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Better Together At Bradley, we combine legal experience and knowledge with a sophisticated understanding of the industries that drive Huntsville. We use our talents, judgment, work ethic, and experience to come up with practical, strategic solutions specifically tailored to our clients’ business operations. We go above and beyond expectations to help our clients meet their goals. Our Huntsville attorneys leverage a broad range of perspectives to help achieve the results that we expect and our clients demand.

200 Clinton Ave. W | Suite 900 | Huntsville, AL 35801 | 256.517.5100 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: Frank M. Caprio., 256.517.5142,, Bradley Arant Boult Cummings LLP, 200 Clinton Avenue West, Suite 900, Huntsville, AL 35801. Š2018

Improving lives across the Tennessee Valley

We are the Huntsville Hospital Health System, a team committed to bringing better health care to you and your family. We’re all across the Tennessee Valley with more resources, more services and more locations — we’re improving lives, together.

Huntsville Hospital Health System includes Huntsville Hospital, Huntsville Hospital for Women & Children, Madison Hospital, Athens-Limestone Hospital, Decatur Morgan Hospitals, Helen Keller & Red Bay Hospitals, Marshall Medical Centers, Lawrence Medical Center, Russellville Hospital and Lincoln Health System in Tennessee.

welcome new chamber members Joined in September 2019 Acre Group, LLC Anavation LLC ARHA - Alabama Restaurant and Hospitality Association Blackrock Strategy Brandware Public Relations Group Bullet Tees Chiropractic Health Clinic of Huntsville CK Mann Realty Community Insurance, LLC Compendium International, Inc Cove Chiropractic, Inc. Defense Enterprise Solutions Dormakaba USA Inc Edgar’s Bakery - South Parkway Especially by Eileen Fractal Brewing Project Great Harvest Bread Company Grow Cove Henderson Roofing, Inc. Holy Spirit Regional Catholic School ITSC Secure Solutions, LLC Koda Technologies, Inc. Madison Plumbing Service Mazda Toyota Manufacturing, U.S.A., Inc. North Alabama War Dawgs Off The Rack Boutique Oral Arts Laboratory, Inc. PM Environmental PSSTech RadioBro Corporation Rehabilitation & Neurological Services, LLC Ridgeline Construction Rooks Realty Inc. Seventh Sense Consulting, LLC SJS Machine, LLC Spry Methods State Beauty Supply - Huntsville Top Jocks, Inc Urgent Care for Children Vuteq USA, Inc. Wilson Little Team

Joined in October 2019 Alabama Court Reporting, Inc. Alion Angie Kloote - Keller Williams Realty AVISTA Strategies, Inc. Bold Agency, LLC The Builders Group Caliber Home Loans Cherokee Nation Business Delmar Mortgage Deshazo Automation, LLC Downtown Behavioral Health Dynamis, Inc EDGE Planning, Landscape Architecture and Urban Design Granger, Thagard & Associates, Inc. Huntsville Madison County Hospitality Association The JMJ Law Firm, LLC Marketing on the Web Melt Huntsville Metro by T-Mobile Metro Diner - Madison North Alabama Mortgage, Inc Offset Strategic Services (OSS) Patterson Place Peduzzi Associates, Ltd. The P.I.L.L. Method International Ravi Agarwal - Keller Williams Realty Redmond Lending Group LLC Reset Onsite Massage Therapy Rocket City N-Hance Rocket Republic Brewing Co - Downtown Sentine, Inc. Strickland Paper Company, Inc. The University of Tennessee Space Institute Wheeler Wildlife Refuge Association

If you want to make a valuable investment in your business and the community, the Chamber is the place to start. Contact Donna McCrary, Membership Retention Manager: 256-535-2027 or


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EXECUTIVE COUNCIL BBVA Compass ■ Corporate Office Properties Trust (COPT) ■ Crestwood Medical Center ■ Dynetics, Inc. General Atomics Electromagnetics ■ Lockheed Martin Corporation ■ Northrop Grumman Corporation ■ PNC Bank Raytheon Company ■ SAIC ■ SES - Science and Engineering Services, LLC ■ Teledyne Brown Engineering, Inc. ■ Yulista

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

PROGRESS PARTNERS Ability Plus ■ Anglin Reichmann Armstrong ■ ASRC Federal ■ B. L. Harbert International, LLC ■ Baron Services, Inc. ■ BASF Corporation ■ BB&T ■ Bradley Arant Boult Cummings LLP Brown Precision, Inc. ■ CenterState Bank ■ Colliers International ■ Connected Logistics (LogC2) ■ Davidson Technologies, Inc. ■ Huntsville Tractor & Equipment, Inc. Huntsville-Madison County Builders Association ■ IBERIABANK ■ J Smith Lanier & Co., a Marsh McLennan Agency LLC company ■ Keel Point, LLC ■ L3Harris ■ LMI ■ LogiCore LSINC Corporation ■ The Orthopaedic Center (TOC) ■ Progress Bank ■ Radiance Technologies ■ RE/MAX Alliance ■ RUAG Space USA Inc. ■ SCI Technology, Inc. ■ SELEX Galileo Inc. ServisFirst Bank ■ Sirote & Permutt, PC ■ Spirit Coach, LLC ■ Steak-Out (Rosie’s Restaurants, Inc., & Right Way Restaurants, Inc.) ■ Wells Fargo Bank ■ Woody Anderson Ford PROGRESS INVESTORS 4SITE, Inc. ■ Air Essentials, Inc. ■ Alpha Beta Technologies, Inc. ■ Amanda Howard | Sotheby’s International Realty ■ Armstrong Relocation Company Huntsville LLC ■ Averbuch Realty / Enterprises ■ Bailey-Harris Construction BancorpSouth ■ BID DESIGNS, LLC ■ BRPH Architects-Engineers, Inc. ■ Bryant Bank ■ Canvas, Inc. ■ CB&S Bank ■ Century Automotive ■ CFD Research Corporation ■ CGI Federal ■ Coast Personnel Services Croy Engineering, LLC ■ DC Blox, Inc. ■ deciBel Research ■ Deloitte LLP ■ DESE Research, Inc. ■ Engineering Design Technologies/EDT-THA Architecture ■ Express Employment Professionals ■ Fernandez Financial Group FITE Building Company ■ FLS Translation & Interpreting ■ Fountain, Parker, Harbarger & Associates, LLC ■ Freedom Real Estate & Capital, LLC ■ Garver ■ HEMSI ■ Hiley Automotive Group ■ Huntsville Botanical Garden Huntsville/Madison County Convention & Visitors Bureau ■ INTERFUZE Corporation ■ Investor’s Resource ■ IronMountain Solutions ■ The Karen Morris Team at Keller Williams Realty ■ Legend Realty – Jim Hoekenschneider LINE-X, LLC ■ The Lioce Group, Inc. ■ MAG Aerospace ■ MSB Analytics, Inc. ■ nLogic, LLC ■ PALCO ■ PFM Financial Advisors LLC ■ PHOENIX ■ PROJECTXYZ, Inc. ■ QTEC Aerospace ■ Quadrus Corporation Ready Mix USA ■ Renasant Bank ■ RJ Young Company ■ Rosenblum Realty ■ S&ME, Inc. ■ Sigmatech, Inc. ■ Snelling ■ Systems Products and Solutions, Inc. ■ Technicolor ■ TriVector Services, Inc. ■ Troy 7, Inc. U.S. Space & Rocket Center ■ ■ Valor Communities ■ Van Valkenburgh & Wilkinson Properties, Inc. ■ Venturi, Inc. ■ Volkert, Inc. ■ Warren Averett, LLC ■ West Huntsville Land Co., Inc. ■ Wilmer & Lee, P.A.


