Initiatives - April 2023

Page 1

APR 2023

Focused On You

When it comes to managing the challenges facing your business, it’s critical to partner with a legal team that has a sophisticated understanding of your goals. From initial contract negotiation and bid preparation to project close-out and dispute resolution, our attorneys can address the unique and complex needs of our construction clients. At Bradley, we’re focused on providing you with innovative solutions, dependable responsiveness and a deep commitment to success.

Named the nation’s “Law Firm of the Year” for Litigation - Construction by U.S. News & World Report – Best Lawyers “Best Law Firms,” 2023 edition, and “Law Firm of the Year” for Construction Law, 2022, 2020 & 2018 editions

For more information on our Construction Practice Group, visit

No representation is made that the quality of the legal services to be performed is greater than the quality of legal services performed by other lawyers. ATTORNEY ADVERTISING. Contact: Benjamin W. Hutton, Esq., 256.517.5173,, Bradley Arant Boult Cummings LLP, 200 Clinton Avenue West, Suite 900, Huntsville, AL 35801. ©2023
Let’s get you doing the things you love. Trust one of the best orthopedic and spine teams in America while you experience your care in our new Orthopedic & Spine Tower at Huntsville Hospital. Huntsville, Alabama •

new chamber members


Joined in January

Ariza Oakwood Apartments


Bio-One Huntsville

Biscuit Belly

Bobcat of Huntsville, LLC

Boot Barn

Brown Technologies Incorporated

Casino Knight

Citizens Bank & Trust

Creekstone Academy

Elements of Madison


Gardens of Hazel Green Assisted Living Hotworx

Inground Pool Design

Institute for Digital Enterprise Advancement

Knight Eady Sports Group


Las Trojas Cantina Mexican Restaurant

MAC Global Promotions, LLC

Palmer House ReTreet

Studio 127

Summit TRC

Taziki’s Mediterranean Café - Huntsville

The Lofts at Dallas Mill

The Rosé Society, Inc.

T-Mobile Hampton Cove

Tropical Smoothie Café


Veneto Partners, LLC

Veryable Inc

Womble Bond Dickinson (US) LLP

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

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

Aerospace Solutions LLC (ASL)

BrahmByrd Technologies Inc

Byars | Wright, Inc.

Capital Park at 72 West

Down Home Real Estate, LLC

Encore at MidCity Apartment Homes

EnDurrance Accounting LLC

Farm Burger Friends, Inc.

Jeff & Blues

Jessix LLC

Johnson Controls Building Automation Systems

MeritHouse Capital Management

Moon Town Aero LLC

MWB Restaurants, LLC

PVM, Inc.

Rogers & Associates, LLC

Shottenkirk Honda Huntsville

Studio 53

The Dempsey

The Enrichment Center

Towne Park Animal Care Center

Trinity Performance Solutions

USS - United Structural Systems

Waterleaf at Cold Springs

Xpect Solutions, Inc.

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:

■ 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


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

(see staff listing on page 34)

Chamber members: You are encouraged to contribute ideas for our publications. Please send items to

The Huntsville/Madison County Chamber maintains editorial control.

on the cover

Photos by Claire Aiello (Chamber) and Eben Boothby, U.S. Army Materiel Command

editorial staff

publisher Chip Cherry, CCE

editor Claire Aiello

editorial designer Kristi Sherrard

contributing writers

Kayla Brown

Donna Castellano

Mike Ward, CCE


Kristy Drake

Lakeysha Brown


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.


pages 18-22

table of contents
County, Inc. 225 Church St NW, Huntsville, AL 35801
Chamber of Commerce of Huntsville/Madison
4 NEW CHAMBER MEMBERS | BECOMING A MEMBER | GET YOUR GIFT ON 5 HREGI INVESTORS 8 MESSAGE FROM THE PRESIDENT | BOARD LISTING 14 COMMUNITY PROFILE 23 MENTAL HEALTH AWARENESS MONTH: Special Chamber events in May 24 HREGI PROFILE: SYNOVUS with Beth Sippel 26 BEST PLACES TO WORK AWARDS: Reserve your seat 28 ChamberON: Supporting the Chamber supports your community 33 MEET OUR 2023 LEADS: Chamber’s Ambassador & Emissary programs 34 CHAMBER STAFF | ASSOCIATED ORGS more for you 10 COMMUNITY HIGHLIGHTS | includes Industry Insights, WBC, and an Irish delegate! 13 REDSTONE PROFILE | Johnnie Sharp, assistant director, FBI Huntsville 15 BRICK BY BRICK | Henderson Brandon & Son: the Black-owned masonry firm that built Huntsville 17 SBA WINNER SPOTLIGHT | Avion Solutions 25 FEDERAL & STATE AGENDAS | Chamber-ready files move forward to government leadership 27 ANNUAL MEETING RECAP | Almodóvars honored with Distinguished Service Award & more 29 SBA WINNER SPOTLIGHT | Summit 7 Systems 30 MEMORIAL DAY WEEKEND PLANS | Cheer on some of the world’s most elite para-athletes 32 SBA WINNER SPOTLIGHT | Engineering & Computer Simulations (ECS) 35 INTEREST FROM DOWN UNDER | Huntsville companies seize opportunity in Australia
feature stories COVER
AMC leadership duties now on GEN Hamilton

a message from chip cherry

Dear Chamber Investors, Community Leaders, and Friends:

There are two phrases that our DoD colleagues use that translate to our business. They are the combination of the top officer and enlisted person referred to as Battle Buddies and the axiom that “no plan survives contact with the enemy.” Our volunteer Chair and I are true battle buddies, working in concert to ensure we are meeting member needs, engaging effectively with our partners, and working with the talented members of the staff and volunteer Teams to look over the horizon for both opportunities and threats. We work together to adjust our strategy as needed to address the barriers encountered while implementing our plans.

I greatly appreciate our 2022 Chair, Greg Brown. Greg’s leadership and insight have helped the Chamber evolve into a more effective organization. Our 2023 Chair Lynn Troy is building on Greg’s foundation -- she is making us better, and I look forward to working with her this year. When I interned with the Rocky Mount NC Chamber in college, I was impressed with the talent, insights, and commitment the volunteer leadership brought to the organization. In fact, that is what hooked me on this profession. I remain in awe of how powerful the combination of a strong volunteer leadership and staff Team can be in helping move a community forward. Thank you, Greg and Lynn, for empowering our work!

Congratulations to Rey and Cynthia Almodóvar on receiving the Distinguished Service Award at our Annual Membership Meeting in February. Thank you for all you have done to make our community and the region better!

Our cover story focuses on celebrating the leadership of General Ed Daly as the senior commander of Army Materiel Command (AMC) and welcoming General Charles Hamilton as his successor. AMC is comprised of thousands of women and men, a blend of Soldiers, civil servants, and contractors who ensure our men and women in uniform have what they need, when they need it. In addition to their traditional mission, AMC is supporting the people of Ukraine as they fight to defend their homeland. We celebrate the career of GEN Daly and welcome GEN Hamilton. We thank both of you and the thousands you represent for the roles you play in supporting our warfighters throughout the world!

Lastly, we need your help to make the UCI Para-Cycling Road World Cup a success. We anticipate 350+ athletes from over 30 countries will converge on Huntsville over Memorial Day Weekend for the first time for this international competition on U.S. soil. There are opportunities for you, your company, coworkers, and family to volunteer and/or cheer during the four-day event May 26-29. These are elite athletes, and this will be a very fun event! To learn more, visit or call 256-535-2000.

I look forward to seeing you at a Chamber event soon!


Executive Committee & Board of Directors 2023

Executive Committee

Lynn Troy, Board Chair – Troy7, Inc.

