inc. Meredith Payne, Davidson Zack Penney, Bill Penney Toyota/Mitsubishi Chris Russell, Linscomb & Williams Alicia Ryan, LSINC Corporation Beth Sippel, Synovus Wayne Sisco, Redstone Federal Credit Union Tom Stanton, ADTRAN, Inc. Sandra Stephens, Keel Point, LLC Mitch Stevison, Mercury Systems, Inc. Nilmini Thompson, Systems Products and Solutions, Inc. Mark Vaporis, Intrepid Mike Watkins, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Alabama John Watson, Torch Technologies A HUNTSVILLE/MADISON COUNTY CHAMBER PUBLICATION


Toyota launches ‘Driving Possibilities’ to support career readiness, community engagement On March 3, Toyota launched a $110 million career readiness and community engagement initiative called Driving Possibilities. This Toyota USA Foundation initiative will roll out across Toyota’s U.S. operational sites, including in Huntsville. The program leverages Toyota’s more than 60 years of active support in communities across the U.S., with a comprehensive strategy to collaborate with academia, local and national nonprofits, and the community. The aim is to help prepare youth for STEM fields and address barriers to learning, where these exist. “We need to better prepare the workforce of the future by providing a broader education and getting the next generation ready for high-growth careers,” said Ted Ogawa, chief executive officer, Toyota Motor North America. “In addition, addressing inequities that create barriers to success will help improve lives throughout the U.S.” Driving Possibilities focuses on PreK-12 education, building on Toyota’s existing programs across the country. The goal of the initiative is to improve communities and get young people excited and prepared for the job market. The program is modeled after the early success of a PreK-8 STEM school in West Dallas, Texas.

Alabama Legislature passes package of military bills On February 24, the Alabama House passed six Senate bills to further enhance Alabama’s pro-military posture. That legislative activity came following Lt. General Donnie Walker’s breakfast meeting with key legislative leaders and his presentation to a joint session of the Legislature. Lt. Gen. Walker is the Deputy Commanding General of the Army’s Materiel Command and the Senior Mission Commander of Redstone Arsenal. The pack of legislation was developed by the Alabama Military Stability Commission, Chaired by Lt. Gov. Will Ainsworth. Bills included in the package will make it easier for military families to transition to Alabama by letting them pre-register their children in school, and make it easier for military spouses to transfer their professional licenses to work in Alabama. The package also included legislation to include a Space Force element in the Alabama National Guard and to provide free higher education benefits to spouses and dependents of military personnel who are killed or disabled in the line of service. Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey has signed the bills into law.

TEC acquires RadioBro Corporation Technology for Energy Corporation (TEC) announced on February 14 it has acquired RadioBro Corporation, an innovative engineering team focused on the development and production of embedded measurement devices and wireless communication technologies for the aerospace and defense industry. “RadioBro has a core set of technologies that collect data remotely and transmit the data back to a server which could be used to benefit our customers in both our electric power and aviation product lines,” said Buddy Simpkins, CEO of TEC. “Additionally, they have focused on avionics development and have technologies that may be useful to our aviation product line helping us expand towards on-board avionics. As an agile company, they are strong in rapid product development and have spent the last seven years developing some cool technology.” “We’re excited to be a part of the growing TEC team,” said Mark Becnel, CEO of RadioBro. “With this new relationship, we’ll be able to rapidly scale and provide unique products and services across multiple industries. The level of service and quality our customers have come to expect will only continue with this new venture with TEC. We’re also excited that this allows us an opportunity for an immediate expansion of several new jobs here in Huntsville, with more to follow.” The team at RadioBro Corporation will continue to develop new products and technologies in their facility located in Huntsville, AL. 10

initiatives APR 2022


Hometown Lenders donates $500K to transform Pediatric Unit More than 4,000 children are admitted to the Pediatrics unit at Huntsville Hospital for Women & Children each year. For many, the hospital is an overwhelming or even scary place. Thanks to one Huntsville-based company, those young patients will now experience a new space meant to make their stay comforting and fun. Hometown Lenders is donating $500,000 through Huntsville Hospital Foundation (HHF) to fund a renovation of the hospital’s fourth floor. This is one of the largest outright one-time corporate contributions in the Foundation’s history. HHF will fund the remaining costs associated with the project.



The renovation includes new flooring, a new nurses’ station, and two revamped playrooms, all featuring a lively under-the-sea theme. Billy Taylor, founder of Hometown Lenders, says he is making the donation in his mother’s memory. The new Pediatrics floor will now be named for Mary Lee Taylor.

National Children’s Advocacy Center gets new Therapy Garden In February, volunteers from the Huntsville Madison County Builders Association and Across The Pond teamed up to build a new therapy garden that will help local children. This garden is located at the National Children’s Advocacy Center and will serve as a place of healing for children who have suffered abuse or trauma. Weather caused a few snags, but it should be finished by early April if not sooner. “We are always looking for ways to give back and benefit our community,” said Barry Oxley, Executive Officer of the HMCBA. “Our YP Committee brought this to our attention and we knew we had to get involved. We’re always blown away by how many of our members are ready to answer the call and give back. While we may be in the business of building houses, we’re all invested in building our community.” One way the NCAC helps children who are dealing with trauma is to help them focus on their immediate surroundings, “grounding” themselves to the here and now instead of the past. “The therapy garden will be a beautiful place to practice taking in the sights, smells, sounds, and textures of nature and be reminded that in this moment, they are safe, and they are loved,” said Erica Hochberger, NCAC’s Intervention and Clinical Director. A HUNTSVILLE/MADISON COUNTY CHAMBER PUBLICATION

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APR 2022 initiatives


Washington Update

featuring U.S. Sen. Tommy Tuberville


n Feb. 22, U.S. Sen. Tommy Tuberville spoke to a crowd of about 775 at the Von Braun Center. He touched on several topics, including the situation between Russia and Ukraine, workforce and supply chain challenges, Huntsville’s role in national defense, ongoing challenges related to COVID-19, and more. Sen. Tuberville also spoke of the five field offices his staff operates around the state of Alabama, to respond to concerns from constituents.



