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Since first putting down roots in Alabama in 1870, Bradley has grown to serve our clients’ changing needs. With nearly 550 attorneys in 10 offices, Bradley is strategically located across the highest economic growth region of the country – providing timely and costeffective services when and where our clients need us. Bradley is a national law firm with a global perspective. We represent clients in Huntsville, North Alabama, the U.S. and around the world with critical legal capabilities in a broad range of industries. Clients depend on us for innovative solutions, dependable responsiveness, and a deep commitment to success. Our Huntsville attorneys go above and beyond expectations to help our clients achieve their goals.




Named U.S. “Law Firm of the Year” for Construction Law for 2018 & 2020 by U.S. News & World Report



Represent six of the 10 largest banks and 16 of the 20 largest mortgage servicers in the U.S.


Handled economic development projects that invested $25 billion and created 30,000+ jobs in 30+ states


Ranked the 14th largest healthcare law firm in the U.S. by Modern Healthcare


Attorneys from across all offices listed in The Best Lawyers in America® for 2020

bradley.com | BIRMINGHAM | CHARLOTTE | DALLAS | HOUSTON | HUNTSVILLE | JACKSON | MONTGOMERY | NASHVILLE | TAMPA | WASHINGTON, D.C. 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, Esq., 256.517.5142, fcaprio@bradley.com, Bradley Arant Boult Cummings LLP, 200 Clinton Avenue West, Suite 900, Huntsville, AL 35801. ©2020

BEST Regional Hospital and #2 in Alabama

The evaluation also includes data from Madison Hospital and Huntsville Hospital for Women & Children.

welcome new chamber members

Joined in September 2020 Acquisition Integration LLC Best Care of North Alabama, LLC Blake Williams Communications Corporate Ready, LLC The Flower Shoppe JS Solutions LLC Kenny Pipe & Supply Inc. MAC3 Defense, Inc. North Alabama Zoological Society Sain Associates, Inc. Twickenham Holdings LLC Universal Services, LLC Viva Health

MEMBERS: Please check out getyourgifton.org – a website to support gift card purchases through our local restaurants and retail stores. It is FREE to list your business there. The link to add is at the very top of the site, as well as a link to set up gift cards if you don’t currently offer these. Also consider visiting and buying a gift card.

Joined in October 2020 Accenture Federal Services All In Solutions, LLC BAMF Global Technologies, Inc. Bin There Dump That Blake Willson Group Chari Real Estate Investment, LLC Dennen IP Law LLC Full Moon BBQ Huntsville Neurology Institute of Huntsville, Inc. NTS - National Technical Systems Premier Luxury Transportation Raymond James & Associates RE/MAX Alliance / Harrison-Dolman Team SafeSpray Pest Control Sanoh America Signal 88 Security of Huntsville

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 dmccrary@hsvchamber.org.

Teksouth Corporation United Entertainment Group Windham Travel & Leisure








EXECUTIVE COUNCIL BBVA ■ Corporate Office Properties Trust (COPT) ■ Crestwood Medical Center ■ Dynetics, Inc. General Atomics Electromagnetics ■ Lockheed Martin Corporation ■ Northrop Grumman Corporation Raytheon Technologies ■ 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. ■ Facebook Data Center 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 ■ Aerojet Rocketdyne ■ Anglin Reichmann Armstrong ■ ASRC Federal ■ BB&T, now Truist ■ B. L. Harbert International, LLC ■ Baron Services, Inc. ■ BASF Corporation Bradley Arant Boult Cummings LLP ■ Brown Precision, Inc. ■ CenterState Bank ■ Colliers International ■ Connected Logistics (LogC2) ■ Davidson ■ Huntsville Tractor & Equipment, Inc. IBERIABANK ■ Keel Point, LLC ■ L3Harris ■ Leonardo Electronics US Inc. ■ LSINC Corporation ■ Marsh & McLennan Agency, locally known as J. Smith Lanier & Co. The Orthopaedic Center (TOC) ■ Progress Bank ■ Radiance Technologies ■ RE/MAX Alliance ■ Robins & Morton ■ RUAG Space USA ■ Spirit Coach, LLC Steak-Out (Rosie’s Restaurants, Inc., & Right Way Restaurants, Inc.) ■ Verizon ■ Wells Fargo Bank ■ Woody Anderson Ford PROGRESS INVESTORS 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 Bell Textron Inc. ■ BID DESIGNS, LLC ■ BRPH Architects-Engineers, Inc. ■ Bryant Bank ■ Cadence Bank ■ Canvas, Inc. ■ CB&S Bank ■ Century Automotive ■ CFD Research Corporation ■ CGI Federal ■ Coast Personnel Services Continental Consulting Group Corporation (CCGC) ■ DC BLOX, Inc. ■ deciBel Research ■ Deloitte LLP ■ DESE Research, Inc. ■ Express Employment Professionals ■ Fernandez Financial Group ■ FITE Building Company FLS Translation & Interpreting ■ Fountain, Parker, Harbarger & Associates, LLC ■ Freedom Real Estate & Capital, LLC ■ Garver ■ Hexagon US Federal ■ HEMSI ■ Hiley Automotive Group ■ Huntsville Botanical Garden Huntsville/Madison County Convention & Visitors Bureau ■ INTERFUZE Corporation ■ Investor’s Resource ■ IronMountain Solutions ■ Legend Realty – Jim Hoekenschneider ■ The Lioce Group, Inc. ■ MAG Aerospace ■ MSB Analytics, Inc. nLogic, LLC ■ PALCO ■ PHOENIX ■ Pinnacle Solutions, Inc. ■ PROJECTXYZ, Inc. ■ QTEC Aerospace ■ Quadrus Corporation ■ Renasant Bank ■ RJ Young Company ■ Rosenblum Realty ■ S&ME, Inc. ■ Schoel Engineering Company, Inc. ServisFirst Bank ■ Sigmatech, Inc. ■ Signalink ■ Snelling ■ Systems Products and Solutions, Inc. ■ TriVector Services, Inc. ■ Troy 7, Inc. ■ ValleyMLS.com ■ Valor Communities ■ Van Valkenburgh & Wilkinson Properties Inc. Venturi, Inc. ■ Volkert, Inc. ■ Warren Averett, LLC ■ West Huntsville Land Co., Inc. ■ Wilmer & Lee, P.A.