Sameer Singhal, Chair-Elect – CFD Research Corporation

Greg Brown, Immediate Past Chair – Brown Precision, Inc.

Ron Poteat, Board Chair, Chamber Foundation

Wayne Sisco, Secretary/Treasurer – Redstone Federal Credit Union

Jeff Samz, Vice Chair, Economic Development & Workforce –Huntsville Hospital

Michelle Jordan, Vice Chair, Economic Inclusion & Diversity – TARCOG

Ronnie Chronister, Vice Chair, Government & Public Affairs –Lockheed Martin Corporation

Beth Sippel, Vice Chair, HREGI – Synovus

Blake Bentley, Vice Chair, Investor Relations – SportsMED

Jason Puckett, Vice Chair, Marketing & Communications – Toyota Alabama

Dr. Karockas Watkins, Vice Chair, Small Business – Ability Plus, Inc.

Jeff Gronberg, Liaison, Redstone Regional Alliance – deciBel Research, Inc.

Brett Crain, Chair-Appointed – Huntsville Tractor & Equipment, Inc.

Jami Peyton, Chair-Appointed – Canvas, Inc.

John Watson, Chair-Appointed – Torch Technologies

Mayor Tommy Battle, Ex-officio Member – City of Huntsville

Mayor Paul Finley, Ex-officio Member – City of Madison

Chrm. Mac McCutcheon, 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

Mark Brazeal, Mazda Toyota Manufacturing (MTM)

Thomas Busby, SouthState Bank

Katie Comer, Meta Platforms, Inc.

Michael Cox, Raytheon Technologies

Dr. Patti Dare, Davidson

Melissa Davis, MTA, Inc.

Tyler Evans, Aerojet Rocketdyne

Kevin Fernandez, L2 Mindset

Greg Fortier, SAIC

Owen Franklin, Blue Summit Supplies

Dr. Greg Gaddy, Five Stones Research Corporation

Greg Hall, Corporate Office Properties Trust (COPT)

Scott Hall, Teledyne Brown Engineering, Inc.

Ginger Harper, First Horizon

Josh Herren, Yulista

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

Sean Kelly, Regions Bank

Tim King, Modern Technology Solutions, Inc. (MTSI)

Clint Kirkland, Progress Bank

Rich Kretzschmar, Integration Innovation, Inc. (i3)

James Lackey, Parsons

Todd May, KBR

Bob McCaleb, Northrop Grumman Corporation

Chrystal Morgan, The Boeing Company

Collin Orcutt, Schoel Engineering Company, Inc.

Alana Parker, Rocket City Drywall & Supply, Inc.

Zack Penney, Bill Penney Toyota/Mitsubishi

Sharné Rice, U.S. Army

Alicia Ryan, LSINC Corporation

Charlie Sealy, Sealy Management Company, 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


community highlights

Industry Insights

Each semester, the Huntsville/Madison County Chamber and ASmartPlace invite 20 to 30 local educators to take part in Industry Insights Day. The day consists of two informative tours from area companies in various industries such as advanced manufacturing, distribution, and more. The intent of the tours is to educate our teachers and counselors about the numerous workforce opportunities that await their graduating students.

Many of the job opportunities in these various industries cater to all types of students. In February, our workforce team organized tours at Buffalo Rock and the Target Distribution Center. Educators learned about the hiring process for each company, as well as the salary and benefits each offer. Both companies introduced current employees and allowed educators to ask their questions. Educators learned about the culture of the companies, as well as challenges presented to employees.

At Buffalo Rock, there are opportunities to work as a Merchandiser, Technician, Warehouse Picker, Driver, and more. In fact, there are certain trucks that do not require a CDL license to operate. It’s a similar story at the Target Distribution Center, located off of Greenbrier Parkway. As a large-scale distributor, Target employees in Huntsville serve the majority of the Southeast region of the United States. Most of the requirements for positions include a high school diploma or equivalent, ability to obtain a valid driver’s license, basic digital knowledge, and safety awareness.

Opportunities through these two employers are currently available and can be found on the “Job Search” tab. You can search for either company in the search bar to find all opportunities available in the Rocket City.

Sharing ideas about child care

Meeting with Irish delegate

Some of our Chamber board members and staff recently met with Máirtín Ó Muilleoir of Ireland! He visited the Rocket City last month to serve as the Grand Marshal of Huntsville’s St. Patrick’s Day Parade on March 11. We hosted a gathering for him at Baker and Able, atop the 106 Jefferson Hotel.

Ó Muilleoir has visited Alabama before, including Huntsville, Birmingham, and Selma, and publishes four newspapers including the Irish Echo, a national newspaper in the United States for Irish Americans. He lives in Belfast and was an elected leader during the conflicts in Northern Ireland, and later became Lord Mayor of Belfast.

Ó Muilleoir was very interested in our local government structure, and said he enjoyed meeting so many people who worked for NASA. We also talked with him about the upcoming Para-cycling Road World Cup May 26-29, because Ireland is sending a team!

We know many of your employees struggle with finding reliable and affordable child care. We are not alone – this is a big concern around the nation. On February 28 and March 1, we hosted representatives from various Chambers and Child Care Administrators in Huntsville for group discussions of what is working and what we can improve upon. The Alabama Department of Human Resources joined us and shared some of their findings from a pilot project to get more home providers to come online in targeted regions across the state. We continue to explore solutions and will share updates soon.

HMCBA serves as OSHA training site

The Huntsville Madison County Builders Association recently became a host site with the OSHA Training Institute Education Center (OTIEC) at Volunteer State Community College (VSCC).

You can take a number of classes at the HMCBA office on Bob Wallace Avenue. View the upcoming schedule on

continued on page 12

continued from page 10

The Huntsville-Madison County Public Library (HMCPL) would like to invite everyone to visit their local HMCPL branch and experience all they have to offer. Whether you are a long-time patron

On February 20, we hosted four Huntsville-area business owners to share their stories of success as we kicked off 2023 Innovate Huntsville Week. Speakers for the Entrepreneurs & Innovators Panel included Jonathan Hambrick, owner of MyKitchen; Takara Swoopes Bullock, founder and CEO of Huntsville Magazine; Stanley McCaulley, owner of B&H Bubbles; and Kayla Joseph, founder of LAID

ferent departments during their time with us. They attended planning meetings related to the Para-Cycling Road World Cup, and we also talked with them about how we put Initiatives magazine together!

Victoria and Liam, we enjoyed having you here and believe your futures are bright indeed!


Redstone Profile:

Q&A with Johnnie Sharp, Assistant Director, FBI Huntsville

Q: Tell me about your role with the FBI. Please include some information about your background and how you came to Huntsville.

Before joining the FBI’s IT Infrastructure Division (ITID), I served five years as Special Agent in Charge (SAC) of the Birmingham Field Office. Before that, I was a Section Chief in the Operational Technical Division (OTD) – overseeing technical evidence and intelligence collection and court authorized computer network operations and exploitation.

Despite its name, OTD isn’t ‘operational’ in the traditional sense – like the Criminal Investigative Division or Counterterrorism Division – but it does directly support our operations and investigations. My section was the largest, and there wasn’t a major case we weren’t somehow involved with.

When I speak to folks about my FBI journey, I always highlight OTD and ask, ‘Are you familiar with Q Branch from the James Bond movies?’ Of course, most people nod their head. And I say, ‘Well, I was a part of Q Branch for the FBI, working in OTD.’

So, I had that foundation when I was presented the opportunity to serve as ITID’s Assistant Director (AD) here in Huntsville. The chance to not only lead the great ITID workforce, but also be the senior executive representing the Director and FBI here on Redstone Arsenal, was just too good to pass up.

Q: What surprised you about the Rocket City?