initiatives APR 2022


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APR 25 - MAY 1, 2022


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Prepare for Launch

NASA SLS updates from Artemis Media Day


n March 4, NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center (MSFC) hosted an event to share the latest on the upcoming Artemis missions. The Space Launch System is very close to launch. NASA employees in Huntsville and a number of contractors have been working on various stages of the rocket, which is now at Kennedy Space Center in Florida undergoing final tests. This includes wet dress rehearsal, where the SLS is rolled to the pad to test all systems except for the actual launch, to allow them to catch any technical issues and perform data analysis. The rocket will then be rolled back to the Vertical Assembly Building (VAB) to prepare it for launch. “I am so proud of our team,” said MSFC Director Jody Singer (pictured). “When we launch the SLS, it will be the dedicated work of all our people who have worked so hard to make this vehicle ready, and safe, for generations to come.” We anticipate the launch to happen in late April or early May. Artemis I will be uncrewed. Artemis II will send a crew to the lunar environment, and Artemis III will send astronauts back to the Moon. – Claire Aiello


initiatives APR 2022



Todd May

senior vice president, Science & Space


Tell us about your company... KBR provides science, technology, and engineering solutions to governments and companies around the world. We employ nearly 29,000 people globally with customers in more than 80 countries and operations in 40 countries. I lead the Science and Space business unit of Government Solutions U.S., which provides solutions for NASA, federal civilian agencies, the U.S. Department of Defense, as well as commercial customers. KBR’s in-depth portfolio spans defense modernization; military, civil and commercial space; intelligence; cyber; advanced logistics; and base operations. Capabilities include monitoring Earth’s seismic activity, weather, and landscapes, as well as biological, chemical, and nuclear threats.

What would you like the community to know about your team? KBR is NASA’s second largest pure-play support services provider, deployed at every NASA center and headquarters. We are the largest service provider to the U.S. Geological Survey and proudly support the U.S. Air Force, U.S. Special Forces Command, the Defense Threat Reduction Agency, the DoT, and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. KBR also provides key training for military pilots and astronauts, contributes to intelligent systems research on quantum computing, manages autonomous unmanned air vehicle traffic flow, and develops electronic systems for spacecrafts and healthcare.

What is one of the challenges your company encountered during the pandemic? We’ve found positive benefits of flexible working for most of our team, but one challenge that will continue post-pandemic is the war for talent. As work became increasingly flexible, job opportunities grew exponentially as geographic boundaries dissolved. KBR recruitment teams have gotten creative to include sponsoring the Huntsville Havoc and Rocket City Trash Pandas to highlight our hiring needs, which further drive the community economically. In fact, if anyone is looking for an opportunity where they can grow, develop, and change the world, visit

What would you say to other companies considering an investment in the Chamber or HREGI? Dive in! But remember: You only get what you put in. We are honored to be a part of the Huntsville family and know that our chamber and its economic growth initiatives are part of the engine that drives our city’s success. A rising tide raises all ships, and by working together, we will continue to see the Rocket City rise to new heights! A HUNTSVILLE/MADISON COUNTY CHAMBER PUBLICATION

APR 2022 initiatives


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L-R: Mark Ciotola, Lucia Cape, John Roth, Olivia Holzhaus, and Heath Mills at the SXSW conference in Austin.

SXSW 2022

Talking space science in Austin, TX


he Chamber took its Smart Place message to Austin, Texas, in March as part of the South by Southwest (SXSW) technology, film, and music conference. This year’s event featured a Space Rush Summit as part of the Technology Track that focused on the future of space. The Chamber applied in July for a spot as part of the Panel Picker program that allows the public to vote for panel proposals, and we were notified in November that the panel had been selected. The panel content was based on our ongoing efforts to create demand to land the Sierra Space Dream Chaser® at Huntsville International Airport. Entitled “Microgravity: The Commercial Case for R and D,” the panel featured John Roth, vice president of Business Development for Sierra Space; Olivia Holzhaus, founder and CEO of Rhodium Scientific; Mark Ciotola, CEO of Sustain Space; and Lucia Cape, the Chamber’s senior vice president of Economic Development, who moderated the panel. About 50 people attended the session, and many more attended a coffee break and happy hour hosted by the partners before and after the session. The team was also invited to a dinner the night before with other Technology Track speakers. Last year Sierra Nevada Corporation, which developed the Dream Chaser, announced that its space division would become Sierra Space, a subsidiary that would manage the Dream Chaser and other space activities including Orbital Reef, the commercial station being developed in partnership with Blue Origin. The Chamber has been working with the Dream Chaser team since 2015 to raise awareness and support for the space plane as a key feature of Huntsville’s commercial space economy. The Dream

Chaser enables payloads to land gently and be accessed quickly. Platforms like the Dream Chaser also allow for more frequent access to space and shorter turnaround from orbit to the laboratory. In 2017, the Chamber co-sponsored a competition with the European Space Agency to identify commercial applications for the Dream Chaser. The winner was Sustain Space, and the CEO and his team traveled to Huntsville in 2018 as part of their prize package. They were introduced to HudsonAlpha and have been engaged with them ever since in advancing plant growth cycles to increase nutrition and resilience for use on Earth and in space. The Rhodium team of Founder and CEO Olivia Holzhaus and Chief Scientific Officer Heath Mills joined the team in 2018 at the suggestion of Sierra Space. Rhodium facilitates on-orbit payloads at “the speed of business” while providing the quality assurance expected from land-based laboratories. The message of the panel was that microgravity can provide the environment for not only scientific research but also applied research and development of products that are valuable to the medical, manufacturing, and agriculture industries. With the reduced cost and higher reliability of access to low Earth orbit enabled by commercial launch providers and on-orbit platforms, the return on investment for companies will become undeniable. Companies that are prepared to take advantage of research and development in microgravity will be ahead of the rest. For more information about the Chamber’s Dream Chaser efforts, visit our webpage at – Staff Reports

2015 Announcement of feasibility study at the Paris Air Show

2016 Feasibility study results positive; First Industry Day in Huntsville

2017 Phase II Contract (FAA Permits 433 & 435); Chamber sponsors first ESA Competition “What Would You Do With a Dream Chaser?”