dec 2020 initiatives


WE’RE ALL IN THIS TOGETHER Unprecedented Times. Unwavering Commitment. Throughout the SBA Paycheck Protection Program (SBA PPP) process, Bank Independent was there working tirelessly to help customers navigate the everchanging landscape of rules and requirements.

The task

was daunting, but our goal was to help local, small businesses keep their team members employed during challenging times. We’re proud to celebrate over 1,600 successful SBA PPP approved applications totaling over $119 million protecting over 17,000 jobs in the community. We are committed to providing outstanding customer service as we continue to monitor the program and the current economic climate. When local small business succeeds, we all succeed. Weathering uncertainties. Welcome home to Bank Independent.

BIBANK.COM | MEMBER FDIC | 877.865.5050

dec 2020




■ Drake State team to research 3D printing technologies for NASA

■ Large, small businesses reap benefits in Mentor-Protégé program

■ Blue Origin’s ‘Club for the Future’ inspires students about Space

Encouraging shoppers to support our local merchants this holiday season – in this issue we profile eight local small retailers: what they provide and how you can help

PAGES 16-18

PAGES 20-26

PAGES 30-32









13 HREGI PROFILE: Huntsville/Madison County Convention & Visitors Bureau

14 27

29 33 34 35 36 37

HUNTSVILLE: A CITY IN THE MAKING: Part 6 – with Loretta Spencer



RECORD TURNOUT: State and local elections update

REDSTONE UPDATE: Chamber hosts virtual informational sessions

SPONSOR THANKS: 2021’s State of the County and State of the Schools




“TRY HUNTSVILLE”: City earns several national media rankings during 2020

■ Students learn, companies mentor through local AAMU internships

editorial staff publisher

Chip Cherry, CCE editor

Claire Aiello editorial designer

Kristi Sherrard contributing writers

Katelyn Sides Baker Sarah Blackmon Pammie Jimmar Julia Kaye Wendy Reeves Deborah Storey Mike Ward

ad sales Kristy Drake kdrake@hsvchamber.org

Richard Bigoney rbigoney@hsvchamber.org

Tina Blankenship tblankenship@hsvchamber.org

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

HSVchamber.org (additional contact information on page 38) Chamber members: You are encouraged to contribute ideas for our publications, including Initiatives magazine. Please send items to comms@hsvchamber.org. The Huntsville/Madison County Chamber maintains editorial control. A HUNTSVILLE/MADISON COUNTY CHAMBER PUBLICATION

dec 2020 initiatives


Huntsville/Madison County Chamber

Executive Committee and Board of Directors 2020 Executive Committee

Kevin Byrnes, Chair, Navigator International, LLC Jeff Gronberg, Chair-elect, deciBel Research, Inc. Kim Lewis, Immediate Past Chair, PROJECTXYZ, Inc. Ron Poteat, President, Chamber Foundation, Regions Bank Laura Huckabee-Jennings, Secretary/Treasurer, Transcend LLC

Greg Brown, Vice Chair, Economic Development & Industry Relations, Brown Precision, Inc.

A Message from

Chip Cherry

Dear Chamber Investors, Community Leaders, and Friends: I love Mayor Battle’s line from his State of the City address – “If 2020 were a fish, I would throw it back!” However, the hidden blessing of 2020 is how our community has responded to the crisis and the appreciation we have gained for many of the things that we have taken for granted. As we enter the holiday season, I encourage you to put on your mask and shop small. Target buying as many of your gifts locally as you can. Your effort will make a huge difference in the lives of our neighbors. Our small businesses are the heart of our community – supporting little league teams, the arts, and numerous nonprofits. Many of these small businesses are struggling because of the pandemic, and your support will help them weather the storm. Please take the time to shop local to find that perfect gift or order a carryout meal – your support will mean more than you will ever know! With this issue, we start a series of profiles about the winners of this year’s Small Business Awards. The series will run until we have covered all of our winners. These are an amazing group of women and men, and I know you will enjoy learning more about them. On October 20, we lost a wonderful person, a tireless supporter of educators, and Huntsville’s First Lady. I met Eula Battle when I joined Leadership’s Class 26. She was full of energy and had a wonderful laugh. During the introduction exercise, she gave me the nickname of Charming Chip Cherry of the Chamber of Commerce – one she would use many times over the years that followed our graduation. I treasured our friendship and will miss her. Godspeed Eula! I am very thankful for the technology that is allowing us to stay connected with our family and friends during the pandemic. The ability to FaceTime or video conference with those who are special to us has taken some of the sting out of the separation we are forced to endure to protect others. Smiles and laughter are still great for the soul – even when they are virtual. On behalf of the Chamber Team – our volunteers and staff – I wish you a healthy and blessed Holiday Season!