During my five years as the Birmingham SAC, I was in Huntsville very frequently, so I already had great familiarity with the community and FBI Redstone. When I talked to some early adopters of the FBI’s move to Huntsville, not a single person regretted making that change. In fact, many said they wish they had done it sooner.

Overall, I think the pace and the quality of life here is much better. Huntsville is a high-tech city. I believe we’ve got the highest concentration of PhDs in the country. We’ve got over 400 defense contractors – the second highest concentration outside the National Capital Region – as well as NASA and the Missile Defense Agency. So, there’s a very rich job environment and a plethora of great opportunities here for folks and their families.

Q: The FBI’s campus on Redstone has gone up quickly. What can you tell us about where things stand at the moment?

The campus is just undeniably beautiful. There’s no other three-letter agency that I’m aware of that’s getting anything like it, nor are they getting any type of funding like we’re getting to build out the North and South campuses. It’s setting our organization up for success for decades to come, and I think it’s going to be a point of pride for all Bureau employees and Huntsville/Madison residents that we have such a phenomenal resource in Huntsville.

What’s important to stress is we’re not just throwing up buildings for the sake of throwing up buildings. There’s a very strategic purpose behind all of it. First and foremost, we are strategically realigning our resources, identifying functions that don’t have to be in the National Capital Region, and creating some strategic redundancy here in Huntsville so we don’t have everything so concentrated in D.C. I’ll joke here — if we have a zombie apocalypse in D.C. and it’s taken offline, at least we’ve got some redundancy in Huntsville with, essentially, our unofficial second headquarters.

Second, FBI Director Wray wants Redstone to be a center of excellence for countering Improvised Explosive Devices (IED). We’ve had the Hazardous Devices School here since 1971, and the Terrorist Explosive Device Analytic Center (TEDAC), since 2014. Both are key resources for the FBI and our intelligence community partners, and we want Redstone to be a world-class facility for the field.

Finally, the Director wants FBI Redstone to be a technological and cyber center of excellence. Right across the street from my office, we’re building a “Kinetic Cyber Range”, a 22,000-square-foot, high-tech training facility. Resembling a small town, the range gives instructors control over environmental factors like lighting and traffic control systems, so trainees can run through a variety of scenarios. This facility – and the simple fact of having the AD of ITID physically located in Huntsville – speaks to the Director’s vision.

Q: What are some of the biggest challenges you face in your role?

The ITID AD job in and of itself is a big job and a huge responsibility. You have 388 full-time employees and almost 1,000 contractors. By any standard within FBI Headquarters, ITID is a behemoth. When you add the fact that I am the face of the FBI at Redstone and the Director’s senior executive here, the demands on my time — it’s a lot. But I relish that challenge and think it’s an awesome responsibility.

Speaking solely to ITID, it’s a double-edged sword. The division provides critically important services to our organization, but it comes with a lot of stress. When a network goes down, everybody’s barking at you. And while our technological capabilities have come a long way, we’ve still got a long way to go, and it’s not entirely the fault of ITID or the other technological components within the FBI. Our contracting process and the Federal Acquisition Regulations don’t necessarily lend themselves to agility, so sometimes that very slow contracting process leads to delays in getting the cutting-edge technology that we need for the organization, but we’ve been able to overcome some of those hurdles.

What I’ve seen here is a very passionate workforce comprised of a lot of folks who could, frankly, make a lot more money in the private sector. But they choose to work for the FBI because of our mission and their belief in truly protecting the American people and upholding the Constitution.

Q: The FBI is actively hiring for jobs in Huntsville.

What do you want the community to know about working for the FBI?

The FBI has had a presence at Redstone Arsenal in Huntsville, Ala., for more than 50 years. Today, over 1,700 employees work here in various operational and enterprise capacities – within the next several years, the FBI will be hiring many more. Once all our construction projects are complete, we anticipate having almost 4,000 personnel working on Redstone with a training capacity of nearly 1,000 more. As a taxpayer, I appreciate that those employees will either be living here or staying in our hotels and eating in our restaurants which provides a great economic impact for north Alabama.

In the next several years, we will continue to add to our professional workforce, providing newly hired FBI personnel the opportunity to work with cutting edge technology, research, and development supporting the mission and functions of the FBI. In addition to the work culture, we believe in the importance of a healthy work/life balance and encourage our employees to get involved in their communities or pursue external interests. To that point, the FBI at Redstone Arsenal is hiring. If you’re interested in positions with the FBI, you can explore opportunities at redstone-arsenal or email resumes directly to

The FBI Redstone’s state-of-the art facilities present new opportunities to build our capabilities, create new partnerships, further our mission, and support our vision of becoming the FBI’s innovation and technology center of excellence.

Q: In terms of applying for a job with the FBI here, please describe the process. It largely depends on the job being applied for. For Special Agents, applicants must go through a rigorous, multiphase process including a Physical Fitness Test (PFT), two tests, and multiple interviews. Intelligence Analysts also have a multiphase application process, consisting of two tests and an interview. Both groups, if selected, must undergo the Basic Field Training Course (BFTC) at the FBI Academy in Quantico, VA.

For our professional support staff – which includes anything from Electronics Technicians (ETs) to Public Affairs Specialists – the application process is more typical, with candidates submitting their resumés and cover letters and receiving an interview if they fit our qualifications.

Regardless of position, selected candidates must go through a background check process that can take at least six months. You can find all this information at our website,

Q: Anything else you’d like to share?

I am extremely honored and humbled to serve in this role. I am also very excited for the Bureau and the future of the organization with what’s being built on Redstone Arsenal. The community, both on the arsenal and out in the public, have been extremely welcoming and have made my transition, along with my colleagues, a pleasant one. ■


community profile


Aerospace & Defense

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.

Research & Technology

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.

For more information, visit:

Sources: U.S. Census Bureau (, American Community Survey Estimates As of March 2023 Madison City of City of Huntsville POPULATION County Huntsville Madison Metro Area 2010 Census 334,811 180,105 42,938 417,593 2021 Census 395,211 216,963 58,357 502,728 % Growth 18.0% 20.5% 35.9% 20.4% HOUSEHOLDS & INCOME # of Households 164,493 96,551 20,111 205,178 Avg. Household Income $105,994 $95,849 $115,658 $103,388 Per Capita Income $43,656 $42,232 $46,335 $41,897 Top 15 Employers: Huntsville & Madison County U.S. Army/Redstone Arsenal* 38,000 * Huntsville Hospital System 10,160 NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center* 6,000 Mazda Toyota Manufacturing (MTM) 3,500 The Boeing Company ................................... 3,048 Huntsville City Schools 3,000 Dynetics, Inc. 2,946 SAIC 2,746 Madison County Schools 2,389 Northrop Grumman Corporation 2,266 City of Huntsville 2,206 University of Alabama in Huntsville ........................ 1,979 Polaris Industries 1,932 Toyota Alabama 1,800 Lockheed Martin Corporation 1,685 Source: Huntsville/Madison County Chamber *includes on-site contractors

Brick by Brick

Henderson Brandon & Son: the Black-owned masonry firm that built Huntsville

The end of the Civil War set up a boom period for the American economy, unleashing an Industrial Revolution where smokestacks, manufacturing plants, railroads, and cities transformed the American landscape. These developments accompanied another equally revolutionary change. Four million people who had once been enslaved were now American citizens. The paths taken by these individuals from slavery to freedom are largely unknown, our understanding of their journey hampered by the scarcity of materials that connect the dots of their lives.