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$183,430 2018 Total Impact


Over the last 70 years Bank Independent has built a culture that encourages and enables all of us to make a positive difference in the lives of others. We gratefully serve through volunteering and leadership roles in the community. From charitable events like our Helping Hands initiatives to local economic development projects, to philanthropic gifts from the Edward Fennel Mauldin Memorial Endowed Scholarships, we are passionate about projects which make a positive impact to the communities we serve. It is our privilege to invest in our community, because a rising tide lifts all boats.

BIBANK.COM | MEMBER FDIC | 877.865.5050

dec 2019







FBI employing locally, also bringing down workers from DC area

Workforce study reveals renewed focus for north Alabama

Dr. Patricia Sims, J.F. Drake State Community and Technical College

Images on cover and page 18: alphaspirit ©










COMMUNITY MINDED: Huntsville Utilities’ Project Share


WORKFORCE UPDATES: Free Career Prep Curriculum; Let’s Go Recruit!

29 HREGI PROFILE: Michael Dewitz with PARSONS 30 SMALL BUSINESS: Forum attracts hundreds for day of networking 31


32 C.R.A.S.E.: HPD offers class on responding to active shooter 33 EDUCATION UPDATE: Making the grade – School report cards 34


35 EVENT PHOTOS: 2019 State of the City Address

editorial staff publisher Chip Cherry, CCE editor

Claire Aiello editorial designer

Kristi Sherrard contributing writers

Stephen Baack Katelyn Sides Baker Kent Ballard, Jr. Elizabeth Fleming Michael C. Johnson Amberly Ware ad sales Kristy Drake

Richard Bigoney

Tina Blankenship

Our mission: To prepare, develop and promote our community for economic growth. (additional contact information on page 34) Chamber members: You are encouraged to contribute ideas for our publications, including Initiatives magazine. Please send items to The Huntsville/Madison County Chamber maintains editorial control. A HUNTSVILLE/MADISON COUNTY CHAMBER PUBLICATION

dec 2019 initiatives


Huntsville/Madison County Chamber

Executive Committee and Board of Directors 2019 Executive Committee

Kim Lewis, Chair, PROJECTXYZ, Inc. Kevin Byrnes, Chair-Elect, Navigator International, LLC Gary Bolton, Immediate Past Chair, ADTRAN, Inc. Ron Poteat, Chair, Chamber Foundation, Regions Bank Lynn Troy, Secretary/Treasurer, Troy 7, Inc. Jeff Gronberg, Vice Chair, Economic Development & Industry Relations, deciBel Research, Inc.

Alicia Ryan, Vice Chair, Government & Public Affairs, LSINC Corporation

Jim Rogers, Vice Chair, HREGI, Lockheed Martin Corporation Greg Brown, Vice Chair, Marketing & Communications,

A Message from

Chip Cherry

Brown Precision, Inc.

Frank Williams, Vice Chair, Membership, Landers McLarty Dodge Chrysler Jeep

Laura Huckabee-Jennings, Vice Chair, Small Business & Events, Transcend LLC

Dear Chamber Investors, Community Leaders, and Friends:

Joe Ritch, Vice Chair, Tennessee Valley BRAC,

The quote from the A-Team is one of my favorites – “I love it when a plan comes together.” Our region’s leadership has been laying the foundation over decades that has led to the success we are realizing today. The growth we are experiencing in various sectors across the region is impressive. With that growth comes enhanced employment opportunities for our citizens, and it also provides the opportunity to recruit new people to our region. We are working with our regional partners to ensure that we capitalize on every opportunity to make the region’s economy one of the most diverse and dynamic in the U.S.

Penny Billings, Chair-Appointed, BancorpSouth - Huntsville Craig Naudain, Chair-Appointed, SAIC Dr. Karockas Watkins, Chair-Appointed, Ability Plus, Inc. Mayor Tommy Battle, ex-officio member, City of Huntsville Mayor Paul Finley, ex-officio member, City of Madison Chairman Dale Strong, ex-officio member,

In the workforce article on p. 18 you will read that the 94 entities interviewed by Deloitte plan to hire 14,000 people over the next three years. These new jobs will create 11,000 additional new jobs in the service sector. The 25,000 new jobs will be filled by a blend of residents in the 14-county region in north Alabama and a three-county region in southern Tennessee – as well as new people moving into our region. The opportunity that lies before us is significant. Many of our fellow citizens will have the opportunity to enhance their economic standing with better paying jobs with the benefits they need to support themselves and their families. We will welcome new residents to fill jobs in those fields where demand is greater than what we have available locally. Getting this right will translate to a stronger, more dynamic and resilient regional economy. We are blessed to be in this position. A blessing that has been created due to the hard work and vision of many who have served before us, those who work diligently but will never receive the credit they deserve, and elected officials who have put forth a vision of growth and regional cooperation that has become the envy of many communities. We are seeing our plan come together. To fully capitalize on the opportunities before us, we must rally together as a region to ensure that we take full advantage of it. I look forward to seeing you at a Chamber event soon. I wish you, your family, and your employees a Blessed Holiday Season!