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


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Craig Naudain, Vice Chair, Government & Public Affairs, SAIC Jim Rogers, Vice Chair, HREGI, Lockheed Martin Corporation Frank Williams, Vice Chair, Marketing & Communications, Landers McLarty Dodge Chrysler Jeep

Lynn Troy, Vice Chair, Investor Relations, Troy 7, Inc. Sameer Singhal, Vice Chair, Small Business & Events, CFD Research Corporation

Joe Ritch, Vice Chair, Tennessee Valley BRAC, Sirote & Permutt, PC

Dr. Karockas Watkins, Vice Chair, Workforce, Ability Plus, Inc. Dr. Joe Green, Chair-Appointed, Whitespace Innovations, Inc. Alicia Ryan, Chair-Appointed, LSINC Corporation Mike Watkins, Chair-Appointed, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Alabama

Mayor Tommy Battle, ex-officio member, City of Huntsville Mayor Paul Finley, ex-officio member, City of Madison Chairman Dale Strong, ex-officio member, Madison County Commission

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

Elected Board Blake Bentley, SportsMED Orthopaedic Surgery and Spine Center David Bier, Anglin Reichmann Armstrong, P.C. Penny Billings, BancorpSouth - Huntsville Thomas Busby, CenterState Bank Melissa Davis, MTA, Inc. Mike Dewitz, PARSONS John Eagan, BB&T Kevin Fernandez, Fernandez Financial Group, LLC Owen Franklin, Blue Summit Supplies Joni Green, Five Stones Research Corporation John Hall, All Points Logistics, LLC Ginger Harper, IBERIABANK Josh Herren, Yulista Lee Holland, Freedom Real Estate and Capital, LLC Tharon Honeycutt, MSB Analytics, Inc. Amanda Howard, Amanda Howard | Sotheby’s International Realty

Lincoln Hudson, Booz Allen Hamilton, Inc. Hank Isenberg, IronMountain Solutions McKinley James, Polaris Industries, Inc. Lauren Johannesmeyer, Google Fiber, Huntsville Sean Kelly, Regions Bank April Mason, Toyota Motor Manufacturing Alabama, Inc. Todd May, KBR Bob McCaleb, Northrop Grumman Corporation Kevin McCombs, Teledyne Brown Engineering, Inc. Alana Parker, Rocket City Drywall & Supply, Inc. Zack Penney, Bill Penney Toyota/Mitsubishi Jami Peyton, Canvas, Inc. Chris Russell, Cadence Bank Jeff Samz, Huntsville Hospital Beth Sippel, Synovus Wayne Sisco, Redstone Federal Credit Union Tom Stanton, ADTRAN, Inc. Sandra Stephens, Keel Point, LLC Mitch Stevison, Raytheon Technologies Cynthia Streams, Domino's (Valley Pizza, Inc.) Margetta Thomas, HudsonAlpha Institute for Biotechnology Ken Tucker, The Boeing Company John Watson, Torch Technologies Danny Windham, HudsonAlpha Institute for Biotechnology A HUNTSVILLE/MADISON COUNTY CHAMBER PUBLICATION

IF IT’S AN EMERGENCY, YOU AREN’T SAFER AT HOME. We know you are concerned about your health. We are, too. And if you experience sudden symptoms of an emergency, getting fast medical care could save your life. We are taking extraordinary precautions to be sure our emergency room and other care settings are safe. So, don’t delay care in an emergency. If you experience chest pain, sudden dizziness, weakness or numbness in your arms or legs, severe abdominal pain, high fever, or any other symptoms of a possible medical emergency, seek emergency care immediately.

Learn how we’re keeping patients safe. Visit CrestwoodMedCenter.com/COVID-19

In an emergency, call 911.


Compiled by Claire Aiello

Australian-owned and operated Defense and Space company that has designed, manufactured, and delivered advanced technology systems for 35 years. ■


Mazda Toyota Manufacturing reveals new corporate logo

SNAP: The city is abuzz about Trader Joe’s, which will be located in the MidCity District along University Drive. This is the grocery franchise’s second Alabama store and it is expected to open sometime in 2021. MidCity is a mixed-use community at the site of the former Madison Square Mall. National names such as Topgolf, Dave & Buster’s, High Point Climbing and Fitness, REI Co-op and The Camp are already open. A hotel is on the way, as well as a Wahlburgers, plus the city’s upscale amphitheatre, estimated at about $40 million. ■

EOS unveils first R400 remote weapons station produced in Huntsville

Mazda Toyota Manufacturing has revealed its new corporate logo, which included an extensive design process and solicited the collaboration and support of the company’s entire team – from production employees to executive officers – to ensure meaning was built in to nearly every facet of the design. The new logo was developed in partnership with local marketing agency Red Sage Communications of Decatur, Ala. “The MTM logo represents our commitment to serve as a hometown company while motivating our team to build the highest quality products for our customers every day,” said company spokeswoman Toni Eberhart. The logo is rich in symbolism. Of note, the colors: the primary red combines the reds used by the State of Alabama, Toyota red, and Mazda Soul Red. The blue is reminiscent of the sky and water, showing the company’s commitment to environmental stability. The gray complements the other colors and represents calmness, stability, and wisdom – reflecting MTM’s respect for people, kaizen (a Japanese term meaning continuous improvement), and following standardized work. ■