The Historic Huntsville Foundation’s (HHF) free history exhibition “Brick by Brick: The Legacy of Henderson and Daniel Brandon” in Harrison Brothers Hardware shares one Huntsville family’s path from enslavement to entrepreneurship, tracing their history as they established Huntsville’s most successful Black-owned business in the decades following Reconstruction. Henderson Brandon & Sons built some of Huntsville’s most icon ic buildings and constructed the infrastructure for a modernizing town. “Brick by Brick” is the first exhibition showcasing the Brandons’ work. Our research on Ellen Brandon, one of the six Black suffragists recognized with a historic marker in 2021, led us to Henderson and Daniel Brandon. Daniel was Ellen’s husband; Hender son was her father-in-law. By piecing together newspaper articles, public documents, and scant primary source materials, we discovered how the Brandon family survived the Jim Crow era by building a business that provided eco nomic independence for themselves and other Black families.

Henderson Brandon was enslaved by members of the wealthy Brandon family, who are credited with constructing many of Huntsville’s ear ly buildings. At the time of his death in 1848, William Brandon owned over 120 enslaved workers. Brandon’s last will and testament included a property inventory that lists the names, ages, and values of his enslaved workers. One

of the enslaved workers listed is Henderson, who is 13 years old and valued at $550. William Brandon bequeaths Henderson to his brother, Thomas. From Henderson Brandon’s 1901 obituary, we learn that Henderson purchased his freedom using his skills as a brick mason. Henderson Brandon quickly capitalized on his masonry skills following the end of the Civil War. Brandon and James W. Hutchens –a prominent white businessman, Huntsville city alderman, and a staunch member of the Republican party – formed a masonry business. Although Brandon and Hutchens dissolved the partnership in 1873, the families remained connected. William Hutchens, the son of James Hutchens, witnessed Henderson Brandon’s last will and testament. After the end of the Brandon-Hutchens partnership, Brandon’s entrepreneurship continued. He acquired a steam mill and began advertising that he could grind corn and wheat. An 1880 ad in the states that Brandon had a supply of the “best quality bricks” at his brickyard on Pulaski Road near Pinhook Creek. Brandon’s property was near the current intersection of Holmes Avenue and Pulaski Pike. He owned multiple parcels of land on Pulaski Road, where he had a house, a store,

Newspapers report that Daniel Brandon joined his father’s business in the 1880s to help his ailing father. Henderson Brandon & Son quickly established a reputation for enterprise, efficiency, and skill. It is likely Daniel’s youth, education, and ambition opened new opportunities for the family business, whose projects transformed the city’s skyline and laid the foundation for a modernizing Huntsville.

While Huntsville and Madison County have invested public and private funds to identify and document our historic buildings and structures, we have scant information about the craftsmen who constructed our historic buildings. Combing through newspaper articles, principally the Huntsville Gazette Journal, two newspapers owned by Black publishers, HHF identified 11 structures built by Henderson Brandon & Son or by Daniel Brandon after his father’s

continued on page 16

Daniel S. Brandon

continued from page 15 –

death in 1901. Three of the Brandon buildings are still standing.

The Brandons completed the Baker & Helm Building at 101 Washington Street in 1887. The brick exterior of 101 Washington has been extensively remodeled, but the interior brick walls are original to the Brandons.

Following an extensive fire on southside square, Robert Harrison hired Daniel Brandon to rebuild and expand the Harrison Brothers building at 124 Southside Square. HHF purchased this building in 1984. We were unaware of the building’s connection to Daniel Brandon until we were notified in 2022 by Ms. Ollye Conley, a noted expert of Huntsville history. The Harrison Brothers Building is the best-preserved example of Daniel Brandon’s work.

The last known building constructed by Daniel Brandon is the Humphrey Bros. Building at 112 Main Street in Madison. William Binford Humphrey and James Humphrey commissioned Brandon to construct the building for their venture, W. B. Humphrey & Brother. Before the building’s completion in 1919, Brandon placed a date stone on the building’s exterior, which forever identifies the building as “Humphrey Bros.” Immediately below is the inscription, “Built by D. S. Brandon.”

Along with commercial structures, the Brandons provided the masonry for Huntsville’s early public works projects. Their success at winning public contracts through a competitive bid system undermined the precepts of white supremacy. Henderson Brandon & Son provided over 500,000 bricks for the city’s first sewer system, constructed a smokestack for the city’s water system, and built the Huntsville Coal and Ice Factory.

Brandon buildings lost to history include the c. 1899 U.S. Courthouse and Post Office that once stood on Greene Street, the c. 1891 Dallas Textile Mill on Oakwood Drive which burned in 1991, and the c. 1909 Church Street Cumberland Presbyterian Church, which was recently demolished.

After the 1919 Humphrey Brothers commission, it becomes harder to identify projects undertaken by Daniel Brandon. It could be that changes in brick making techniques made it harder for Daniel to compete with larger, more efficient brick manufacturers. It is possible white business owners favored white contractors. It is also likely Brandon’s success continued, but his projects were not reported in newspapers.

Our “Rooted in History” exhibition not only shares history, but we are connecting people through history. Brandon descendants have contacted us seeking to confirm their connection to Henderson or Daniel, inquiries that we welcome. Descendants of William and Thomas Brandon, Henderson’s enslavers, have also reached out to us. They provided us with copies of William Brandon’s 1848 will, which includes the property inventory with the names, ages, and values of those enslaved. This document helped us connect Henderson Brandon to his enslaver. The property inventory also lists the names of over 120 enslaved people, all of whom may have descendants looking for their ancestors. The will’s donor stated their goal was to make information available that would help descendants of the enslaved find their ancestors.

For the Historic Huntsville Foundation, a nonprofit historic preservation organization, the Brandon exhibition is a homecoming of sorts. Daniel Brandon is back in the building he constructed, his portrait occupying a place of prominence in the store. His beaming smile welcomes guests, bidding them to learn a Huntsville history lesson never taught to them in school.

– Donna Castellano Executive Director, The Historic Huntsville Foundation 124 Southside Square – Harrison Brothers Hardware (Huntsville) CREDIT: JIM TEED 112 Main Street – Humphrey Bros. Building (Madison) CREDIT: JIM TEED 101 Washington Street (downtown Huntsville) CREDIT: JIM TEED

Government Contracting –Technology Business of the Year winner Avion Solutions

Finding success as a company in Huntsville doesn’t necessarily come easy. However, for our Government Contracting – Technology Business of the Year winner, Avion Solutions, the hard work paid off in the end. Avion Solutions is an industry leader in aerospace engineering, integrated project support, manufacturing/maintenance engineering, and model-based systems engineering. But when you ask them about their vision, it includes outperforming the competition and improving the community.

More than 50 percent of Avion’s employees have chosen to participate in Avion Takes Action, which commits over $70,000 annually to the Community Foundation of Greater Huntsville. In the last 18 months, that fund awarded over $125,000 to local nonprofit organizations. President/CEO Evan Wagner and VP & Chief Growth Officer Brian Wylie have helped continue the philanthropy through their Corporate Giving Board, Huntsville Heart Walk, Foster Children’s Alliance of Madison County, Toys for Tots, and more.

“Avion is constantly implementing new strategies to motivate and engage our employee workforce,” said Wagner.

“We motivate our employee-owners by fostering a family atmosphere that allows them to grow personally, professionally, and financially.”

Part of their incentive program at Avion includes season tickets to the Rocket City Trash Pandas, Huntsville Havoc, and the Huntsville Symphony Orchestra. These unique offerings have helped maintain a 97 percent retention rate for the company.

“Avion employees have a well-rounded work-life balance and high level of satisfaction while doing great work to support the Warfighter,” Wagner added.

After winning their Small Business Award, Avion was quick to credit the community and advise other small businesses to get involved.

“The application process offers the opportunity for introspection and internal discussion regarding areas where the company excels and perhaps areas where there is opportunity for improvement,” said Wylie. “As the saying goes, ‘Iron sharpens iron,’ and as the Small Business Awards recognize the best local small businesses, it also provides a model for other small businesses, inspiring them to excel.”