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


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Sirote & Permutt, PC

Madison County Commission

Chris Pape, General Counsel, Lanier Ford Shaver & Payne, P.C. Chip Cherry, CCE, President & CEO, Huntsville/Madison County Chamber

Elected Board Mike Alvarez, Venturi, LLC Bill Bailey, Radiance Technologies, Inc. James Barclay, FLIR Systems, Inc. Blake Bentley, SportsMED Orthopaedic Surgery and Spine Center David Bier, Rocket City Trash Pandas Melissa Davis, MTA, Inc. John Eagan, BB&T Kevin Fernandez, Fernandez Financial Group, LLC Dr. Joe Green, Davidson Technologies, Inc. Joni Green, Five Stones Research Corporation Mike Gullion, Spur John Hall, All Points Logistics, LLC Ginger Harper, IBERIABANK Josh Herren, Yulista Lee Holland, Turner Construction Company Melody Holt, Holt & Holt Entrepreneurship, LLC Tharon Honeycutt, MSB Analytics, Inc. Amanda Howard, Amanda Howard | Sotheby’s International Realty

Hank Isenberg, IronMountain Solutions McKinley James, Polaris Industries, Inc. Lauren Johannesmeyer, Google Fiber, Huntsville Sean Kelly, Regions Bank David King, Dynetics, Inc. April Mason, Toyota Motor Manufacturing Alabama, Inc. Bob McCaleb, Northrop Grumman Corporation Kevin McCombs, Teledyne Brown Engineering, Inc. Janice Migliore, PALCO Alana Parker, Rocket City Drywall & Supply, Inc. Zack Penney, Bill Penney Toyota/Mitsubishi Jami Peyton, Canvas, Inc. Ashley Ryals, Homegrown, LLC Jeff Samz, Huntsville Hospital Sameer Singhal, CFD Research Corporation Beth Sippel, Synovus Robert “Bob” Smith, Booz Allen Hamilton Sandra Stephens, Keel Point, LLC Cynthia Streams, Domino's (Valley Pizza, Inc.) Ken Tucker, The Boeing Company Mike Watkins, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Alabama John Watson, Torch Technologies Dennis Weese, Line-X LLC A HUNTSVILLE/MADISON COUNTY CHAMBER PUBLICATION

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What would you do with a Dream Chaser®? These two young scientists from Italy best answered that question in the recent European Space Agency’s Space Exploration Masters competition, and their prize was a week-long visit to Huntsville. From November 10 through 16, Linda Raimondo and Mattia Barbarossa (L-R) toured the Rocket City, met with aerospace partners and scientists at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center, and presented their concept on how to use Sierra Nevada Corporation’s Dream Chaser for scientific research. The two also visited Space Camp at the U.S. Space & Rocket Center. The two winners are young and brilliant. Barbarossa, 18, recently finished high school in Naples, and has already founded his own company, Sidereus Space Dynamics. Raimondo, 19, is a physics student at the University of Turin. ■

CNBC spends day reporting live in Huntsville

Compiled by Claire Aiello

consisted of Draper, RadioBro Corporation, RUAG Space USA, the North Alabama International Trade Association (NAITA), the University of Alabama in Huntsville, and the U.S. Space & Rocket Center. Our booth was strategically located across from NASA and adjacent to Aerojet Rocketdyne, Boeing, Dynetics, and ULA – all prominent commercial players in our country’s aerospace ecosystem, and all with a presence in Huntsville.

“It makes sense that we’re the only community exhibiting at IAC because we have so much to offer across the civil, commercial, and defense space industries,” said Lucia Cape, senior vice president of economic development for the Chamber. “With Marshall Space Flight Center, the Missile Defense Agency, the U.S. Army Space and Missile Defense Command, and 400 aerospace and defense companies in the Huntsville metro, we are connected to nearly every U.S. space initiative in some way.” ■

Culinary Partnership On November 6, the U.S. Space & Rocket Center and Huntsville City Schools announced a new partnership that will provide a unique opportunity for the school system’s culinary students to work with and learn from the Rocket Center’s professional catering staff. Culinary students joined in the event.

CNBC has made several visits here in the past few months, preparing a series of reports titled Rocket City U.S.A. Anchor/reporter Morgan Brennan profiled several companies in aerospace, manufacturing, biotechnology and other fields, exploring Huntsville’s economic growth in recent years. Brennan reported live from different locations around Huntsville on November 12. ■

Huntsville exhibits at IAC 2019 We recently took asmartplace on the road, exhibiting at the International Aeronautical Congress in Washington, DC the week of October 21-25. The Rocket City was the ONLY community to participate among the 174 corporate, state, and national exhibitors. The IAC is attended by agency heads and senior executives of the world’s space agencies. The Huntsville/Madison County Chamber coordinated the Rocket City’s presence, which 10

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“These students are pioneering the way forward,” said Superintendent Christie Finley. “This partnership actually creates a model for career technical education, not only in Huntsville City, but hopefully around the state and the nation. We have always strived for opportunities for our students to venture outside of the classroom and into the real workforce. With this program, our students can immerse themselves in the workforce while they explore their own coursework.” ■ A HUNTSVILLE/MADISON COUNTY CHAMBER PUBLICATION

New Superintendent Madison County Schools has hired Allen Perkins as its new superintendent. Perkins was hired on October 21, and officially began his duties on Nov. 4. He has worked for the school system since 2003, starting as a teacher, then an assistant principal and principal. He moved to the central office as supervisor of instruction in 2015. ■


HREGI Event with Facebook Our Huntsville Regional Economic Growth Initiative (HREGI) investors got an update on the Facebook Data Center on October 21. Katie Comer, Facebook’s Regional Community Development Manager of the Southeast, gave a presentation on what is happening at the company’s site in North Huntsville Industrial Park. Comer said the data center should be operational within the next year, and the buildout will be fully complete within five to seven years. Investors also learned all of Facebook’s data centers are committed to operating on 100 percent renewable energy in 2020. Facebook plans to hire about 200 people to work at the data center. Visit to check for updates. By the way, thank you to Facebook for joining us as a new HREGI investor! If you are interested in this program, please contact Kristy Drake at 256-535-2036. ■


dec 2019 initiatives



Now Hiring FBI employing locally, also bringing down workers from DC area


he Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) is increasing its presence in Huntsville by the day. The Bureau wants you to know it’s hiring, and this is just the start, as construction continues on the new campus on Redstone Arsenal. Jobs are posted at, and more will be listed as space becomes available to hold the new hires. Nearly a dozen FBI Headquarters divisions and offices will relocate approximately 1,400 positions to Huntsville by the end of 2021, when the main Operations Support Building is due to be finished. These positions include current FBI employees, contractors, and new hires. The FBI has been recruiting in Huntsville for nearly a year and expects to be recruiting in the greater Huntsville area for the next several years. The first efforts included experienced professionals in finance and contracting, and upcoming efforts will include mid-career leaders in the security and IT fields. Positions range from entry-level to senior professionals. The FBI said it plans to partner with a number of universities in the area for partnerships to provide potential research opportunities in critical threat areas, and these could also be avenues for recruiting and hiring. These include the University of Alabama in Huntsville, Alabama A&M University, the University of Alabama, Auburn University, Vanderbilt, the University of Tennessee, and Georgia Tech.