2018 Chamber sponsors 2nd ESA Competition; Workshop with biotech companies at HudsonAlpha (Huntsville)

2019 2nd workshop with biotech companies at HudsonAlpha



APR 2022 initiatives


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Madison County

City of Huntsville

City of Madison

Huntsville Metro Area

community profile

2010 Census






2020 Census









% Growth

Aerospace & Defense

# of Households





Avg. Household Income





Huntsville/Madison County is home to the U.S. Army Redstone Arsenal and NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center which combine to drive a thriving aerospace and defense technology industry. Currently, 44,000 people work at Redstone Arsenal and NASA, managing some of the country’s most important and sophisticated technology programs.

Per Capita Income





Research & Technology


As of March 2022

Sources: U.S. Census Bureau (, American Community Survey Estimates

Huntsville’s Cummings Research Park (CRP) has earned a reputation as a global leader in technology development. The second-largest science and technology research park in the U.S., CRP is home to 320 companies and 26,500 people involved in technology research and development.

Top 15 Employers: Huntsville & Madison County U.S. Army/Redstone Arsenal* . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 38,000 * Huntsville Hospital System . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 9,352 NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center* . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 6,000 The Boeing Company . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3,048 Hexagon . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3,000 Huntsville City Schools . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3,000 Dynetics, Inc. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2,946 SAIC . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2,746 Madison County Schools . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2,389 City of Huntsville . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2,206 Mazda Toyota Manufacturing USA, Inc. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2,023 University of Alabama in Huntsville . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1,979 Northrop Grumman Corporation . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1,970 Toyota Motor Manufacturing Alabama . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1,800 Polaris Industries . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1,500 Source: Huntsville/Madison County Chamber


For more information, visit:

*includes on-site contractors

APR 2022 initiatives


By Claire Aiello

HudsonAlpha Institute for Biotechnology sees leadership expansion, rapid growth

In February, the HudsonAlpha board of directors announced the expansion of its executive leadership team. This comes amid rapid economic growth and advancements the Institute is making in genomics and life science research, as it works to solve challenges related to human health and modern agriculture, while simultaneously engaging and preparing tomorrow’s bioscience workforce. In this issue of Initiatives, we’d like to show you some of the advancements taking place.

L-R: Neil Lamb, Ph.D., and Rick Myers, Ph.D.

Leadership Update Effective July 1, Richard Myers, Ph.D., current president and science director, will serve as HudsonAlpha’s new chief scientific officer and president emeritus. Neil Lamb, Ph.D., current vice president for Educational Outreach, will serve as the new president of the Institute. Momentum from growth and campus expansions have driven the need for an expanded executive team to intelligently manage the workload, maintain the vision, and prime the organization for continued success in the future. According to a recent study, HudsonAlpha has generated $3.2 billion in economic impact for the state of Alabama between 2006 and 2020, with an increase of $750 million during 2019-2020. The campus is home to more than 1,100 employees and 48 associate life science companies. “Rick Myers and Neil Lamb have been critical to the success, innovation, and growth we’ve seen since Lonnie McMillian and I first launched HudsonAlpha,” said Jim Hudson, HudsonAlpha co-founder and chairman of the board. “With Neil’s vision and work ethic leading the organization along with the innovative research led by Rick, we are truly poised to amplify our work as HudsonAlpha’s reach and impact continue to grow.” Dr. Myers has been with HudsonAlpha since its doors opened in 2008, serving as president and science director, and as the M.A. Loya Chair in Genomics since 2020. He came to HudsonAlpha from Stanford’s Human Genome Center, where he led a team that was a major contributor to the Human Genome Project – the international research effort that sequenced the entire human genome. Today at HudsonAlpha, researchers under Dr. Myers’ leadership apply genomic technology to uncover the causes of human diseases and accelerate discoveries in plants and agriculture. As chief scientific officer, Dr. Myers will devote his focus to scientific discovery, achievement, and momentum while providing strategic support and guidance to Dr. Lamb. “At HudsonAlpha, our team is creating improvements for human-

kind every day through research-based discoveries,” said Dr. Myers. “As we take our organization to the next level, it’s critical that we have the tools, resources, and team to continue advancing our research and applying our discoveries in the real world. It is this growth that drives my passion, gives me daily purpose, and excites me for our future. I truly believe the best is yet to come for HudsonAlpha.” Dr. Neil Lamb came to HudsonAlpha in 2006 with a calling to share his passion for human genetics and biotechnology with others through education. He has led HudsonAlpha’s educational outreach team from conception, creating innovative teacher training and toolkits, student experiences, public enrichment, and digital resources that have reshaped how science education is now delivered. Throughout his tenure as vice president for Educational Outreach, Dr. Lamb has been a public ambassador for HudsonAlpha and a strategic internal advisor helping guide the Institute’s growth. As president, he will now drive the strategic vision and lead day-to-day operations for the entire organization. “Rick Myers is not only a close friend and mentor, but the person who introduced me to Jim Hudson and co-founder Lonnie McMillian in the early days of HudsonAlpha,” said Dr. Lamb. “I would not be here if it weren’t for Rick. He has positioned HudsonAlpha for continued growth and success, and I share his vision and excitement for the possibilities of the future. This expansion of our executive team will allow us to focus more resources on our mission and expand our local, regional, and global impact for years to come.” HudsonAlpha and resident associate companies co-located on the biotech campus in Cummings Research Park (CRP) have continued to expand their footprint in multiple sectors across the biosciences including research, testing and medical labs, pharmaceuticals, agriculture feedstock and chemicals, technology development and medical devices and equipment.


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‘Precision Medicine’ Construction is well underway on a global headquarters building for Discovery Life Sciences. This company now employs 500 people around the world, and the building will consist of 90,000 square feet to house Discovery’s research and development, laboratory, and business operations. Discovery is the international market leader in biospecimen procurement, analysis, distribution, and scientific services for the pharmaceutical, biotechnology, and diagnostics industries. Part of their work includes obtaining blood and cancer tissues from people who are sick, in order to understand the disease process down to the gene level. In turn, scientists then work to refine treatments for people who have similar genetic profiles, to ultimately be able to better treat disease from the get-go.