AMC leadership duties transfer from GEN Daly to GEN Hamilton

People First. Winning Matters. Army Strong.

It’s a phrase you hear often among military leadership and locally at Army Materiel Command. The four-star AMC includes a workforce of roughly 165,000 people, from military to civilians and contractors, and they take pride in this phrase, and rightly so.

AMC is headquartered at Redstone Arsenal, and the mission is to develop and deliver materiel readiness solutions for a globally dominant land force.

continued on page 20


In short, running it is a big job. General Ed Daly will tell you right away it takes a team, and he has led it with a people-first mentality for just shy of three years. He assumed command on July 2, 2020, and on March 16, 2023, AMC held a Change of Command ceremony to transfer leadership duties to General Charles Hamilton, who was minted as a four star that very morning.

The ceremony was held on the AMC Parade Field and included music by the 313th Army Band, presentation of the colors, a display of the 10 command flags under AMC’s banner, a booming 21-cannon salute, and the Star-Spangled Banner performed by Megan White. The Army also presented flowers to wives and other family members of both GEN Daly and GEN Hamilton.

Several of the Army’s top brass attended, including the Honorable Christine Wormuth, Secretary of the Army, and General James C. McConville, Army Chief of Staff. GEN McConville spoke at the ceremony and offered strong compliments for all who keep the command running –saying their work saves lives.

“Winning matters in our profession,” said GEN McConville. “We don’t go to battle to participate – we don’t go to try hard -- we go to win. There’s no second place in combat.”

“We could not be successful without logistics and all that happens at AMC,” he continued. “What you do every day for the quality of life for our soldiers and their families – housing, child care, and many other areas – we recruit soldiers, but we retain families. Our soldiers are ready to deploy, ready to fight, and ready to win because of you.”

GEN Daly’s Tenure

GEN Daly has had a lot on his plate while at the helm of AMC. He came on during the start of the COVID pandemic, when his predecessor, General Gus Perna departed for a special assignment directing the Department of Defense’s role in Operation Warp Speed, lending personnel and expertise to fight the pandemic.

Daly immediately got to work on other duties, including supporting the United States’ withdrawal from Afghanistan and providing essential support to Operation Allies Welcome, which helped thousands of vulnerable Afghans and their families through the resettlement process. Recently his duties have also included supporting the war in Ukraine with AMC having a hand in every piece of equipment, and every decision made to protect the country’s partners and allies.

Many retired generals who previously led AMC attended the change of command ceremony to offer their congratulations and support. GEN Daly made a special point to thank them during his remarks.

“I’m honored to be a Soldier in the greatest Army this world has ever

continued on page 22

continued from page 19 –

seen,” said GEN Daly. “I say often that we’re standing on the shoulders of giants – thank you to all the retired generals who are here today. Each of you has had an impact not just on me personally, but thousands and thousands of others.”

GEN Daly thanked many other groups in attendance, including community leaders such as local mayors and industry partners. “Thank you for your support and understanding that your legacy is about how you support the Army and the joint force.”

During his tenure at AMC, GEN Daly has also spearheaded the Organic Industrial Base Modernization Implementation Plan, which will modernize facilities, processes and the workforce across the 23 depots, arsenals and ammunition plants that manufacture and reset equipment, generating readiness and operational capability throughout Army formations. The Army OIB is comprised mostly of facilities that were built during World War II.

He has also worked to improve quality of life for Army Families and worked to recruit the best and brightest to serve with AMC.

GEN Daly will return to West Point for a retirement ceremony later this year. His military career began there – he was commissioned as a second lieutenant in the Ordnance Corps upon his graduation from the United States Military Academy in 1987.

Some of his colleagues from the Class of 1987 were in the audience. “Several of them have joked the Army must have a sense of humor if they keep promoting me,” Daly said. “To my classmates I say, Go Army!” They promptly replied, “Beat Navy!”

GEN Hamilton & What’s Next

It’s rare that you meet a four-star general who took the enlisted route -- most start their careers through military academies or ROTC. However, GEN Hamilton took that very path, enlisting at a recruiting office in his hometown of Houston, Texas. In 1988, he graduated from Officer Candidate School as the Distinguished Military Graduate and was commissioned as a second lieutenant in the Quartermaster Corps.

GEN Hamilton’s military career has brought him to the Tennessee Valley before. He previously served as AMC’s deputy chief of staff for logistics and operations, G-3, where he was responsible for maintaining readiness – getting Soldiers the equipment they need, where they need it – while simultaneously supporting modernization and reform efforts across multiple areas. These challenges were intensified as he assumed the responsibility three months into the global pandemic.

“Despite the pandemic, AMC was able to support an Army in motion and the team didn’t miss a beat,” he said. “They pulled it off, and it was just impressive.”

Following his assignment at AMC, GEN Hamilton served as the Army’s Deputy Chief of Staff Logistics, G-4.

During his remarks, GEN McConville recalled serving with GEN Hamilton in combat in Afghanistan. “AMC is in great hands and will continue to exceed expectations because of your outstanding leadership,” McConville said.

GEN Hamilton complimented his predecessor during his remarks. “There is no better warfighter than Ed Daly. He is a great leader and will be a tough act to follow.”

“To the AMC team, service is both an honor and a privilege. I’m honored and privileged to join this outstanding team once again to serve as your commander,” said GEN Hamilton. “This is a change of command, and not a change of direction.”

He also noted the work of past AMC leaders, including Retired Generals Ann Dunwoody, Dennis Via, Gus Perna, and also GEN Daly.

“So now, our charter is clear, to build upon these accomplishments and with your help, to ensure that Army Materiel Command continues to deliver precision sustainment and materiel readiness from the joint strategic support area to the tactical point of contact across the spectrum conflict now and into the future.”

continued from page 20 –PHOTOS COURTESY OF AMC

Special Chamber Events Supporting

Mental Health Awareness Month


Tuesday May 2, 2023 | 9–10:30 AM | Chamber Auditorium

Guest Speaker: Rachel Sullivan, Solid Ground Counseling Center



Thursday May 11, 2023 | 12–1 PM | Microsoft Teams

Guest Speaker: Michelle Nash, PZI Consulting


Tuesday May 23, 2023 | 12–1 PM | Microsoft Teams

Guest Speaker: Tom Fandre, Club Mindful Huntsville

apr 2023 initiatives 23 A HUNTSVILLE/MADISON COUNTY CHAMBER PUBLICATION • Blood pressure screening: $100/hour • Virtual or in-person educational wellness class for unlimited number of participants: $100/hour • Tabletop demonstration on health topic (ex: Fat, Salt, Meal planning): $100/hour • (256) 265-0068 WELLNESS ON A BUDGET LOW COST, HIGH IMPACT

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Wherever your potential awaits, move towards it with a bank you trust.


Tell us about yourself and your role with Synovus.

I’m a lifelong banker and currently the Huntsville market president for Synovus Bank. I’ve been with Synovus for nearly 19 years. I spend my days collaborating with our talented team to help our clients achieve their financial goals and reach their full potential. Our family relocated to this community 20 years ago, and it’s truly our home. So here’s a fun fact about me: Four generations of our family now live in Madison County, ranging in age from 2 to 89!

What have you gained through your partnership with HREGI?

We’ve served the Huntsville/Madison County area for nearly 40 years, and we are committed to providing an exceptional banking experience to help business owners and their companies thrive. Being an investor in HREGI helps us see how our community is growing overall, and it also gives us the ability to preview what’s coming. Through our investment, we also have the opportunity to meet companies who are new to the Huntsville area and offer support to them as they grow.

Lessons learned from volunteering with the Chamber?