Positions available in Huntsville will span a broad range of roles and responsibilities, both operational and support, across many sectors of the FBI, including: ■ The Counterterrorism Division ■ The Cyber Division ■ The Directorate of Intelligence ■ The Insider Threat Office ■ Finance and Facilities Division ■ Human Resources Division ■ The Information Technology Branch ■ The Laboratory Division ■ The Operational Technology Division ■ The Security Division ■ The Training Division ■ The Weapons of Mass Destruction Directorate

Employees moving here from DC Barbara Wade recently moved to Huntsville from Sacramento, California. A colleague, Rachel Campbell, is a management and program analyst, and moved from northern Virginia. Both are working to help FBI employees and their families with smooth transitions to north Alabama. “A lot of the people moving here are lifelong DC residents,” said Wade. “They are leaving what they know.” Many include family members who will be looking for jobs here in other lines of work, including the medical field, education, technical, professional, or administrative-type jobs. Campbell is originally from Mississippi and said it wasn’t a difficult decision for her to return to the South. “There are things I miss about northern Virginia, but there are things I love about Huntsville,” Campbell said. “One of the big talking points is com12

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muting time, and cost of living is also great. I think if you want to get involved, you can, you just have to put yourself out there. Huntsville has a great small town feel.” ■ Claire Aiello Vice President, Marketing & Communications A HUNTSVILLE/MADISON COUNTY CHAMBER PUBLICATION

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Project Share Give in the name of someone you love this holiday season


untsville Utilities asks you to add a little something extra to your bill this month. In fact, you can make a tax-deductible gift all year long to help people in need of utility assistance through Project Share. Project Share launched in 1988 to help elderly, disabled and handicapped customers pay utility bills during the winter months. One hundred percent of funds contributed to Project Share go directly to those in need, and to date, the community has contributed upwards of $4.5 million to help 24,596 families with utility assistance. It used to be that the money went to help people pay their utility bills, but a change was made to the program a few years ago. Now, when possible, a team assesses the person’s home to make upgrades and improve efficiency, with the goal of reducing future

bills. Leon Wass is Energy Services Supervisor at Huntsville Utilities, and helps determine what these homes need, then coordinates with local contractors to put solutions in place. Work may include putting in insulation or caulking windows and doors, which will help keep warm air in. There’s another possible step, though. The customer may have an old heating and air system, barely hanging on. In some cases, workers will install a ductless mini-split system to take the strain off that older unit. “These are highly efficient – they use very little energy to do what they do. This supplemental system will heat and cool roughly about 600 square feet,” explained Wass. “We try to put that in an area of the house where people spend the majority of the time, usually the TV area, so at least that part of the house is comfortable. We believe when they are comfortable, it increases their quality of life.”

Whether it’s a luncheon in the old Campus Cafeteria or a workshop in the former AV Room, the Stone Event Center can bring old school charm to any of your corporate events.


initiatives dec 2019


Wass said people are grateful to receive this help, and it makes it all worth it. “The appreciation we get from them, seeing them go from the fear in their eye, to knowing if their unit goes out, they won’t be freezing, to see their electric bill go down so they can buy medicine or something else they might need, because it didn’t go toward their utility bill… those are some of the stories we get, that’s what keeps us doing what we’re doing,” Wass said. “There definitely is a feeling that we helped someone, which is what we’re here to do.”

Project Share Contributors Many contribute to Project Share, including individuals, businesses and churches. Good Shepherd Catholic Church in Huntsville has supported the program for more than 20 years. “Our Christian faith tells us that our first fruits should be given back in Jesus’ name, and what better way to do it than help those in need in our community,” said Susan Wandler, who is on the church’s tithe committee. “There are so many who could use your support. Sometimes they just need a hand up, and this is such an easy way to help.”

It’s Easy to Give Many of us have friends or family members who might be hard to shop for, or say they don’t need any gifts. Why not make a donation in their names? Your gift goes a long way to help those in need, right here in our community. You can donate by adding to this month’s payment, and there is a special note in your recent bill to add names and addresses, so that person will receive notification about your gift. Or, call Huntsville Utilities at 256-535-1200 to ask that a permanent amount be added to your monthly bill. Your donation is tax deductible. ■ Claire Aiello

Vice President, Marketing & Communications


dec 2019 initiatives


Career Prep Curriculum available online for FREE


magine how efficient the workforce in north Alabama could be if industries and school systems could begin to prepare future employees as early as the 8th grade. What if students were encouraged to align their career goals with tangible actions that systematically exposed them to smart careers in north Alabama while strategically assisting them in reaching each goal? The Huntsville/Madison County Chamber believes we have developed a tool that can answer this question. We are proud to introduce the Career Prep curriculum currently available online via Career Preparedness is a mandatory class in the State of Alabama, and each student must pass it in order to graduate. Offering this course in high school is noble; however, there is no true state-regulated curriculum to deliver to Career Prep teachers. In order to solve this statewide dilemma, the Chamber has worked diligently to create a journey-like road map for students that uses online technology to escort them toward congru-


initiatives dec 2019

ent careers. This curriculum is part of a five-year plan to better prepare the future workforce. Is one class in 9th grade enough to prepare a student for the workforce? Probably not. However, Elka Torpey of the U.S. Department of Labor identified high school as being a great time to think about careers, and we couldn’t agree more. Our Career Prep is a 10-unit journey that encourages students to learn more about Madison County, themselves and their interests, career pathways and career clusters, how to prepare for an interview, how to function in the workplace with an emphasis on soft skills, how to manage the money they will earn in the future, plus a final assessment. This comprehensive approach to workforce development is designed to empower a student to introspectively answer the questions: ‘What do I want to do with my life?’ and ‘How can I fit into a career here in north Alabama?’ by the end of the course. The curriculum is also designed to effectively support educators


by delivering a reliable resource equipped with a digital textbook for educators, formal and informal assessments, PowerPoints for each unit and lesson, comprehensive lesson plans, and an online Student Guide accessible from any computer, tablet or smartphone. By the way… all of these amazing resources are FREE! The curriculum, in conjunction with the Chamber’s Senior Sprint Career Fair in the spring, can greatly prepare students for success. Career Prep will be consolidated into a Career Readiness curriculum – empowering graduating seniors who have not made firm post-graduation plans or enrolled in a local two-year college. It will be specifically developed to support students as they transition into the workforce. Career Prep is typically offered in a student’s freshman year of high school while Career Readiness will serve as a refresher course in order to support graduating seniors and eventually adults. Imagine more students being knowledgeable about career possibilities offered in north Alabama. What if thousands of students could learn more about your company and your mission in the process? With these educational innovations, we can collectively change the landscape of the workforce in north Alabama. Visit today to learn more as well as post your jobs there, so students will see your company as they learn this valuable tool. ■ Kent Ballard, Jr.