Huntsville named in inaugural cohort of the Tennessee RiverTowns Program Huntsville is one of 15 Tennessee River communities that have been selected for the inaugural cohort of the Tennessee RiverTowns Program, beginning its journey to become an official Tennessee RiverTown and part of the Tennessee RiverLine, North America’s next great regional trail system. Brandi Quick, executive director of Ditto Landing, as well as Huntsville City Council President Dr. Jennie Robinson and other community leaders, gathered at Ditto Landing on October 22 to share the announcement. “As Huntsville’s gateway to the Tennessee River, Ditto Landing is always encouraging residents and visitors to enjoy the river whenever they can,” said Quick. “The Tennessee RiverTowns Program will enhance this effort by providing access to activities and events in cities, towns, and communities along the river, while also encouraging visitation to Huntsville.”

EOS Defense Systems USA, Inc. (EOSDS USA) held an event on October 29 to celebrate its growth as well as the unveiling of the first R400 produced in Huntsville, Ala. “It is critically important that what we do is offered to the members of our Armed Forces. This is a gamechanger,” said Phil Coker, Brigadier General (Ret.) and CEO of EOSDS USA. Company representatives joined in the event virtually from Australia and Tucson, Ariz., as well as Ambassador Arthur Sinodinos, Australian Ambassador to the United States, from Washington, D.C. Alabama Governor Kay Ivey and Alabama Secretary of Commerce Greg Canfield also shared remarks and congratulated the company on its milestones so far. Recently, EOSDS USA announced it had finalized a contract to deliver its principle Remote Weapons Station (RWS), the R400S Mk2 D, to the U.S. Army Combat Capabilities Development Command Armaments Center Joint Center of Excellence for Lethality at Picatinny Arsenal. The company started with six employees a little less than three years ago and has now grown to 56 in Huntsville. It is located in an 80,000-square-foot production facility on Wall Triana Highway adjacent to the U.S. Army’s Redstone Arsenal. EOSDS USA is a subsidiary of the Australian company Electro Optics Systems, a leading 10

initiatives dec 2020

Huntsville applied to be a part of the Tennessee RiverTowns Program in order to emphasize the beauty and wellness that can be experienced by enjoying the Tennessee River. As Huntsville continues to thrive, its residents, as well as those in neighboring areas, are frequently looking for outdoor spaces to relax, exercise, and spend time with friends and – continued on page 12 A HUNTSVILLE/MADISON COUNTY CHAMBER PUBLICATION

Women in Business Nancy Dollar Senior Vice President, Commercial Banking Group Manager for North Alabama

Nancy joined IBERIABANK in April 2018 as a Commercial Banking Relationship Manager. In her new role, she will manage the Commercial Banking team and focus on growth holistically for Huntsville and the surrounding areas. Nancy has over 24 years of banking experience across a number of different industries. Aside from her responsibilities at the Bank, Nancy also serves the community by giving of her time and talent. She is on the board of the WEDC Foundation and the Madison Chamber of Commerce Board and is a graduate of the Leadership Greater Huntsville - Class 33. “We are thrilled to promote one of our very own from within! Nancy’s experience, work ethic and client focus made our decision very easy. As a company that places great emphasis on diversity and inclusion, it is an honor to see Nancy, a strong businesswoman, succeed in the workplace. She will lead our Commercial Banking team to new heights,” says Eric Sanders, EVP, Huntsville Market President.

IBERIABANK, a division of First Horizon Bank


Economic Development Highlights continued –

family. This program offers an opportunity for visitors and residents to seek out activities in communities and towns along the Tennessee River, including Huntsville. Through its participation, Huntsville will leverage the program’s geographic reach and national visibility to position itself as a premier destination for outdoor tourism, recreation, and watersports. By joining the Tennessee RiverTowns Program, Huntsville is taking its first step to becoming an official Tennessee RiverTown, part of the Tennessee RiverLine, which is a vision for a continuous system of paddling, hiking, and biking experiences along the Tennessee River’s 652-mile reach. This transformative initiative is led by the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, in collaboration with the Tennessee RiverLine Partnership. River communities that are invested as part of the Tennessee RiverLine benefit from economic development and entrepreneurship opportunities, quality of life amenities, and increased access to river experiences that improve public health and generations of river advocates that are active participants in its stewardship. To learn more about the Tennessee RiverLine, stay up to date with programs and initiatives by following on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram (@tnriverline) and visiting www. tnriverline.org. ■

SmartAsset: Huntsville’s housing market healthy According to a study by New York-based SmartAsset, Huntsville’s housing market is the healthiest in the state and ranked 26th nationally. Not too far behind, Harvest is ranked 50th nationally. The tracker factors in four healthy-housing indicators: stability, risk, ease of sale, and affordability. SmartAsset says a healthy housing market is both “stable and affordable,” adding that homeowners in a healthy market should be able to easily sell their homes with a low risk of losing money over the long run. ■