“Treatment of cancer is advancing rapidly because we can now better understand the disease through genomics, and now proteomics; technologies that allow us to identify unique characteristics of each person’s disease and then determine how best to treat them,” said Discovery CEO Glenn Bilawsky. “This is creating the new and quickly emerging capability called ‘precision medicine’. So, rather than each person getting the same treatment as we do with chemotherapy or radiation of tumors, more patient-friendly treatments are already being marketed that actually let the patient’s own body fight the disease and treat themselves. That’s the promise and future of precision medicine and immunotherapy.”

Fighting Pathogens You may not be familiar with the letters AMR, but your doctor is. ‘Anti Microbial Resistance’ refers to bacteria and viruses that change over time and no longer respond to certain medicines. This makes infections tougher to treat and can lead to severe illness and even death. GeneCapture is developing technology that can quickly identify pathogens, which are germs that cause disease. Then, they pair the pathogen with a companion test that determines which antibiotics will fight it. They have a prototype and are developing and engineering this to get it ready for FDA clearance, in hopes of bringing this to the commercial market. “That’s the big thing with infection detection right now – we’re so tied to the lab,” said Peggy Sammon, CEO and co-founder of GeneCapture. “Send the sample to the lab, wait for the lab, so if we can get the lab out of the equation, we can move quickly.” Think of a time you went to the doctor’s office, maybe with symptoms of a urinary tract infection. You may have been prescribed one medicine, only to receive a call a few days later that your doctor got the test results and was calling in a different prescription. “While all of this is getting figured out, antibiotics are getting thrown in,” said Sammon. “You may not be getting the right antibiotic until far into the course of the infection.” At the current time, Sammon says typical turnaround for test results is about three days, although some labs such as Diatherix at HudsonAlpha can turn it around within 24 hours. But that’s not typical – and sometimes in a rural or military setting, test results can take up to seven or 10 days. GeneCapture has been awarded contracts from the Department of Defense to develop military applications as they further develop the prototype. The team is also fine-tuning a portable device which accepts the test cartridge, then displays results in a short amount of time, without the need for refrigeration. “This could be in a doctor’s office or a battalion aid station out in the field, and easily transported in a small case in a jeep or helicopter,” Sammon explained.

Top photo: Dr. Shawn Fahl examines a specimen under a specialized microscope at Discovery Life Sciences. Above: Peggy Sammon (center) with the GeneCapture team in the lab as they refine their pathogen testing prototype. A HUNTSVILLE/MADISON COUNTY CHAMBER PUBLICATION

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Shaista Qureshi – moved from Georgia “We love the diversity in this community and the people, food, and schools are amazing. I have been in the United States for almost 30 years and this is the first place where people have actually approached me and sincerely welcomed me to the community. I plan to retire here.”

Gerrit Burke – moved from Texas “When I was in Houston, TX looking to move back to Huntsville in 2011, it was through ASmartPlace that I got my shot. I’ve been back for just over ten years now and could not be happier!”

Natalie Lapacek-Trout – moved from Arizona “My family and I moved to the Huntsville area a year ago, and we love it here. My sons are thriving in their schools, and we’ve found neighbors and friends who have helped us feel right at home. The sense of community, along with all the perks and convenience of a city, make Huntsville a wonderful place to live and grow.”

Chance Hill – moved from Colorado

“I recently moved here from Colorado Springs, and I am already loving Huntsville! The affordable cost of living, the friendly culture, and the tremendous business opportunities make Huntsville a very attractive place to be.”

Scott Stein – moved from Missouri “Our family has been amazed by Huntsville’s sense of community since we moved here four years ago. There are so many activities for everyone, we are always on the go. We love you, Huntsville!”

Bonita Guyer – moved from Arizona “My husband and I recently moved to Huntsville from Tucson, and I’m so glad we did. I really like the strong sense of community, friendly and welcoming people, the beautiful countryside, and close access to so many resources and opportunities.”

Kaitlyn Schisler – moved from Canada “Everyone here has been incredibly welcoming, which is such a relief after moving so far away from home! I already feel as though I have a second family here. On top of that, the scenery is absolutely beautiful! Huntsville really is the best of both worlds; the perfect mix of city and nature.”


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Gilbert Rincon – moved from California

“My family and I love Alabama. It is very refreshing to be surrounded by genuinely friendly people who encompass such a strong community. I also enjoy the many opportunities for my kids (sports, entertainment, school, i.e.) and the beautiful scenery.” A HUNTSVILLE/MADISON COUNTY CHAMBER PUBLICATION

The new 13,000-square-foot greenhouse is almost finished on HudsonAlpha's campus. It will offer expanded space for the plant faculty team, pictured here in various research fields in Illinois and Alabama.

Plant & Agriculture Expansions On the HudsonAlpha campus, construction is also underway on a new 13,000-square-foot greenhouse scheduled to be finished this spring. This will offer expanded lab and research space for the plant faculty team to propagate and grow plants to improve existing crops, and develop new uses for plants. Some of these include sugar cane, switchgrass, and miscanthus. These plants have uses – switchgrass can be used in pastures for cattle grazing, and it’s also being researched as a potential biomass crop to produce energy. Miscanthus can also be used for energy production. Another project currently in the works is a program funded by the Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs (ADECA) to support local barley and bean growth in different parts of our state, and working through the process to partner with end users for brewing and food applications to increase the value of these Alabama crops. Jeremy Schmutz is one of five plant faculty members at HudsonAlpha, along with wife Jane Grimwood, Ph.D. The two have been at HudsonAlpha since 2008 and co-direct the Genome Sequencing Center. They are also part of The Center for Plant Science and Sustainable Agriculture, whose five faculty members work with partners such as Auburn University and Alabama A&M University to grow different varieties of crops to improve productivity and grower yield. “HudsonAlpha is one of the world’s largest genomics institutes in plant science and we collaborate with research groups everywhere to discover and then apply the discoveries to crop improvement,” said Schmutz. “We also will work closely with HudsonAlpha’s Educational Outreach team to attract the next generation of plant science students. These students need to be trained and inspired to go further to make an even greater impact in improving agriculture.”


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Training the Next Generation of Scientists Michele Morris is the workforce development lead for Educational Outreach at HudsonAlpha. She works to build a pipeline of activities for middle and high school, undergraduate, and graduate students in an effort to support future workforce needs in the fields of genetics, genomics, and biotechnology. Morris has been working with students for 13 years. “I see students who start in our programs and move all the way through them because they become engaged and excited about all of the opportunities that they find,” said Morris. “They’re able to engage in something that they’re very passionate about with others who also care about science. We can give them experiences and give them confidence, and help them see this is something they can do, this is not outside the realm of possibility.”