Workforce Education Specialist, Chamber Foundation

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asmartplace on the Road took a trip to Auburn University

on October 17 to talk with students in the Samuel Ginn College of Engineering and the Harbert College of Business about career opportunities here in Huntsville/Madison County. Thirty companies attended from a variety of industries. They talked with students about full-time jobs, co-ops, and internships. We also gave a presentation to the students about 10 Reasons to Move to Huntsville/Madison County, covering cost of living, quality of life, outdoor recreation, entertainment options, and much more. Over 180 students attended the event. It was a great day on The Plains! ■ Katelyn Sides Baker


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2905 Westcorp Blvd SW | Suite 213A | Huntsville, AL Integrity. Always. Since 2006. dec 2019 initiatives


Wheels in Motion

by Claire Aiello


initiatives dec 2019


“This labor market assessment may be unprecedented in its scope and scale. Our team conducted 94 employer interviews in north Alabama, including major public employers as well as companies across numerous industry sectors. The insights and findings from this type of in-depth study will help the region prioritize strategies to enable it to improve the flow of future workers and encourage more in-migration in order to close talent supply/demand gaps.” – Darin Buelow, Global Location Strategy Leader, Deloitte

Workforce study reveals renewed focus for north Alabama “If you build it, they will come.” The first part of that is happening now. We’ve built the economy – north Alabama is seeing rapid growth in a wide range of sectors. The region’s growth strategy is working, which is very good news for everyone. To fully capitalize on our success, we must now focus on enhancing our workforce development and recruitment efforts. Many of the new workers will come from the region. The new jobs will present many people across north Alabama with the opportunity to improve the quality of life for themselves and their families. For this to happen, we must make sure students and the un/underemployed are aware of and prepared for these opportunities. Many of the jobs that are being created will require that we recruit new people to our communities, and we must be more active and strategic in these efforts. Launch 2035 recently conducted an extensive labor market assessment to evaluate our competitive position and readiness to support future growth. This assessment was completed by a team from Deloitte, who interviewed 94 stakeholders from five priority sectors: Advanced Manufacturing, Aerospace & Defense, Information Technology, Bioscience, and Service Professionals. Of those, 89 percent were private companies and 11 percent were federal entities, including military commands on Redstone Arsenal.


The companies are located in Madison, Morgan, and Limestone counties, and pull their workforce from our 16-county region. Currently, approximately 25,000 people commute into these three counties daily, and this is where the primary job growth is anticipated. The interviews were organized around three topics: ■ Current Supply & Demand – labor issues that are impacting employer operations in the Huntsville region ■ Future Talent Supply & Demand – factors that may impact the sustainability of an employer’s future talent supply ■ Talent Draw – factors that impacted or may impact an employer’s ability to attract talent from outside the region

Bright Spots within the North Alabama Market The region has many bright spots for employment growth. The north Alabama region is home to a wide range of industries, with employers that are on the cutting edge of technology – as shown in the following infographic: – continued on page 20 A HUNTSVILLE/MADISON COUNTY CHAMBER PUBLICATION

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Continued from page 19 –


To the Numbers Simply put – what we’re doing is working. The majority of our companies are doing well, and 67 percent say they anticipate growing. The 94 companies interviewed report they will make approximately 14,000 new hires in the next three years, and these will stimulate another 11,000 indirect jobs such as restaurant servers, real estate agents, lawyers, and accountants to accommodate the growth. This adds up to 25,000 new jobs in the region by 2023. Deloitte estimates that if all those jobs were to be filled by people moving into the region and to account for those who have families, the influx of new people into the region could be 50,000. Those are big numbers. Companies made the decision to come to north Alabama because they wanted to expand and grow. They are doing that, and we will continue to support them. This is our commitment, to help them be successful. The findings of this study allow us to make sure we have the programs and infrastructure in place to address employers’ needs while preparing people to secure quality jobs. 20

initiatives dec 2019

It’s important to note that while the 14,000 jobs identified in this study will be added in the three-county study area, the population growth and increased quality of life will be spread among our 16-county laborshed.

Addressing This Growth Opportunity On November 13, regional partners gathered for a workforce summit at the Alabama Center for the Arts in Decatur. This meeting included elected leaders from Morgan, Limestone, and Madison counties, as well as regional Chambers and economic development stakeholders. The summit included a presentation on the workforce study by Darin Buelow, Global Location Strategy Leader for Deloitte. Buelow is a site selector and has studied Huntsville extensively over the years. “This is generally a good news story, with you needing to tweak some things to keep the ball rolling,” said Buelow. “This is a place that is at the envy of much of the economic development world in the United States.” – continued on page 23 A HUNTSVILLE/MADISON COUNTY CHAMBER PUBLICATION

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Continued from page 20 –

The labor study recommended three next steps: 1. Initiate a multi-year, multi-pronged approach to increase net migration This includes educational grants, home-buying subsidies, student loan support, diversifying the housing supply, and developing a nationally branded affinity marketing campaign about the Huntsville region. 2. Identify alternative approaches to finding in-demand talent This includes more communication among HR managers to prevent poaching of talent, and to learn what other markets HR managers have had success recruiting talent from to the Huntsville area. 3. Increase investment in early education The region must continue to invest in educating parents and students on the alternatives to a four-year degree; also, companies should collaborate to support programs at the high school and middle school levels to increase awareness and familiarity of skills in high demand (cyber, IT, applied engineering) – for example, more corporate support of FIRST Robotics teams and similar programs.


After the presentation, stakeholders were assigned to work in groups and discuss solutions. Ideas included more career coaches for schools, refining career tracks for students, and increasing overall quality of education. Many suggested increasing recruiting efforts in colleges throughout the Southeast and beyond by promoting recreation, entertainment and dining options as well as jobs. Others suggested finding creative solutions for childcare, housing and transportation issues to enable more people to enter the workforce.

What’s Happening Already? The labor study puts some definitive numbers to our projected growth, but this is a situation we planned for, so work has alA HUNTSVILLE/MADISON COUNTY CHAMBER PUBLICATION

ready begun. In 2018, the Huntsville/Madison County Chamber launched a campaign to prepare students for local career opportunities and to promote the region to college graduates, skilled workers, and retired military. The portal at includes a job site and a curriculum for the State’s required career prep class, taught mostly in ninth grade (see page 16). The job site and curriculum are free to employers, job seekers and teachers across the region. Also in 2018, the City of Huntsville unveiled The Big Picture (, its comprehensive master plan designed to direct the future of economic growth, neighborhood redevelopment, parks and greenways, transportation, and quality of life within Huntsville. And as early as 2013, Mayor Battle began the Restore Our Roads campaign and subsequent investments in infrastructure to position the City for our anticipated growth. Restore Our Roads resulted in a $250 million cost-sharing agreement between the City of Huntsville and the Alabama Department of Transportation to complete major road projects in key corridors throughout the City. In Decatur, the Best and Brightest ( studentloan repayment incentive provides up to $3,000 per year ($15,000 maximum) for STEM graduates to move to Decatur, regardless of where they work. The program also supports professional networking and community engagement for the graduates to help them make the most of their new home. And in Muscle Shoals, professionals in the tech industry who make more than $52,000 per year and can work remotely can get up to $10,000 for relocating to the Shoals. The program was developed to highlight the quality of place in the Shoals for workers who can choose to live anywhere. There is plenty more to come on this topic, and it will take the whole region working together to be successful. Look for updates very soon! – continued on page 24 dec 2019 initiatives


Continued from page 23 –

■ Story by Claire Aiello, Vice President, Marketing & Communications

“Growing our area to fill the jobs created by our economic success is a great problem to have. It’s a challenge we embrace as a regional team working through a strategic partnership plan, just as we have met challenges in the past –- by working together.”