New $50M event center at AAMU under construction Plans will soon become reality for a $50 million addition at Alabama A&M University (AAMU). Turner Construction began work in late October on the new 132,000-square-foot event center and arena on campus. The new space will include an arena with a 6,000-person capacity, locker rooms, training rooms, a Hall of Fame honoring former AAMU student athletes, and a kitchen with the capability to provide meals for all events on campus. The arena will host sporting events such as basketball and volleyball games, student graduation ceremonies, and other university functions. The university has previously rented offsite facilities for these activities. “The center will provide the university with a much-needed facility where we can host major functions, such as commencements, convocations, our annual scholarship gala, and athletic events,” said Andrew Hugine, Jr., president of Alabama A&M University. “It will be a state-of-the-art facility just off of North Memorial Parkway, and we are thrilled to be making this addition for our students and the community, which will transform the landscape of north Huntsville.” The project is expected to be complete by 2022. ■

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initiatives dec 2020




PROFILE Q: COVID-19 has brought so many challenges – what’s your perspective on what others might not realize? A: 2019 was a record-setting year for the tourism and hospitality industry in Huntsville/Madison County. Madison County was the second most visited county in the state, second only to the Gulf Coast resort area of Baldwin County. More than 3.6 million visitors spent an estimated $1.6 billion in Madison County alone. Total employment in the hospitality industry was nearly 19,000 jobs. In mid-March, hotel occupancy levels plummeted resulting in staff furloughs and layoffs. Reduced restaurant capacities have made it difficult for restaurants to do a sufficient volume of business to keep wait and kitchen staffs. The cost of personal protective equipment and enhanced cleaning, safety and health measures can result in higher food costs or reduced services. Q: Where do things stand now for our local hospitality industry? A: Things are improving. Business is picking up for hotels, as people become more comfortable with travel and sanitization efforts. Occupancy levels vary widely within our community. Citywide occupancy has recently risen to 57 percent, as compared to 20-30 percent in April and May. When these levels rise and stabilize, it should signal the hiring of more staff. An added challenge is that many furloughed employees have found employment outside of the hospitality industry. The case is similar for restaurants. Once the restrictions are eased, staff levels can be increased. Until then, restaurants are working harder and smarter to stay in business. Local attractions are also pivoting to adjust to changes in travel during the pandemic. The U.S. Space & Rocket Center is offering unique experiences, like virtual reality snorkeling and underwater astronaut training. While many of these experiences will be offered for a limited time, some could be added to the list of optional activities available to USSRC visitors looking for a next-level experience. Visitor numbers are down for all attractions. Due to the closure of schools, the education market was non-existent in the spring. To increase visitor confidence and comply with state guidelines, attractions implemented changes to include timed tickets, touch-free admission, and limited capacity for special events. The CVB continues to work with meeting planners to bring conferences, trade shows, sports tournaments and meetings to our community as soon as the participants and organizers are ready. We are concentrating on state and regional groups, as well as leisure travelers within driving distance. Air travel continues to increase and we’re optimistic that trend will continue. The return to travel for federal government employees will have an immediate positive impact on the entire local hospitality industry. Madison County’s hospitality industry is growing with new hotels under construction, the amphitheater plans and unique venues like Campus #805, MidCity, and Stovehouse adding tenants. We are very optimistic and working every day toward a bigger and better future. Q: How can people reading this help? A: Support local businesses.

If you’re responsible for planning employee holiday gift-giving, consider providing gift cards from local restaurants, attraction passes, tickets to events or a unique item from an attraction gift shop. If your business sends gifts to clients, buy local. Invite family and friends for a holiday visit. Galaxy of Lights, Skating in the Park, the downtown Tinsel Trail and the new Christmas Spectacular at Toyota Field are all fantastic family-friendly and socially-distanced events. The Huntsville Museum of Art has a Gloria Vanderbilt exhibition which is another great option for locals and visitors alike. Buy attraction memberships for yourself. Gift a membership or class to friends and family members for an unforgettable experience. Order take-out or dine-in at a locally owned restaurant. Several restaurants and meeting venues will offer holiday meal take-out. Consider a staycation at one of the local hotels. The Visitor Center at 500 Church Street has a nice selection of items that make great hostess gifts and stocking stuffers. Let the CVB assist you in bringing a family reunion, church meeting, convention or trade show here in the future. Our team of experienced professionals will make it easy, and you’ll be helping the entire community! A HUNTSVILLE/MADISON COUNTY CHAMBER PUBLICATION

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HUNTSVILLE: A CITY IN THE MAKING, PART 6 A year-long look at the unique history of Huntsville/Madison County and moving forward into 2020 and beyond.