Biotech Academy is for students who are nominated by life sci-

ence teachers at 18 local high schools. It is an intensive four-week summer course designed to provide a strong foundation in research


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Success Stories Jordan Manchego

Jordan Manchego grew up in Huntsville and attended a summer camp at HudsonAlpha in 2013, called “I Want to Work in a Lab Coat.” She continued to attend summer programs, performing experiments and using equipment that wasn’t available at her high school. During college, she assisted with HudsonAlpha’s Advanced Placement Program for Learning Enhancement (APPLE), which places volunteer scientists and college students in high school classrooms with equipment and materials for classroom lab experiments. By volunteering with APPLE, Manchego visited nearly every local Huntsville high school and engaged with hundreds of students. She graduated with her Bachelor of Science from UAH in the spring of 2021, and is now attending Michigan State University to earn her Ph.D. lab skills and an introduction to the latest discoveries in genetics, genomics, and biotechnology.

Genes & Greens is a three-week

summer program that shows students how genetic research is shaping the future of farming by improving agriculture and protecting the environment. “We need more students in ag science and plant science as a career. Most students are interested in human medicine, but we find that when we introduce plant science to them, they get really interested really quickly,” said Morris. Morris has seen local students start in these programs in middle school, come back for high school courses, become peer mentors, do college-level programs and later go on to pursue their PhDs, hearing them say the reason they went into science is because of programs at HudsonAlpha. “We also know the experiences we are able to offer at HudsonAlpha aren’t common, aren’t easy to find,” Morris explained. For last summer’s Genes & Greens program, she referenced a student who came from Memphis, whose mother and sister moved here for three weeks and rented an Airbnb. She said another student came up from Foley, Ala., and she and her family lived in the community clubhouse of her uncle’s neighborhood. “The student said ‘there is nothing like this where I’m from, and this is what I want to do,’ so that’s a really nice testament to the programs we have. Another student drove back and forth from Pelham each day.”

BioTrain is an internship pro-

gram for college students, who are dispersed across the Institute. About 350 students have completed BioTrain, including Morris herself, who was in the first cohort. HudsonAlpha offers several education programs. All are listed on under the ‘Educate’ tab.


Kim siblings

Siblings Joelle, Noah, and Dani Kim have all explored biotechnology through programs at the HudsonAlpha Institute for Biotechnology. Joelle, the oldest, participated in the Summer Short Course in 2016 and learned about genetics and scientific research. She went on to attend Baylor University, and during her studies, worked in a cancer research lab. This experience gave her a passion for science research and she decided to return to HudsonAlpha as an intern to build on her genetics knowledge and research experience. In the summer of 2019, she joined HudsonAlpha once again as a BioTrain Intern working in the Myers Lab.

“I think a huge benefit to the structure of HudsonAlpha, and by extension the nature of its programs, is the collaborative approach it has in connecting education, research, clinical application, and entrepreneurship,” said Joelle. “As a part of the BioTrain internship program, my fellow interns were not only budding scientists but also business and communications majors. By working at HudsonAlpha, I experienced firsthand the multifaceted approach of science research working alongside industry and patient care.” Noah Kim, the middle sibling, explored biotechnology through HudsonAlpha’s BioTech Academy program, which introduces juniors and seniors to fundamental lab procedures and research techniques. Upon graduation, Noah attended Auburn University to study Mechanical Engineering and Physics. Dani Kim, the youngest sibling, is a junior at Virgil Grissom High School. She has participated in HudsonAlpha’s “Genes and Greens” program. The Kim siblings all credit HudsonAlpha as an influencer along their career journey. APR 2022 initiatives




with Gov. Kay Ivey Thursday, April 14 Von Braun Center North Hall Presenting Sponsor: LSINC Corporation

Wednesday, April 20 Jackson Center Presenting Sponsor: Regions Bank Event Partner: The Schools Foundation CURRENTLY SOLD OUT – WAITING LIST ONLY

Networking Presenting Sponsor: RJ Young

Business & Brews Thursday, April 14 • 5-7 p.m.

Breakfast & Biz Tuesday, May 3 • 7-9 a.m.

Professional Development Series Advanced Excel: Logic & Time Functions Tuesday, April 5

Advanced Word: Mail Merge Tuesday, April 19

Intro to Cryptocurrency Tuesday, May 10

Intro to Google Drive Tuesday, May 24

Proclamation Signing Monday, June 27 • 8 a.m. Veterans Memorial Park

Concert in the Park & Fireworks Show Monday, June 27 • 6:30 p.m. Big Spring Park Fireworks Sponsor: Lockheed Martin Corporation

Redstone / Community Softball Game Tuesday, June 28 • 6 p.m. Toyota Field Presenting Sponsor: Systems Products and Solutions, Inc.

AFC Luncheon Wednesday, June 29 • Noon VBC South Hall Ballrooms Presenting Sponsor: Northrop Grumman Corporation

Hands-On Prep

AMIIC opens manufacturing training facility in CRP


n February 11, the Advanced Manufacturing Innovation and Integration Center (AMIIC) cut a celebratory ribbon on its new facility in Cummings Research Park. It is located just across from the University of Alabama in Huntsville (UAH), and the nonprofit will work to stimulate Alabama’s economy and workforce, in hopes to help support Army modernization and Alabama’s need for half a million skilled workers in the next few years. AMIIC plans to play a big role in adopting state-of-the art manufacturing technologies by facilitating application-based training to government and other industry entities. “In order to meet the evolving modernization needs of the Army, we need to equip our community and future workforce with the proper tools and resources,” said Executive Director John Schmitt. “As a trusted, unbiased partner, we’re excited to open our doors to help advance our community’s manufacturing and workforce modernization.” There are several ways AMIIC plans to accomSchmitt plish their goals of growing and advancing manufacturing technology, but it starts with their training hub, briefly mentioned above. Training is offered in live, virtual, hands-on, and hybrid formats – all of which meet the advanced manufacturing requirements of Redstone Arsenal and other industry partners.