“In today’s highly competitive economic climate, communities who are able to effectively demonstrate their ability to develop, grow and retain a qualified workforce is critical. TVA is proud to be a partner in assisting the region capitalize on the opportunities identified throughout the labor market study and further our mission to serve the people of the Valley by fostering economic growth.”


“Over the last several years our collaborative and calculated efforts to let the country and world know our capabilities here in Huntsville/Madison County has proven to be the right move. Deloitte’s workforce study concludes that our region’s efforts are producing quality jobs and careers for all of North Alabama that will sustain our economy for generations to come.”


“It remains a joy working with our regional partners as we continue planning and preparing for the workforce opportunities that will have an historic impact on our communities, economy and quality of life for years to come. Get ready to make new friends!”


“Each time the wonderful ‘problem’ of growth has occurred in our community we have answered the bell with positive results. Whether it was rocket engines in the 60s, BRAC wins in the 90s and 00s, or recent manufacturing growth, our community has defined what is needed and developed our plan for success.”


“We have been blessed with the recent creation of so many new jobs in our county. Limestone County stands ready to work with our regional partners to continue to grow and develop our strong and outstanding workforce that has earned global recognition.”


“The exciting growth coming to North Alabama makes us proud of our regional partnerships and eager for the opportunities we have all worked so hard to bring to fruition throughout our region.”



“Huntsville Utilities is very interested in our region’s labor needs because people fill jobs, and people live in homes and shop at businesses, and homes and businesses require a robust and resilient utility infrastructure. We are excited and challenged by the growth coming to our region, and Huntsville Utilities and our region’s other utility providers will rise to meet this challenge.”


“The opportunity we currently have as a region is a once-in-a-career moment. We must plan together and work as one to maximize this opportunity.”


"The region continues to find ways to collaborate together and find joint solutions to the great opportunities we have throughout the region. The economic success we are enjoying took years of thoughtful planning and hard work. Seeing our regional leaders focused on our workforce opportunities shows the strength of the relationships in place that will deliver on our workforce needs of today and in the future."


“Workforce attraction, retention and development is every bit as critical to the federal sector as it is to the commercial sector and that’s why I think it was important to include Redstone in the regional workforce assessment. Redstone Arsenal is growing significantly. The current workforce is over 41,000 with plans to grow to nearly 45,000 in the next few years. We’re delighted that the Alabama Military Stability Foundation was able to support this effort.”


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initiatives dec 2019


a new series of people making impacts in local colleges and universities

Dr. Patricia Sims J.F. Drake State Community and Technical College


r. Patricia Sims wants you to know she is ushering in a new era at Drake State. Sims has been president of the school for one year, and is working to improve different areas, including modernization of programs offered, more in-depth relationships with business and industry, and active community involvement. Sims brings 25 years of experience to the role, working in Huntsville City Schools as a teacher and an administrator. She also previously worked as Dean of Instructional and Student Services at Drake State, then at Athens State University as the Dean of Education for five years, before returning to Drake in the fall of 2018.

“Wherever I go, I try to leave something that will be sustainable and make the institution better. In my previous role at Drake State, I worked to get the college accredited regionally. It had technical accreditation, but not regional accreditation through the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS). When I went to Athens State, as the Dean of the College of Education, I started masters-level programs there. I’m still looking for the big thing here.” It is not lost on Sims that she follows four interim presidents in her role. She acknowledges the school has faced challenges, but says morale is up. “I sense that everyone in the college feels like we’re going in the A HUNTSVILLE/MADISON COUNTY CHAMBER PUBLICATION

right direction, and we’re going there together,” said Sims. “Absolutely the college has gone through change, but we are all looking forward now, reaching out to business and industry, and they are embracing and working with us. That boosts the morale of faculty and staff, and Sims for students to see prospective employers come to the college to see them – that validates the work we’re doing and the training they’re receiving. I think we’re definitely headed in the right direction as a team.” Sims says some of her immediate goals are to modernize and upgrade equipment in the classrooms. That’s in progress, too – Drake State has secured almost half a million dollars for the machining and tool shops, and the school recently hosted machine tool manufacturing businesses to give feedback on the labs as they work to get more students in these pipelines ready for the workforce. Toyota’s $200,000 donation earlier this year of two Corollas and 12 engines is a gamechanger for students in the automotive technology program. Mazda Toyota has also provided mechatronics trainers, and any student at Drake State who completes the Manufacturing Skills Standards Council (MSSC) Certified Production Technician (CPT) training, and earns the certificate, is guaranteed an interview with the company. Drake State offers the certification through its workforce development program. Students attend classes from Monday through Wednesday on campus, and this is strategic, so they can work the other days. This is especially beneficial for students who already have paid apprenticeships established with industry partners. “Our goal has been to align the training we offer with the needs of employers, so we can stand up our apprenticeships and internships,” said Sims. That type of partnership is already in place with Frank Williams Dealerships, for example. Students attend classes at Drake State the first part of the week, then work at the dealership the latter – continued on page 26 dec 2019 initiatives


Continued from page 25 –

“When we invite companies to see our campus, I think they are often surprised because of our diversity,” she said. “That’s reflected in our faculty, staff and student body. Our students are committed. The average student age is 28. They’ve lived, they’ve had experiences, so when they come to us, they want to get trained and get in the workforce so they can improve the quality of life for their families. They’re well trained, and when they arrive at the door of employers, they’re ready to go to work.” Drake State offers traditional enrollment (students who enter after graduating high school) as well as dual enrollment, adult education and workforce development. Dual enrollment in particular has grown -- some students ride buses from high schools, or faculty visit the high schools for instruction. In addition, you’ll find homeschool students on campus. half, getting on-the-job experience. “These are paid positions so that they can still support their families and continue their education,” said Sims. She adds, she wants to continue this trend for every student. “We don’t want students in welding working at McDonald’s,” Sims explained. “If you’re in welding, you should be working and training at a welding company. That’s the next big goal, to set up apprenticeship opportunities for each of our programs.”

Student Population What would Sims like employers to know about the students at Drake State?