Loretta Spencer

Understanding Culture Planning ahead, being prepared helps progress happen oretta Spencer became the first woman mayor in Huntsville and any major Alabama city when she was elected in 1996, using her unique attention to detail, business acumen and a healthy dose of southern charm to spur growth. Spencer is a former school teacher and was also the first woman on the Planning Commission. She is one of five diverse and influential leaders the Huntsville/Madison County Chamber is featuring in a special series of stories throughout 2020 called, “Huntsville: A City in the Making.” Others include Julian Butler; W.F. Sanders, Jr.; Hundley Batts, Sr.; and Charles Younger. When former Mayor Joe Davis called Spencer in March 1977 to tell her he needed a woman on the Planning Commission, she didn’t think she was qualified, but she agreed. “He said we had to be careful about rezoning ideas,” she remembers. “It was the late 70s, and the city needed changes and will you do it? he asked. “What he didn’t know is that I was going to like it.” She was heavily involved with the development of Cummings Research Park, the Huntsville Botanical Garden, and much, much more. “We were dominated by the federal government jobs,” Spencer said. “It was 75 percent federal government and 25 percent economic development, so we had to get to 50/50 – that was the driving point.” That was the plan of Guy Nerren, the first full-time executive director of the Huntsville Industrial Expansion Committee. Nerren was hired in 1960 and ran the city’s economic development until the group merged with the Chamber in 1980. He was president and general manager of the Chamber until 1990. W.F. Sanders called Nerren “a master of putting the right people together when negotiating a deal.” Spencer was a key player in Nerren’s plans long before she became mayor, working alongside the men who made up the Industrial Development Board. She cooked meals and hosted potential industry executives from around the globe in her home. “You may only get two days’ notice when a new industry is coming to town, but it was an honor to be a part of it,” she said, recalling each visit had a code name. “Guy Nerren never let an officer of the board talk before the group without having the total facts. He usually wrote a speech for you,” she said, adding that hosting company executives in homes made a difference. She said they were almost always told by the visiting group that, in other cities, they took them out to eat. “In Huntsville, you may have started with appetizers in the home, but then you may go out to a really nice restaurant in Huntsville. But the quality of seeing what a family unit means


initiatives dec 2020



2007 aerial of the Toyota plant off Pulaski Pike

was important … and we were a team.” Spencer talked about how when Lucky Gold Star, which is LG Electronics now, came to town, she went to The University of Alabama in Huntsville (UAH) and spoke to Korean professors’ wives about planning a special event which included a specially prepared Korean meal for the visiting dignitaries. The hostesses wore Korean dress, and “it just started off with a unique thing that most communities just can’t offer.” Huntsville courted European and Asian businesses, which later led to success with Toyota for the engine plant. “I remember I had purchased options on two tracts of land … they were leased out to cotton farmers. Even though he wasn’t living here then, Guy had taught me to buy land with options on it so we’d have it when you get an opportunity ... and show them it’s ready to be used,” she said. A barbecue restaurant was interested in the site, but Spencer decided to keep the option open. The next month, Toyota came to town. “[Toyota] had just made a bid and was doing tract work on a site in West Virginia to put a manufacturing plant, and it was up and down the hills ... they talked to me about it being the worst piece of property because it cost them a lot to do the site prep,” she said. “The beauty of it was … later on, the first thing they gave me was with a picture of their plant that went on a cotton field … flat land, that’s the English words they wanted to say over and over, flat land.” “We were just so lucky they liked the site,” she added. She said they found out in late December 2000 that Huntsville would be in consideration for the site, but they were sworn A HUNTSVILLE/MADISON COUNTY CHAMBER PUBLICATION

to secrecy, and they didn’t want word to get out. She said one city council member had loose lips in January, but the Toyota executives called to arrange a visit to Huntsville at the first of February to make the announcement in cooperation with The Huntsville Times. “We went to the newspaper on Friday, and they had to swear allegiance to us that they wouldn’t let anything go, they couldn’t have Monday morning news,” she said. “That was important, and Guy Nerren taught us early on that you don’t let information out … because other cities who might be in contention could use it against you.” Spencer said she learned lines of Japanese, bought a pair of Gingko earrings for one visit, and danced with the executives. She said the importance of recognizing and appreciating the culture of visiting dignitaries can’t be understated. When it came time for the Toyota groundbreaking, she had learned two lines of Japanese and ended it with hugging Dr. Shoichiro Toyoda. Everyone gasped. “I couldn’t help it because that was my personality when I dealt with people, and I learned so much about them ... and the beauty of it was that a year later, I was a guest at the New York Japanese Chamber of Commerce,” she said. “A local Toyota representative called me to the mic for a gift from Dr. Toyoda … it was a hug, and I knew I could be myself from then on because he blessed me by doing a return of what I gave to him which was a sincere gesture,” Spencer said. While her work with industrial recruitment was crucial to the city’s growth, Spencer talked about several other important figures during her time as a mover and shaker including but not limited to Ray Bass, state highway director in the 1970s and 1980s; local businessman Woody Anderson; Dallas Fanning, with the city’s planning department from 1972 to 2010; Harvey Cotton at the Botanical Garden; Ralph Gibson, who was assistant to Mayor Joe Davis; Bob Ward of The Huntsville Times; and U.S. Army Gen. James “Jim” Link. ■ Wendy Reeves Contributing Writer

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L-R: Former Alabama Governor Bob Riley, Congressman Bud Cramer, and then-Mayor Spencer at a CRP event. (prior to 2008) A HUNTSVILLE/MADISON COUNTY CHAMBER PUBLICATION

Synovus Bank, Member FDIC.

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Future MM-Print Drake State team to research 3D printing technologies for NASA


rake State Community & Technical College has been selected by NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center (MSFC) in Huntsville to help research 3D printing technologies that will help prepare for sustainable Artemis operations on the Moon by the end of the decade and for future human missions to Mars. Drake State submitted a proposal to MSFC’s seventh competitive Cooperative Agreement Notice (CAN) for Dual-Use Technology Development solicitation, and the award will fund collaborative research in support of NASA’s Moon to Mars Planetary Autonomous Construction Technologies (MMPACT) project – aiming to develop, deliver, and demonstrate on-demand capabilities to protect astronauts and create infrastructure on the lunar surface via construction of landing pads, habitats, shelters, roadways, berms, and blast shields using lunar regolith-based materials.