Siemens Digital Industries Software will be the provider for Huntsville’s student, technical, and defense communities with access to its Xcelerator portfolio of engineering software. AMIIC partners will have access to powerful tools and resources, some of which “readily integrate” with existing software solutions that allow the ability to demonstrate cutting edge capability, while remaining software agnostic. “Siemens prioritizes working with organizations like AMIIC that drive workforce innovation,” said Siemens Business Development Manager Peter Llewellyn. “It’s our mission to best prepare the next generation of individuals who will propel manufacturing even further into the future.” The training hub offers more than 75 online coursework options and a couple (and growing) comprehensive, in-person, lab-executed classes. You can learn more at – Kayla Brown

CRP: MARK YOUR CALENDAR Food Truck Fest Tuesday, April 12 • 11 a.m.–1 p.m. Presented by Radiance Technologies

Get Loaded, Golden Year Ice Cream Parlor, Highway Kabobery, Maggie Moos, & Taste of Maine

Summer Sip & Stroll Saturday, June 11 • The Point @ Lake 4 Presented by Radiance Technologies Join us for food and fun for all – ‘What’s Your Favorite Brew’ passport, unique ‘competitions’ and more will make a special Saturday to celebrate CRP’s 60th.

Pop-Up Popsicle Party Tuesday, June 21 • 1:30–2:30 p.m. Presented by Northrop Grumman Corporation


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Sharp Shooting Autonomous robotic targets improving military lethality


echnology being produced and refined right here in Huntsville is earning praise from defense media, to potentially save the lives of our U.S. servicemen and women on the battlefield. It comes in the form of autonomous robotic targets, and these are already in use at many military bases around the country. According to a December 2020 article, individual lethality triples or quadruples “in just one day.” These targets aren’t static, and they don’t pop up and down in the same place. They dodge, change direction, shift, and even attack, just like a target would in battle, and you won’t know their next move. The only person who does, is using a computer program to change their direction and speed and surprise you. The mannequins on the robots can take up to 4,000 bullets before they need to be replaced. The robots themselves last much longer. These robots are made by Marathon Targets, whose North American headquarters are here in Huntsville. Representatives invited Chamber leadership to a live demonstration at a local shooting range earlier this year, and, after a safety lesson, we each fired at the robots using an AR-15. None of us experienced the same scenario, and we definitely had to think on our feet. “Marines at Camp Lejeune are using these. They have over 50 robots, so they can have a whole platoon scenario. It always comes down to close combat, to improve individual Marine and Soldier lethality,” said Ralph Petroff, Marathon Targets’ North American president. “This is much more challenging than hitting a stationary target.” There’s also a significant savings in cost and time in setting up a shooting range through ZIRM (Zero Infrastructure Range Modernization.) For Camp Lejeune, the range was built in five months and cost only $2.3 million, compared to five years and $10–12 million for a conventional range. The robots are currently in use at seven Marine bases, three Army bases, and a roving rental fleet has visited 25 military installations around the U.S. – Claire Aiello


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Re-Cycling Excitement

U.S. Paralympics Cycling returns to Huntsville April 8-10


n 2021, we had the opportunity to see some of our country’s top para-cyclists compete in Huntsville. Well, guess what? They’re returning this month – and we invite you to come out and cheer on these inspiring athletes again. The races are free and open to the public.

“As a proud partner of Team USA and U.S. Paralympics Cycling, we are excited to again extend our Toyota hospitality to the athletes and event staff who will be making the trip to the Rocket City in April,” said Jason Puckett, president of Toyota Alabama. “This event is a wonderful opportunity for the Huntsville community, and our Toyota Alabama team members are looking forward to cheering on all the athletes at the U.S. Paralympics Cycling Open.” Last year’s para-cycling event was considered a qualifying race for the Paralympic Games Tokyo 2020, and was somewhat limited due to the pandemic. This year’s event is a C1 classification, open to international athletes. We expect 150-200 athletes and their families and support teams to attend, including athletes from around the United States, neighboring countries, and possibly Europe. “We are so excited to return to Huntsville,” Ian Lawless, director of U.S. Paralympics Cycling, said. “Last April, the entire community welcomed Team USA with open arms and rallied around us as we prepared for the Paralympic

continued on page 32 The U.S. Paralympics Cycling Open, presented by Toyota, is scheduled for April 8-10. There will be three days of racing this year, with Friday featuring something new for our city – handcycle team relays. This will pit nation against nation, racing around Big Spring Park downtown. Think U.S. vs. Canada, Mexico, and more – you don’t want to miss this! Saturday will feature time trials and Sunday will feature the road races – both in Cummings Research Park (CRP). The events are rain or shine. Here’s what to expect on the three event days: • Friday, April 8: Hand-cycle Relays around Big Spring Park, downtown (6-7 p.m.) • Saturday, April 9: Time Trials in Cummings Research Park (9 a.m. to 3 p.m.) • Sunday, April 10: Road Races in Cummings Research Park (12 p.m. – 7 p.m.) Nationally, Toyota is proud to partner with U.S. Paralympics Cycling, and the company will once again present the U.S. Paralympics Cycling Open in Huntsville. We would also like to thank our local event sponsors Toyota Alabama, Raytheon Technologies, Phoenix, Aerojet Rocketdyne, and Northrop Grumman, along with the Huntsville/ Madison County Convention & Visitors Bureau and the Huntsville Sports Commission for their support. A HUNTSVILLE/MADISON COUNTY CHAMBER PUBLICATION

Paracyclists competed in Huntsville in 2021. These photos show some of the handcyclists on the course and on the awards stage. PHOTOS BY GREGG GELMIS, WE RUN HUNTSVILLE, LLC, AND CHAMBER STAFF