I’ve been volunteering with the Chamber for nearly two decades. I’m currently serving on the executive committee as the vice chair of HREGI. I’ve had the pleasure of working alongside so many staff and volunteer leaders over the years and have learned valuable leadership lessons from so many. I’ve always had a win-win mentality, and volunteering with the Chamber allows me to experience and learn from that type of collaboration every day.

What is your advice to members who might be considering investing in HREGI?

I’m incredibly proud of our HREGI investment and the impact that commitment has had on our community. Investing in HREGI advances the future growth of Huntsville/Madison County. If you’re considering investing in HREGI, talk to other investors and me about the benefits, such as sharing your input about critical business issues facing our region and strategic networking opportunities.

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2023 Federal & State Agendas

Chamber-ready files move forward to government leadership

The Chamber’s 2023 State and Federal agendas were approved by the Chamber Board of Directors at our February meeting, marking the end of a months-long drafting process. Each of these documents provides our elected leaders with a prioritized list of the most critical issues facing the local business community.

The process of drafting the agendas is led by the State and National Government committee chairs. The State Government Committee is chaired by Chrystal Morgan of The Boeing Company, and it is cochaired by Tracy Doughty, president of the Huntsville Hospital System. The National Government Committee is chaired by David Cook of Torch Technologies and co-chaired by James Lackey of Parsons. Lynn Troy, our 2023 Chamber Board Chair, selected the committee chairs last September in order to maintain continuity throughout the agenda drafting process.

The process starts with a review of the previous year’s agenda. Issues that we successfully addressed in the previous legislative session, or that are no longer relevant, are removed, and new issues are added as needed. Once the key issues have been identified, issue leaders are recruited to assemble a team of subject matter experts to help prepare the agenda input. Inputs are then reviewed by the respective committees and prioritized.

The Chamber’s Federal Agenda is divided into three parts: the cover letter/preamble, which we use as our “elevator speech” to hit the most critical and pressing issues; the Agenda – which covers the top nine issues; and the Issues Book, which is a resource for the Congressional delegation staff to explain the relevance and impact of most of the programs on Redstone. Each input has three sections: National Impact, Community Impact, and the Requested Action(s).

With Redstone accounting for over half of the local economy and roughly 10 percent of the State’s GDP, a lot of the cover letter is focused on those critical issues. Cover letter issues include U.S. Space Command; timely passage of appropriations; full funding for the Department of Justice, space exploration programs, defense department programs, and Army modernization; supporting Congressionally directed appropriations (earmarks); extending Section 3610 of the CARES Act, extending Science & Technology Reinvention Laboratory (STRL) pilot program; and infrastructure development.

The 2023 Federal Agenda includes:

■ Federal Budget – Timely passage of the annual appropriation bills is critical to federal contractors and to the commands and federal agencies. Failure to pass appropriations in a timely manner puts tremendous strains on everyone connected to the federal contracting and acquisition system.

■ U.S. Human Space Flight & Exploration Policy – As development work on the SLS winds down, it is critical to position Marshall Space Flight Center to leverage its workforce capabilities to support new missions and programs.

■ U.S. Army’s Combat Capabilities Development Command (DEVCOM) Aviation & Missile Center (AvMC) – Nearly a quarter of the 40,000+ people who work on Redstone, work at the AvMC.

■ Directed Energy & Hypersonic Weapons System Development & Demonstration (Strike and Defense) – Our adversaries are developing these capabilities and it is critical that we keep pace.

■ Infrastructure – Local government leaders agree on a set of infrastructure projects. Infrastructure is critical to the region’s continued growth and having an agreed list of priorities is critical.

■ Bioscience – HudsonAlpha Institute for Biotechnology has been a tremendous resource for the region as we continue to diversify our economy. The science that they produce is changing lives around the world.

■ Army Aviation – These programs are critical to the Army, our national defense and the local economy.

Key Issues included in the 2023 State Agenda:

■ Renew & Enhance our Economic Development Incentives –Our existing economic incentives are set to expire this year, so it is critical that the legislature act promptly to get this ball rolling at the start of the session.

■ Pre-K Education – We have to expand access to Alabama Pre-K programs to make it available to all Alabama children. These programs are essential to prepare students for success in kindergarten and first grade.

■ K-12 Education – Good public education is essential to our workforce and industrial recruitment efforts. We provide a long list of ways for the legislature to spend the over $2 billion education budget reserve: mostly around teacher training, capital investment and enriching the student experience. We need more and better-trained teachers.

■ Workforce Development/Career – The Chamber has robust programs around Career Awareness and Workforce Recruitment, thanks to support from local and state government. We will need continued support to meet the workforce needs of tomorrow.

continued on page 26

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■ Child Care – one of the impediments stopping people from returning to the workforce is the absence of affordable childcare. We’re working with other Chambers in the state to see if we can build a coalition around some tax credits for parents and employers to help defray the expense of child care and to increase services.

■ Health Insurance Coverage Expansion – Alabama is one of just 12 states that has not expanded its healthcare coverage programs for the poor. The consequences of not providing care are profound – we’re losing rural hospitals; the health condition of our poor population suffers, and the costs are shifted to the employers in the state.

■ Invest in Higher Education – Supporting the Region’s Advanced Workforce; UAH and Alabama A&M have some thoughts about how to spend some of the education fund surplus, too.

■ Support Alabama Community College System – These institutions are essential to meet the workforce demands of our employers.

■ Infrastructure – The Agenda includes a list of top projects that the local elected leaders agree on. Such agreement makes getting the State’s support much easier!

■ Cyber – We request funding for a regional cyber lab to help businesses simulate and defend against cyber attacks, or critical infrastructure failures.

■ Biosciences – We request additional funding and research partnerships with universities and HudsonAlpha Institute for Biotechnology as well as some tax credits. This also promotes HudsonAlpha as a business incubator and a part of the Alabama innovation economy.

■ Support Appointed Superintendent & Boards of Education

– Having elected superintendents and Boards is a recipe for disaster – who reports to who – who’s in charge? The best person to run a school system may not be the person who lives here or has an interest in running for elected office. By the same token, electing school boards doesn’t seem to make a lot of sense either. We should try to take the politics out of these offices.

■ Stop Predatory Lending

■ Support Alabama National Guard Armory Project – we have a new opportunity to grow the Guard in our region, and this shows our support for that effort.

Agendas are delivered to the members of the State and Federal delegations during our Montgomery and DC Trips. We are grateful to our elected leaders for their continued support on these critical issues.

We’ve posted the full agendas on

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Annual Membership Meeting Recap

Almodóvars honored with Distinguished Service Award; Troy installed as Board Chair

The Huntsville/Madison County Chamber hosted its 87th Annual Membership Meeting on February 7 in the VBC South Hall. During the event, in his last official act as Chair, 2022 Chamber Board Chair Greg Brown presented the Distinguished Service Award to Rey and Cynthia Almodóvar.

The Almodóvars are longtime philanthropists, giving to many organizations including Kids to Love, the Huntsville Botanical Garden, the National Children’s Advocacy Center, and U.S. Space & Rocket Center, just to name a few. Rey Almodóvar is also co-founder and CEO Emeritus of Intuitive Research and Technology Corporation, which has become a world renowned aerospace and defense company.

“Rey and Cynthia are incredibly deserving of this honor. Some who win this award are recognized for business leadership, some for their community service, and others for their life-long passions,” said Brown. “Rey and Cynthia exhibit all of these attributes and so much more in all the ways they have given back and inspired others.”

Brown, who is co-CEO and CFO of Brown Precision, Inc. in Huntsville, officially passed the gavel to the Chamber’s 2023 Board Chair,

Lynn Troy. Troy is president and founder of Troy7, Inc., which was recently acquired by Yulista, Inc.

The Chamber’s Annual Membership Meeting gives us the opportunity to present updates on the past year to members and community leaders, plus look ahead to what’s in store in the coming months. We also awarded $4,500 in scholarships to each of our five area colleges: Alabama A&M University, Calhoun Community College, Drake State Community & Technical College, Oakwood University, and the University of Alabama in Huntsville.