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Drake State is the first community college and only Historically Black Community College to receive a cooperative agreement award from Marshall’s CAN opportunity since its inception in 2013. The research team consists of students, instructors, and administrators from the college’s Engineering Design program. Bob Grissim is Drake State’s director of Workforce Development and principle investigator, Jeanette Zatowski is the Advanced Manufacturing Technical Programs instructor, Brett Ellis is the Engineering Design instructor, and Karen Ray is Placement and Apprenticeships coordinator. The two students working as research interns are Josh Driskill and Jaiden Mason. Together, the team will test 3D-printed concrete structures to help develop construction techniques suitable for building land-


ing pads, roads, and other large structures on the Moon. A nine-member advisory board has been established to oversee the year-long research project. In addition to the advisory board, the research team will be supported by representatives from MSFC and ICON, a construction technologies company leading the 3D space construction research efforts for NASA. “NASA is calling on us to help develop construction techniques suitable for use on the moon,” said Drake State President Dr. Pat Sims. “Our advisory board has the expertise to keep on us target and meet deadlines.”

Student Backgrounds The two research interns have both been involved in Drake State’s Dual Enrollment program. Driskill attended many schools around the country over the years due to his father’s service in the Marine Corps. He is now in his senior year of high school as a homeschool student, taking some classes at home and others through dual enrollment at Drake State. His favorite classes are math and science, primarily physics. “Each semester at Drake I took Computer-Aided Design (CAD) classes to learn how to use SolidWorks CAD software. I now use SolidWorks for almost all of my projects,” said Driskill. Mason is from the Rocket City. He attended J.E. Williams Elementary in Huntsville, then Liberty Middle School and James Clemens High School in Madison. He says he enjoyed all of his

L-R: Bob Grissim (principal investigator), Jeanette Zatowski (Advanced Manufacturing Technical Programs instructor), Josh Driskill (research intern), Jaiden Mason (research intern), Karen Ray (Placement and Apprenticeships coordinator), and Brett Ellis (Engineering Design instructor).

classes, primarily English and History, but wasn’t on a heavy class track to pursue this route. “Only one class that I took, which was basic engineering, but it was really the dual enrollment classes that were offered at Drake that played a part,” said Mason. He said he is still trying to determine what interests him the most, but having the opportunity to work with NASA’s Marshall – continued on page 18

WHERE THE FUTURE WORKS redstonegateway.com


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BEYOND EARTH’S ATMOSPHERE, continued – Space Flight Center is an excellent way to explore possibilities. “It’s amazing – I would’ve never thought I’d be doing or working on anything pertaining to space, so it’s pretty cool.” Driskill echoes the excitement, for being part of our local community’s space legacy. “I have always wanted to do something actually meaningful. I feel this internship is the opportunity I have been waiting for,” he said. “I hope to learn about new additive manufacturing processes and new applications for my current abilities.” ■

Photo: Jaiden Mason (research intern)

Join the Club Blue Origin’s ‘Club for the Future’ works to inspire students about Space


lue Origin’s nonprofit organization, Club for the Future, continues its work to get children excited about space exploration. Club for the Future’s main mission is to inspire today’s youth to pursue a career in the STEM field and help them visualize how important space exploration is for Earth. What better way to get children excited about space than to give them their very own space-flown keepsake? That’s just what Club for the Future does. K-12 students all over the world have the opportunity to design their own postcard, either with a drawing or written explanation, describing why they think Earth needs space. Once they use their creativity on their postcard, they mail it to Club for the

Future, and cards are loaded in the crew capsule on a future mission aboard Blue Origin’s fully reusable rocket, New Shepard. The rocket is launched into space from the West Texas desert. When the postcards are safely returned to Earth, they are marked with a ‘Flown to Space’ stamp and mailed back to the sender to keep as a souvenir that is truly from out of this world. In February, Blue Origin opened its brand new rocket engine 18

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factory in Huntsville’s Cummings Research Park. As part of the event, the Huntsville/Madison County Chamber reached out to several schools in our local area to invite students to create postcards for Club for the Future. Several classrooms participated, and hundreds of postcards from the Rocket City were sent on their journey into space on a New Shepard launch on October 13. Those postcards have recently been mailed back to the Huntsville students, and we plan to enlist the help of more schools for future launches very soon. This is a great opportunity to get students, not only in our area but all over the world, captivated about space exploration and STEM, encouraging students to pursue a career in related fields. Club for the Future has been launching K-12 students’ ideas to space and back since the organization was founded in 2019, with plans to continue for years to come. The unique opportunity to have students send their hopes and dreams to space is the perfect inspirational activity for students in our area. We are the Rocket City, after all!