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Games in Tokyo. This year, we will be eyeing the 2022 World Para-cycling Road World Championships, and the U.S. Paralympics Cycling Open in Huntsville – this time with an international flair – will again be a key part of that journey.” Last year, many para athletes who competed here did indeed go on to compete in Tokyo. A few won medals for Team USA, including Oksana Masters (two golds) and Shawn Morelli (gold, silver). So many of these athletes told our staff and volunteers they had an incredible visit to the Rocket City. “We heard several times from the athletes about how friendly Huntsville was,” said Erin Koshut, executive director of Cummings Research Park. “They said we rolled out the welcome mat, they loved the weather and seeing the ‘green’ in the springtime, because many traveled from colder climates. They also loved the race route in CRP – they said it was challenging and well put together by the race planners.” Check and paracycling for updates on the races. For the races in CRP, parking is available at several businesses, and we plan to have food trucks and portable restrooms stationed in different areas. We have published a spectator guide with these details and more. Please come out and cheer on these amazing athletes! – Claire Aiello


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Athletes compete in cycling, tandem cycling, and tricycle races in Huntsville in 2021. PHOTOS BY GREGG GELMIS, WE RUN HUNTSVILLE, LLC, AND CHAMBER STAFF


Gainful Employment CharityTracker adds ‘Jobs’ tab


he Chamber Foundation, in partnership with The ELM Foundation, is pleased to announce a new job search feature available to users of the Madison County CharityTracker platform. Developed by Simon Solutions, CharityTracker is an online case management tool that brings together more than 200 social service agencies in our community and enables cross-agency assistance to citizens in need. The mission of this initiative is to assist our local companies in finding capable workers and to empower members of our community by improving their quality of life and financial stability. “In the work that we do, we definitely encounter men and women who are either unemployed or underemployed and a lot of what we do is just helping them get ready for employment,” said Debbi Akers, executive director of The Cornerstone Initiative. “We see some incredible men and women that have great skills.” For these individuals, meaningful, stable employment is one of the most critical components for ensuring long term self-sufficiency. By connecting our social service community with employers actively seeking workers, case managers are able to better connect and direct their clients who are seeking gainful employment with opportunities that align to their skills and abilities. “Corporations will be able to put jobs that will be directed at the participants that we serve, jobs … that will be good for our clients, maybe entry level jobs or jobs that train. It will be easy for our case manager to see the jobs and assist immediately the participant that they are meeting with that day,” shared Missy Hanks, executive director of The ELM Foundation. This connection also allows employers to share job opportunities with a population of individuals who otherwise may not know where to find their jobs or how to complete the application process. Especially during a tight labor market, this is valuable to employers. “Being able to connect the nonprofits with our jobs that we have available is going to be so valuable, not just to us but hopefully to the nonprofits as well,” said Bekah Schmidt, corporate communications analyst for Toyota Motor Manufacturing Alabama. Dorothy Havens has seen the need and impact of these partnerships first-hand as director of workforce development for KTECH. “Take some of those populations that are many times overlooked and you can give them a chance to change their family tree; give them a chance to be the first one that has opportunities that no one else in their family had,” shared Havens. There is no cost for a company to post positions on CharityTracker. To register and begin posting positions, visit huntsvilleal.charitytracker. net. For more information, contact Lyndsay Ferguson at lferguson@ – Lyndsay Ferguson A HUNTSVILLE/MADISON COUNTY CHAMBER PUBLICATION

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Eye on the Sky

Huntsville High’s Space Force JROTC one of 10 in the U.S.


id you know Huntsville High School’s JROTC program is affiliated with the Space Force? It is one of only 10 groups in the United States to have this affiliation. The official ceremony took place in January, but the JROTC has been with the Space Force for the entire school year. The organization is comprised of 120 students, about 60 percent male, 40 percent female, led by Lt. Col. David Murphy (Ret.), who served in the Air Force and is in his ninth year overseeing the program. “The Space Force wanted good, stable programs, some located near space activities, but also chose some because they were not near space activities,” said Murphy. “They wanted a mixture of both. Huntsville High was selected because they’re a very solid unit.” Solid, indeed. Huntsville High’s program has won the top award from the Air Force and has also been named the top Air Force unit in the state twice in the past five years. “The kids have an excellent record of achievement,” said Murphy. JROTC is a citizenship program, not a recruiting program, Murphy emphasized. The Space Force has asked the cadets to focus on STEM activities and StellarXplorers, a space system design competition for high schoolers established by the Air Force. Cadets play a large role in the program. They run all aspects, including StellarXplorers, CyberPatriot, and drill team. One cadet even leads the Public Affairs department by writing articles for the student paper, while another is in charge of personnel. The students also run a drone flying club and plan a formal ball each year. “I enjoy the mentorship ability, working with them when they come in as freshmen, seeing them grow and develop life skills and leadership skills if they stay with the program for all four years,” said Murphy. Community service is also a big part of JROTC. This year, cadets will perform around 1,500 hours, including color guard work, working at Special Olympics, supporting Panoply, and laying wreaths for veterans who are buried at Maple Hill and Valhalla cemeteries.

Space Force JROTC cadets at Huntsville High School during the official transition ceremony in January, and saluting graves of veterans at Valhalla Memory Gardens. Photos provided by Lt. Col. David Murphy (Ret.)

– Claire Aiello


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Rocket City Boost

Ramping up military recruiting efforts with Hiring Our Heroes


s we strike up the charge to share word about employment opportunities for veterans, one of our recruiting powerhouses hit the road recently. John Olshefski visited Fort Campbell on March 3 to talk about the Rocket City with about 200 transitioning service members. The event in Fort Campbell was a Career Summit held by Hiring Our Heroes, an initiative of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation. This is part of our work to establish relationships with transition offices and military installations to share information about the opportunities in our region. Olshefski shared his transition experience, talking about what that means for soldiers and their families and why it’s important to consider community. Olshefski transferred to Huntsville during his service with the U.S. Army, and served as Garrison Commander of Redstone Arsenal before retiring from active duty. “This was a super event – this is our country seeing a need to help these young men and women find jobs, and then helping them with practical ways to get hired,” said Olshefski. “They learned resumé building tips, they learned about the importance of using LinkedIn, how to dress for an interview, and other things. I was really impressed with the quality of this career fair, and I encourage companies to support this effort.” Olshefski shared materials with soldiers and encouraged them to


check for information about living and working in the Huntsville area. Through our partnership with Hiring Our Heroes, the Chamber will attend additional in-person and virtual veteran hiring events throughout the year. There will also be opportunities for partnering companies to participate. Olshefski is a loaned executive to the Chamber from Huntsville Utilities, who will be supporting our veteran talent initiatives. You can contact him at – Claire Aiello