Community Involvement & Future Plans Drake State is working to increase its visibility in the community and nearby schools, so K-12 students think of Drake State as an option for their future. Recently, students and faculty participated in a cleanup day at nearby Martin Luther King Elementary as part of the Clean Home Alabama initiative. Nursing students will also host their kiddie clinic with these younger students soon, and Drake State will invite MLK students to visit the campus and see the ViziTech laboratory. This investment offers 3D augmented and virtual reality learning programs, enhancing laboratory training experiences for students. The college also offers summer camps, and tries to target students in the nearby community whose par-

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Students at Drake State participate in paid apprenticeships at Frank Williams Dealerships, getting on-the-job training experience.

ents may not be able to afford a traditional summer camp. Sims also plans to expand the campus. Alabama A&M University recently gifted a parcel of land which will allow for Drake State to grow its presence on Meridian Street. That is a long-term goal, as Sims is currently focused on expanding programs as they stand to help meet current workforce demands. “There is a place for everyone here at Drake State. We’re here, we’re open, and we welcome people to come by and see the good

work we’re doing,” said Sims. “Our goal as Huntsville’s community college is to grow and expand and do our part. My position is that every business, every educational entity, has a part to play. We all have to work together to meet the goal of adding 500,000 skilled workers to the workforce by 2025. I want to make sure that Drake State does its part.” ■ Claire Aiello Vice President, Marketing & Communications

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PARSONS is a global company with over 14,000 employees and has been in business for over 75 years. Historically an infrastructure design engineering firm, over the last decade we have been deliberately building our defense business to diversify our offering to our clients through acquisitions including SPARTA, Secure Mission Solutions, Polaris Alpha, OGSystems, and QRC. We’ve transformed ourselves into a high-end provider of engineering services and solutions for the Department of Defense. With core competencies in systems engineering and cyber security with domain expertise in missile defense, space and C4ISR, we believe we have a lot to offer the Huntsville community. Q: What makes PARSONS stand out from your competitors? A: I think the primary discriminator is the diversity of our business. We have core competencies and depth of capability in so many different domains and markets ranging from cyber, space, missile defense, multi-domain command and control, electronic warfare, and infrastructure that we truly can bring PARSONS to bear on any client need. Q: What are the new challenges that have come up in your industry? A: Technically, the biggest challenge facing not only our industry but also our Nation is the hypersonic missile threat.

We are at the forefront in partnership with our customers to develop solutions that address the threat. The second challenge is the labor market. We’re finding it more and more important to develop a holistic approach to attracting the best talent in a market where unemployment is so low that includes not only competitive benefits and compensation, but also a work environment and culture that is attractive and separates us from our peers.

Q: What value does PARSONS gain from your HREGI investment? A: HREGI has been a great partner for us. We are continuing to strengthen the PARSONS brand in Huntsville. PARSONS acquired SPARTA several years ago. SPARTA had been in Huntsville for over 30 years and had strong name recognition within the community. The PARSONS brand is strong with the Missile Defense Agency, Missile and Space Intelligence Center, and Army Corps of Engineers (our core customers), but we continue to strengthen it across the community. Between networking events, assistance with different marketing initiatives we have, and helping us further our business objectives, HREGI has been by our side.

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Small Business Forum attracts hundreds for day of networking


The 2019 Small Business Forum attracted hundreds of representatives from businesses small and large to the Davidson Center for Space Exploration at the U.S. Space & Rocket Center to connect with professionals from the U.S. Army Engineering and Support Center, Huntsville, Oct. 24. In the main hall beneath one of the only authentic Saturn V launch vehicles in the world, a gathering of Huntsville Center contracting officials and program and project managers, representing more than 40 programs, were on hand to meet with industry partners to answer questions and explain how the Center does business. In the auditorium, Huntsville Center senior leaders provided guests an overarching view of the Center’s unique mission that covers five business portfolios (medical, base operations and facilities, energy, operational technology, and environmental), along with panel discussions, question-and-answer sessions, and a close look at the acquisition process.



initiatives dec 2019

“Huntsville Center is all in today,” Col. Marvin L. Griffin, Huntsville Center commander told attendees at the event kickoff. “We’ve got a lot of key folks here, so take advantage of the opportunity.” Woven into Griffin’s overview was the Center’s historical timeline illustrating why the Center operates the way it does and how businesses play a key role. “The common thread here is that it’s constantly evolved over time as new needs arose, new requirements have come up in highly technical, very specialized areas,” he said. “Where it made sense, Huntsville Center picked up those missions with all the capabilities and technical expertise. “We rely on industry as we develop those technical competencies,” Griffin continued, “and the contract capabilities to make these services and capabilities work for our warfighters and our nation.” In fiscal 2019, Huntsville Center directed awards valued at more than $791 million to small businesses with more than 2,420 contract actions. As in years past, many of these businesses were local to the Huntsville area. Rebecca Goodsell, chief, Office of Small Business, said Huntsville Center’s policy is focused on providing “maximum practicable” prime and subcontracting opportunities to small firms. “Small businesses are the economic growth engine for America,” Goodsell said. “Small businesses provide jobs, innovation and competition in industry.” ■ Stephen Baack

U.S. Army Engineering and Support Center, Huntsville public affairs A HUNTSVILLE/MADISON COUNTY CHAMBER PUBLICATION


Madison City of City of Huntsville County Huntsville Madison Metro Area

2010 Census


180,105 42,938


2018 Census est.


199,808 50,440


% Growth





COMMUNITY PROFILE Top Ten Employers: Huntsville & Madison County Redstone Arsenal* . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 37,000* Huntsville Hospital System . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 9,228 NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center* . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 6,500

Households & Income # of Households


Avg. Household Income Per Capita Income

Huntsville City Schools . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3,000




$79,715 $115,779


SAIC . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2,746


$34,089 $43,917


Madison County Schools . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2,389

As of November 2019


Sources: U.S. Census Bureau (, 2018 American Community Survey Estimates

The Boeing Company . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2,900

City of Huntsville . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2,206 Dynetics, Inc. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2,030 The University of Alabama in Huntsville . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1,660 Source: Huntsville/Madison County Chamber *includes on-site contractors

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. More than 43,500 people work at Redstone Arsenal and NASA, managing some of the country’s most important and sophisticated technology programs including missiles, aviation, and space exploration.

Research & Technology For more information, visit:


Huntsville’s Cummings Research Park has earned a reputation as a global leader in technology development. The second-largest science and technology research park in the U.S., Cummings Research Park is home to nearly 300 companies and 26,500 people involved in technology research and development.

dec 2019 initiatives


HPD offers class on responding to active shooter


or years, the Huntsville Police Department has taught a class to citizens about responding to an active shooter. After the Virginia Tech shooting in 2007, the FBI developed a program called C.R.A.S.E. (Civilian Response to Active Shooter Event), and police departments across the country began to incorporate the class as a way to respond to community questions and concerns. Police departments selected officers to become certified to teach this program to citizens in order to help them recognize the signs leading up to an event and how to respond if they were ever involved in one. Here is the premise of the program: (1) Avoid the attacker; (2)Deny the attacker entry into your location; and (3) Defend yourself and others against the attacker. Officers in the Huntsville Police Department have taught classes for countless businesses, churches, and individual groups over the past several years. The instruction covers potential warning signs of an active shooter event, as well as different techniques on how to respond to the situation. Officers instruct class attendees how to more efficiently barricade themselves in a safe location, and also cover different exit strategies in order to safely avoid an attacker. Officers also teach citizens on what to expect if they choose to defend themselves against an attacker. Attendees learn what to expect when officers arrive on scene during the event, and they also receive instruction on how to react when officers arrive if they are legally carrying a firearm to ensure their safety and the safety of the officers. “Today, nothing shocks the conscience more than being caught up in an active shooter event,” said Sergeant Grady Thigpen, one of the instructors. “There are critical moments during an active shooting event, prior to first responder arrival, that citizens can minimize injuries and help us save lives. We are proud to continue this class in educating our community about these techniques. A prepared community is a safer community.” Huntsville Police have partnered with Bullet and Barrel to teach the class at their facility, as well as other locations. If you would like to attend a C.R.A.S.E. class, please call your local precinct for further details: North Precinct: 256-746-4111 ■ South Precinct: 256-213-4500 ■ West Precinct: 256-427-5461 ■ Michael C. Johnson, Community Relations Officer, Huntsville Police Department


initiatives dec 2019


The Schools Foundation serves as an education advocate and provides a central voice for strategic engagement on many of the current and pressing issues impacting our public schools.