Larry Leopard, associate director, technical of NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center, was the featured speaker for the luncheon. He reviewed several key projects that made 2022 a banner year for the Marshall team, including the launch of Artemis I and the Space Launch System and the safe return of the Orion capsule, the launch of the James Webb Telescope, supporting three Commercial Crew launches to the International Space Station, and the DART mission to intercept an asteroid. He also previewed projects coming for NASA & Marshall in the next few years.



Supporting the Chamber supports your community

Making sure that our Chamber members have access to outstanding development and professional programs, business services and events is our top priority. With your support, we are able to provide many of these resources through membership dues and ChamberON – our annual sponsorship campaign.

This year’s campaign is underway and runs through June 30. Use the QR code to pull up our catalog or visit hsvchamber. org/chamberon to check sponsorship opportunities at every level. There are many ways to grow and promote your business, from investing in annual events to high-impact marketing assets.

We have a highly energized group of ChamberON volunteers who give a tremendous amount of their time to connect with Chamber members who are looking to be more actively engaged in the Chamber’s mission through sponsorship opportunities. These volunteers are your personal conduit to an enhanced Chamber ROI. You may also contact Kristy Drake, the Chamber’s VP of Investor Relations, at 256-535-2036 or kdrake@


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Technology Business of the Year Summit 7 Systems

For more than a decade, Summit 7 Systems’ focus has been on data protection and governance. Last year, they extended that focus to their employees. Winning our Small Business Award for Technology Business of the Year was a special moment for the team at Summit 7. Their hard work in the tech industry was recognized, and CEO Scott Edwards was proud to show that off.

“This area is home to many phenomenal tech companies, so to receive this award amongst such top tier competition is an honor,” he said.

To Edwards (pictured far left) and his team, being average is not enough. Over 700 Department of Defense contractors rely on Summit 7’s solutions and services. Some of which include many Fortune 500 companies. One way they like to get the word out about their work is through a podcast created by the company’s marketing team, known as the ‘Sum It Up’ podcast.

Edwards added, “The Sum It Up podcast features our Chief Cybersecurity Evangelist Jacob Horne. It is a CMMC news round up and analysis that allows us to keep our customers and followers informed.”

Their work extends beyond the podcast and overflows into the community as well. According to their website, more than 440 meals have been served and approximately 18 U.S. Veteran families have been helped through Summit 7’s Legacy Impact. This program encourages employees to serve the community outside of the work they do on a daily basis. The company has served through several local organizations such as Girls, Inc.; Downtown Rescue Mission; and Still Serving Veterans. To read more about their legacy and impact, go to

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 Memorial Day Weekend Plans

Join us May 26-29 to cheer on some of the world’s most elite para-athletes

We are excited to host more than 350 of the world’s fastest para-cyclists in Cummings Research Park (CRP) over Memorial Day weekend, and we hope you’ll join us along the course!

This is our third year to host a Para-cycling road event with U.S. Paralympics Cycling and Medalist Sports, and this will be a much larger race with international prestige and teams of athletes from 30 to 40 countries. The UCI Para-Cycling Road World Cup is the first World Cup to be held on U.S. soil, and athletes are buzzing about coming to the Rocket City.

“We are thrilled to welcome these amazing elite athletes to Huntsville and know the Rocket City will welcome them openly,” said Erin Koshut, CRP’s executive director. “We encourage everyone to come out to the races and be part of this fun international event.”


We’ve posted lots of information on, where you can find course maps, parking information, a volunteer signup link, the schedule, and more. Speaking of the schedule, Individual Time Trials will be held Friday and Saturday, and Road Races will be on Sunday and Monday.

You will see different types of events each day, including handcycling, tricycling, cycling, and tandem cycling. We are planning to stream coverage on Sunday and Monday for the road races.

Who’s Coming

We’ve heard from a number of international teams over the last several months, and it’s fun to hear their questions about Huntsville. They’re curious about our climate and temperature – “is it hot in May?” the Irish team asked. Yes – it will likely be hot, we answered.

Overall, we expect to see 40 or more athletes representing Team USA, as well as a large delegation from Great Britain. We also expect to see teams from Ireland, Spain, Portugal, Belgium, Italy, the Netherlands, Australia, Germany, Mexico, Japan, and more. The Westin is the official race hotel, and other teams will stay at nearby hotels. You will see them practicing on the roads in the week or two leading up to the races. We ask that you please use caution – other countries are much more used to seeing cyclists and para-cyclists on the roads, so slow down and keep your eyes open for these riders. You will see and hear more safety messages in the weeks leading up to the races.

Parking & Spectating

No tickets are needed for this event, so we encourage you to bring family and friends to come watch the races. The start/finish area is on Explorer Boulevard, in front of Columbia High School as in years past. Parking is available at the school and at a number of businesses in CRP, and you are welcome to bring blankets or chairs and spectate around this area.

Fans may park at many businesses along the Explorer Boulevard ring – please use Enterprise Way, Discovery Drive, Voyager Way, or Jan Davis Drive to park at a number of businesses. Or, you may park at Bridge Street and walk over. You may also park at Columbia High School, but must come in via Slaughter Road to Farrow Road. We encourage you to visit and pull up the Spectator Guide, where we’ve posted lots of specific information to help you plan. Accessible Parking and Viewing is available at Auburn Huntsville Research Center, located at 345 Voyager Way NW.

This year, HudsonAlpha Institute for Biotechnology will host the Athlete Village and is also the location for the awards stage. If you’d like to watch the awards, you may cross at Explorer and Moquin Drive, and walk to HudsonAlpha. Please be prepared to walk, because no cars will be allowed on Explorer due to the races.

– Claire Aiello

Memorial Day Plans

We are planning a special kick-off ceremony on Monday, May 29 for Memorial Day to honor the athletes who have military ties. About 30 percent of Team USA’s athletes are Veterans, and several international athletes are Veterans as well. Many were injured during combat. This year, the Paralyzed Veterans of America team plans to return to compete in the races. Additionally, the Department of Defense helps with funding for the UCI Para-Cycling Road World Cup. We are also planning celebratory fireworks on Monday evening to officially close the four days of racing!

Volunteer Needs

We would love to plug you in as a volunteer. Our biggest need is course marshals over the four days of racing. This is a simple but important job – you help keep the course clear for the athletes as they race through. We have positions marked throughout the course, and we’ll place people at different points for four-hour slots. Volunteers get a free t-shirt and a meal, if your shift is around lunchtime. There are additional volunteer duties too – please use the QR code to sign up. Volunteers must be 16 or older, but if you have younger children, it’s fine to bring them. They can sit next to you on the grass and cheer.

Volunteers, we’re going to make it worth your while! Everyone who signs up and shows up to work their shift will be entered into drawings for restaurant and hotel gift cards, a $500 Breeze Airways voucher, Team USA gear, and more.

UAH Connection

Students in the Society of Women Engineers and Tau Beta Pi Engineering Honor Society at UAH are involved in a project to help the athletes. Some of the cyclists don’t have mobility in their legs and aren’t able to use portable handwashing stations that require you to use a foot pedal. So, the UAH students are designing a handwashing station that runs through a sensor. They’re consulting with the U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Committee to finetune the design. Seven students are working on the project, and come from all engineering fields – mechanical, electrical, industrial, civil, and aerospace.


Professional Services Business of the Year Engineering & Computer Simulations

Adapting to modern day challenges is how our Government Contracting – Professional Services Business of the Year winner maintains success. Engineering & Computer Simulations (ECS) is known for their advanced learning technologies and exceptional individual and team solutions, which include training, maintaining, and sustaining military service members, frontline workers, and industry workforces throughout the world.