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Truly Overwhelmed

Southern Reclaimed Salvage Barn: Local “Creative” of the Year


laiming the top spot in the Local “Creative” of the Year category at the Chamber’s 2021 Small Business Awards Celebration was Southern Reclaimed Salvage Barn. The artisans at Southern Reclaimed Salvage Barn work very hard each year to bring highly detailed wood work to the north Alabama community. Their talented team creates custom wood pieces such as furniture, doors, mantels, and also personalized awards like the one they were given at our Small Business Awards (SBA). “It is always an honor to be involved in such important projects for

our community and taking actual part in this year’s SBA festivities was truly a treat for Southern Reclaimed Salvage Barn’s team,” said owner Amy Falter. “We had to temper our excitement for the Chamber’s SBA for Creative of the Year, because we are the very team that created those custom awards for the banquet.” Falter said as a small business owner, community recognition like winning an SBA is very motivational to her team. After just five years in business, she was pleasantly surprised to hear how much support she had from other local companies and friends at the event. “When our name was announced, toward the end of the evening, the room went crazy. We had no idea we had touched so many and were overwhelmed by the applause and screams. Later we could see that our web and social media sites exploded during that time too,” she said. Now that they have secured the local creative award for the 2021 year, Southern Reclaimed Salvage Barn makes sure to keep their award on display. Since winning it, Falter said “business is popping” even though this is typically a slower time of the year for her business. The award has brought even more inspiration to her team as they look forward to many more projects in the future. – Kayla Brown

Up for the Challenge

Bold Agency named 2021 Emerging Business of the Year


old Agency won Emerging Business of the Year in 2021. The company has been in business for three years and like any other small business, it has worked through its share of ups and downs. “They’re always good challenges, though, and we always work through them as a team,” said owner Lauren Gowins (pictured). “I feel like we’re going into our strongest year yet.” Bold Agency handles a variety of communication needs for local companies. “We offer the best customized website solutions in Huntsville, hands down, and we do it in-house,” said Gowins. Their customers range from government contractors who need high security website solutions to local restaurants who are looking for content creation. “They have different, diverse needs, so we do a variety of work, which keeps the work interesting.” Bold Agency also handles branding updates, app development, and video projects, including recent work for the Huntsville Sports Commission and Toyota Alabama. Gowins says her team is phenomenal. Bold has four employees, and shares office space with The Library Of, a local videography company, adding three more people to the mix. “It’s a good culture – we bring our dogs to work, which is nice – it gives us a little breather in the middle of the day, we get so busy, especially with a small team, we’re all wearing multiple hats, so it gives us a good chance to decompress and play.” – Claire Aiello


initiatives APR 2022


Ready to Serve You

Ruchi named 2021 Culinary Business of the Year


n the food service world, winning awards for the quality of your product can be directly related to the amount of business your company sees each day. Ruchi was able to add an award to their list as they were named our Culinary Business of the Year. Known for their Indian cuisine, Ruchi is located at 3301 Memorial Parkway SW, and all of their food is 100 percent Halal. When owner Raj Yalamati found out Ruchi was considered a contender for the SBA awards, he says he was proud. The team wasn’t able to attend the awards celebration in December, so we visited the restaurant a few days later to present the award. Raj stood proudly with his wife, Anu, and their family to accept it. They are friendly and humble, and would be pleased to serve you.

When it comes to the food at Ruchi, the mixture of exotic ingredients has influence from all over India. The chefs are trained to make all the dishes from scratch so that every order is made fresh and has its own distinct taste. Since winning their award, Raj says his restaurant has seen a great impact on business. Each day is filled with more customers eager to eat some of Ruchi’s delicious recipes, and they display a sign in the window showing they won the award. Ruchi offers both dine-in and carryout options to customers, as well as catering for events. Their hours are 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., then 5 to 8 p.m., Tuesday through Sunday. They are closed on Mondays. You can check out their menu online at – Kayla Brown

100% Online | In-person | Mix



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Executive Staff | also Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Chip Cherry, CCE, president & CEO Meghan Nazario, business administration specialist

Economic Development & Workforce Lucia Cape, CCE, senior vice president Erin Koshut, executive director, Cummings Research Park Lyndsay Ferguson, vice president, workforce Ken Smith, senior director, research & information services Connor Bradford, project manager Annie Davis, director of talent initiatives

Finance & Administration Mary McNairy, vice president Joe Watson, facilities supervisor Kim Weeks, accounting specialist – receivables Jennifer Prewitt, event coordinator Stefanie Davis, resource desk coordinator

Government & Public Affairs Mike Ward, CCE, senior vice president Amberly Kimbrough, event specialist

Huntsville Regional Economic Growth Initiative (HREGI) Kristy Drake, vice president, investor relations

Investor Relations

Building Huntsville and North Alabama for 37 years

Kristy Drake, vice president, investor relations Richard Bigoney, account executive Jamie Russell, investor relations support & program specialist Crystal Baker, retention specialist

Marketing & Communications

Huntsville Plastic Surgery Huntsville, Alabama

Claire Aiello, vice president Hiroko Sedensky, web designer Kristi Sherrard, graphic designer Kayla Brown, communications & social media specialist

Small Business Ashley Engles-Ross, vice president


4900 University Square, Suite 2, Huntsville, AL 35816


initiatives APR 2022


Montgomery Trip March 8-9, 2022


e traveled to the State Capitol March 8-9 for our annual Montgomery Trip, which actually took a break from being an ‘annual event’ last year due to the pandemic. We were happy to be back, this time with 112 participants – the most to go on the trip in a very long time! The trip included an evening reception on March 8, and then a series of meetings on March 9 with (pictured above L-R) Sen. Arthur Orr, Sen. Greg Reed, Speaker Mac McCutcheon, Rep. Anthony Daniels, and Lt. Gov. Will Ainsworth. We wrapped up with lunch at the Capitol City Club with Gov. Kay Ivey before boarding the bus home. Thank you to all who attended our Montgomery Trip as well as to our Presenting Sponsor, Raytheon Technologies. We appreciate your engagement as we work to advance the Chamber’s state agenda with our elected leaders! – Claire Aiello


APR 2022 initiatives


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