Making the Grade Looking at education via school report cards


oes it feel like there is an education announcement every day once school starts? We are nearly halfway through the current school year, and students aren’t the only ones taking home report cards. This is the third year Alabama has published report cards showing how our public schools are doing. The state receives a grade, as does each school district and school. The latest report card was released in October and uses data from the 2018-19 school year, except in the case of graduation rates and college and career readiness, which are from the 201718 school year. Schools without a 12th grade are measured on Academic Achievement, Academic Growth, Progress in English Language Proficiency and Chronic Absenteeism. Schools with a 12th grade use the same measurements as well as College and Career Readiness indicators and Graduation Rate. If you haven’t heard, grades are up! Madison City Schools scored an A, Madison County Schools also scored an A, Huntsville City Schools scored a B, and Alabama schools overall scored a B. There is still hard work ahead. Let’s take a peek into each system. This is Madison City’s third year to receive an A. In this system, with slightly more than 11,000 students, every school in the system received an A. Only eight of the 137 Alabama school districts can claim this unique distinction. “We celebrate this with a commitment that we will never become complacent where we are. We will constantly seek ways to improve,” said Superintendent Robby Parker. Madison County Schools moved up to an A on this year’s report card. Across the system, 10 schools increased their scores and they have seen consistent improvement. More than 19,000 students attend Madison County Schools. Huntsville City, the largest district in our area with 24,000 students, earned a B. Nearly 90 percent of schools in the district saw an increase on their individual report cards, with 15 schools increasing by an entire letter grade. Last year, Huntsville City Schools adopted indicators of future success that utilize accountability measures from the report card as well as additional layers for continuous improvement. Superintendent Christie Finley credits her teachers “who work diligently to ensure our students are achieving at high levels.” The mantra of “continuous improvement” is one you will hear if you spend any time in our local schools and systems. School leaders and teachers are looking at the data and most importantly, they strive to meet the needs of individual students to prepare them for their futures. A HUNTSVILLE/MADISON COUNTY CHAMBER PUBLICATION

When looking at trends statewide, our largest school systems, Huntsville City included, have the widest ranging letter grades between schools. Additionally, an achievement gap based on race, poverty, students with disabilities and English Language learners still exists. Together, we can do more to support all students and it is important to recognize and celebrate these opportunities.

One effective tool in the toolbox to address the achievement gap is to support and grow the number of National Board Certified Teachers (NBCT) in our schools. The Schools Foundation and the Committee of 100 are working to do just that. Recently, the two organizations announced raising nearly $200,000 to sponsor 100 teachers across the three local systems. The National Board for Professional Teaching Standards said this initiative is the first and largest effort nationwide by the business community to fund board-certified teachers in public schools. On average, students taught by National Board Certified teachers show gains of one to two months of learning over students in other classrooms. For every $1 invested in National Board Certified Teachers there is a $31 return on that investment. The goal is big, to ensure funding to sponsor 22 percent of teachers interested in going through this rigorous and rewarding process. The impact of scaling up the number of NBC teachers across our schools will have a domino effect in classrooms across Madison County for years to come. ■ Elizabeth Fleming Executive Director, The Schools Foundation dec 2019 initiatives



Huntsville/Madison County Chamber

STA FF Executive Staff

Chip Cherry, CCE, president & CEO Meghan Chambliss, executive assistant

Economic Development, Industry Relations & Workforce Lucia Cape, CCE, senior vice president Erin Koshut, executive director, Cummings Research Park Katelyn Sides Baker, workforce recruitment director Lydia Pennington, industry relations director John Roberts, economic development project director Ken Smith, research & information services director Julia Kaye, marketing & events coordinator

Government & Public Affairs Mike Ward, CCE, senior vice president Amberly Ware, events coordinator

BMSS, LLC is Proud to Welcome New Member


Marketing & Communications Claire Aiello, vice president Kristi Sherrard, graphic designer Hiroko Sedensky, web designer

Small Business & Events Pammie Jimmar, IOM, vice president Devon Elston, coordinator

Finance & Administration Mary McNairy, vice president Kim Weeks, accounting specialist – receivables Lori Warner, accounting specialist – payables Joe Watson, facilities supervisor Savannah Pedersen, resource desk coordinator

Membership Amber Greenwood, vice president, investor relations Kristy Drake, director, investor relations & ChamberON Donna McCrary, retention manager Richard Bigoney, account executive Tina Blankenship, account executive

Chamber Foundation Georgina Chapman, workforce development director Kent Ballard, workforce education specialist

Huntsville/Madison County Chamber 225 Church Street NW, Huntsville, AL 35801 phone 256-535-2000 | fax 256-535-2015

Associated Organizations


initiatives dec 2019


2019 State of the City Address A

nother sold out event is in the books! On Tuesday, Nov. 5, we were honored to host Mayor Tommy Battle’s 2019 State of the City Address at the Von Braun Center. More than 1,200 guests were greeted to live music performed by the Hampton Cove Middle School Jazz band. Skilled local musicians, like these students, were a major focus of Mayor Battle’s update. He spoke of the importance of the music audit, and surprised the audience with a beautiful performance by local musician Victoria Jones as she sang her original song, “Be Bold”. A thriving music scene in Huntsville helps retain the bright young people graduating from our schools, and helps keep our

local culture alive. Mayor Battle presented updates on how Huntsville is growing and flourishing. He reassured that amidst all our growth, we are still striving to maintain excellent quality of life. It’s this forward-looking attitude that allows Huntsville to continue to grow and be the place we all call home. Many thanks to our sponsors who helped make this amazing event happen, and many more thanks to Mayor Battle and the City of Huntsville for giving us a fantastic update! ■ Amberly Ware Events Coordinator, Government & Public Affairs

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Profile for Huntsville/Madison County Chamber

Initiatives - December 2019  

Wheels in Motion: Workforce study reveals renewed focus for north Alabama

Initiatives - December 2019  

Wheels in Motion: Workforce study reveals renewed focus for north Alabama