ECS boasts its ability to blend expertise, innovation, and dedication among its employees which span across Orlando, Huntsville, and San Antonio, Texas. They are helping connect other communities together through their work, and that work gets seen all around the world. Some of their award-winning work has been recognized through lists such as Deloitte Fast 500, Inc. 5000 List, Military Training Technology Top 100 and more.

As a winner of the Chamber’s Small Business Awards, ECS was excited to receive their award in November 2022. Three representatives were able to attend the ceremony, and with big smiles they accepted the award.


Meet our 2023 Leads

These four head up the Chamber’s Ambassador & Emissary programs

Our Ambassador and Emissary programs allow Chamber members to become more engaged with the community. Chamber Ambassadors are individual volunteers who help represent and promote the Huntsville/Madison County Chamber, and you see them at many events throughout the community! They also promote their own business to other companies. Chamber Emissaries are also volunteers and are chosen to act as messengers on behalf of the Chamber to advocate to current members.

Kristen Milam and Stephen Broady are our Lead Ambassadors. Milam is a Realtor and Property Manager for Rosenblum Realty, where she helps clients manage their real estate investments, and helps buyers and sellers achieve real estate dreams in the residential, commercial, and multi-unit markets. Broady is a Key Account Representative for Huntsville Utilities, overseeing about 55 large commercial and industrial accounts. We asked them to share a bit about their Chamber roles.

“We support Chamber of Commerce members by attending ribbon cuttings and groundbreakings,” said Broady. “We help to organize some of the Chamber events such as the monthly Ambassador lunches, and we also help mentor new Ambassadors.”

“I really enjoy being able to serve my community by being a leading advocate for Huntsville,” said Milam. “I take great pride in being a genuine resource for newcomers to Huntsville and enjoy mentoring those who want to get more involved in all that this beautiful city has to offer. I do this by showing others how they can get involved in the Chamber and the community to benefit not only their business, but their own personal development as well.”

Cassie Scott and Abby Lee Casey are our Lead Emissaries. In their

work, Scott is general manager for Southern Scape, LLC, which specializes in residential and commercial landscape projects. Casey is director of sponsorship Sales at the Von Braun Center, selling sponsorships to VBC-owned events and also selling on-site advertising and marketing opportunities on VBC premises.

The two facilitate Emissary meetings and leadership for all current Emissaries to ensure Chamber members are well-informed on how to get the most out of their membership.

“The Emissary program really is an elite group of volunteers that I have had the privilege to be a part of for so many years,” said Scott. “My role is to help encourage and motivate all of us to increase our own awareness of Chamber offerings and programs so that we can better assist our adopted members throughout the calendar year. I also get to assist the Ambassador program by providing ‘mentor moments’ and professional development trainings during our monthly luncheons.”

Casey shared what developments she has seen through the program.

“As an Emissary and ChamberON Volunteer, I have learned that networking, continued education, and community involvement is the best way to build the necessary relationships to grow our community and the businesses within it,” said Casey. “With the understanding of the importance of relationships, I am not only able to grow my role at the VBC, but I am able to help other businesses do the same.”

We are always looking to grow our programs. Visit for more information on joining the Chamber’s Ambassadors & Emissaries, or contact Lakeysha Brown: or 256535-2038.

Stephen Broady Kristen Milam Cassie Scott Abby Lee Casey

chamber staff


Executive Staff

Chip Cherry, CCE, president & CEO

Meghan Chambliss, 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

Ross Ivey, senior director, industry relations

Annie Davis, director of talent initiatives

Finance & Administration

Mary McNairy, IOM, vice president

Joe Watson, facilities supervisor

Kim Weeks, accounting specialist – receivables

Diana Baccus, director of event management

Stefanie Davis resource desk coordinator

Government & Public Affairs

Mike Ward, CCE, senior vice president

Huntsville Regional Economic Growth Initiative (HREGI)

Kristy Drake, IOM, vice president, investor relations

Investor Relations

Kristy Drake IOM, vice president, investor relations

Lakeysha Brown director of member engagement

Richard Bigoney membership account executive

Crystal Baker retention specialist

Marketing & Communications

Claire Aiello, IOM, vice president

Hiroko Sedensky, web designer

Kristi Sherrard, graphic designer

Kayla Brown, communications & social media specialist

Small Business | Economic Inclusion & Diversity


Ashley Engles-Ross, vice president, small business


Australia is an increasingly important partner for the United States, given its strategic geography and commitment to collective defense. As one of the top countries for U.S. military sales, Australia is also a strong market for Huntsville companies. This was evident at the 2023 Avalon Air Show in Melbourne, held from Feb. 28 to March 2.

Led by the Alabama Department of Commerce, a delegation of six Alabama companies exhibited at Avalon, including five from the Huntsville region. Huntsville/Madison County Chamber Senior VP for Economic Development Lucia Cape traveled with the delegation to share information about the Huntsville region and additional opportunities for trans-Pacific collaboration.

“The Chamber exhibited at the last Avalon show in 2019,” Cape said. “At that time, we were focused mostly on recruiting Australian companies to Huntsville, based on two projects that had recently located here. This year the focus was on sales between U.S. and Australian companies, and our team did very well. Australia continues to provide a lot of opportunity for business development.”

The five Huntsville-area companies attending were:

■ Ace Aeronautics , an engineering, manufacturing, and testing firm that develops cockpit upgrades for transport aircraft.

■ Acquisition Integration , a contract manufacturer that offers a wide range of expertise and capabilities to improve the operational and business performance of customers.

■ Cummings Aerospace , a defense and aerospace systems engineering firm that specializes in model-based engineering, modeling and simulation, and other technologies.

■ PTS Expeditionary Communications , a company that offers specialized products that offer expeditionary communication solutions.

■ ReLogic Research Inc. , an enterprise that provides applied research, production development and fabrication services.

The trip was arranged by the Alabama Office of International Trade, led by Director Christina Stimpson. She was joined by Commerce Assistant Director of Business Development Bob Smith and Commerce International Trade Specialist Beau Lore.

Recruiting Australian companies to Huntsville continues to be a focus for the Chamber, based on recent successes. In 2018, Electro Optic Systems (EOS), a leading Australian technology company, selected Huntsville for its U.S. division headquarters and manufacturing, EOS Defense Systems USA. EOS Defense makes remote-controlled weapons operation systems.

“As you know, in making a decision where to establish the headquarters for our U.S. operation, we considered a number of cities around the country,” said Grant Sanderson, senior VP of International Defence Business and Sales and Marketing for EOS. “We have never regretted establishing our operation in Huntsville, and that decision is reenforced continuously by the great improvements we continue to see in the local quality of life, the support to the business community, the investment in workforce development, and the infrastructure that underpins the exceptionally well-planned expansion of the communities around us.”

In 2019, Sydney’s Marathon Targets established its U.S. operations in temporary space at the Alabama Robotics Technology Park. Marathon makes AI-driven autonomous targets for live-fire tactical training. In 2022, they moved into Cummings Research Park.

“I moved with my family to Huntsville in 2019 to trial it as a location for our company’s U.S. headquarters,” said Brad Brown, general manager for Marathon Targets. “We had been considering a few other locations around the country, and being in the defense sector, access to key military installations was critical. We found Huntsville to be the best choice due to the assistance we gained from the city Chamber of Commerce, the proximity to Redstone Arsenal, the excellent flight options – direct to DC and Orlando – and extremely low check-in effort at Huntsville airport, and the extremely high talent pool of technical staff in the local area.”

Avalon is held in Melbourne every two years, with the next show in March 2025. If your company is interested in learning more about attending, please contact Lucia Cape at

Drawing Interest from Down Under

Huntsville companies seize opportunity in Australia