■ Julia Kaye Marketing & Events Coordinator Economic Development, Industry Relations & Workforce A HUNTSVILLE/MADISON COUNTY CHAMBER PUBLICATION

Progress Looks Like Taking The Small Steps That Make a New House


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s brought an a h r a e y is th t 2020, bu staurants, n re o in k o rs o e b m e to th s ready to close ners. Fewer cu h a few Most of us are nges for small business ow st opting to shop online wit is halle in a big way. It any people ju ts m n a d h extra set of c n a rc , e rs m l ile ca ic for reta affected our lo es now, more than ever. ll a e v a less foot traff h rs to these fac all business taps or clicks – pport our community’s sm su m about their e th g in k critical that we s a , s ge e e following pa th n o know about th e a rs to e b u o m y e t m n l a a w c y lo ht d what the Please mak . n s a , rd d o We profile eig e w c n fa w e o ’v eir s. ggles they answers in th ir e th hase gift card re year, the stru a rc e u s p e h to T . rg e .o id n v ifto pro services they r visit getyourg o n o rs e p in em point to visit th

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Jessa Harr

We’re a new bu siness that open ed up in the pa in itself. Before, ndemic, which is it was easier to a feat open a business know you’re he and expect peop re. Now, you do le to n’ t ha ve your traffic flo It’s harder to ge t the word out be w, your walk-ins. cause people ar they used to. O en’t shopping lik nline is fine, but e we’re not your a very European ty pi cal florist. We ha -style shop, and ve I want Huntsville We’re very com to experience it. munity-oriented and community -friendly. We do a ‘Fresh Flower Friday’ w hi ch is very European your own bouq uet. Small styles . Come and mak , flowers from th e that anywhere el e growers. You se in this area. W ca n’ t do e also host clas how to arrange ses to teach pe flowers. You ge ople t to take home and you design a beautiful arrang it yourself! I show ement, you how easy it is to do. I am also huge on customer se rvice. If you’ve go to do everything t a request, I’m possible to mak going e that for you. If find an alternat we can’t do it, w ive that’s just as e’ll beautiful for yo customization. u, and we also do When you work with us, I want yo smile on your fa u to walk away ce, and to be ha with a ppy you were he re. theflowershop peofprovidence .com

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Shop Small, Save Local, continued – ue to nges d te some a h c e of th despi en all dset, get e n i b m s a e had to terial itiv ar h y s l e o u y r p t s i a a e th g sis. I’v ative m nt for tainin a e e n b i r c a m y l t i h s m Candy’s Candles a it tly dju on a d the box w sisten uge a u n h o o y e c e n O nd und tsid use Candice Hayes, Ow -19, a gs aro nk ou ive to r t ner s COVID gative thin one and thi e w e l t b a e n th tz ycla w c e o . r s n r of the my comfor k e e at ar dles, e ustom ’s Can e vessels, th es such as y outsid potential c d n a s are C v th ch additi Our candle el g with ckaging to e n i s to rea u p t p ’ . ss n o a sho ilers d d in each ve rom p sed. We do f a u are t , o s e y t r c n e u Whe produ poure etely st larg iendly le is compl les like mo d are handr f o c e d d n e ur can ndly, a he can sonal. sampl after t or dyes in o nd eco-frie it more per ll gift a m n s a o n e c ence d free paraffi y, non-toxi ocal to mak ing an online pres l o g s a ’s k t % c a 100 . Th in pa rong owner cards o have a st u s. for o y k by the s al unity llower an o h e m f t m W r e . u o d c n o lu the . If with ciatio so inc sses in candle line appre to engage e We al n w i s o u h y to s luxur mall b agram items ther s launched a visit us. & Inst o k e o m o .com ith so e recently re to Faceb utique red w , be su o e w l n b e t d s s r n s e a l a e ps, ve p nt v scand We ha op-Up Sho more elega candy P a s variou looking for e you ar

tices, forcing small very unfair trade prac ed lud inc s ha ar ye This s open. Treating eping big box store ke ile wh se clo to s ppening and businesse don’t know what is ha ey th e lik rs ne ow s n stores. I tell small busines umer traffic in our ow ns co e lat gu re t no stores that they could job than the big box r tte be a ne do ve idance. you this, we could ha s with little to no gu re sto eir th er ov all n did, letting people ru ng jewelry for our s we’ve faced is getti ge en all ch t es gg bi e rs were closed for One of th jewelry manufacture r ou of nt rce pe 75 store. Over some are still closed. several months, and manufacturers – al with more jewelry de we s, es sin bu r ou In is made to our t deal of our jewelry ea gr a d an rs, lie pp r stock orders six not su d we have to place ou an ty, ali qu d an s ion have over our specificat is a very big edge we is Th e. nc va ad in s elry for to nine month volume of custom jew ge lar ry ve a do o als competition. We our clients. e te than ourselves. W who are less fortuna e os th lp so he s, to ion at ive We str d civic organiz range of charities an lp those in contribute to a wide y purchase goes to he er ev of rt pa a at th you can trust need. d service to we promise value an d an e, lin on s m ite l better We do sell severa ices online and give pr ch at m do d an n rs our customers. We ca Osborne’s Jewele service to go with it. orne, Owners rs.com www.osbornesjewele Everett & Jerri Osb


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The Fret Shop



Mark Torstenson, O

Obviously, 2020 ha s been like no othe r year in our history! Initially, my fear wa s that the “safer at home” order would cause a significant downtu rn in business ... wh ich it did, but only briefly . We immediately st arted a social media blitz ad vertising that we of fered online purchases wi th curbside pick-up an d home delivery, and things quickly retu rned to relatively normal sa les volumes. We ac tually saw a bigger-than-norm al sales volume for April and May while so many people were confine d to their homes. My bi ggest challenge at this point is being able to rest ock inventory. Man y of my suppliers and manuf acturers were shut down for several weeks an d have had to impl ement safety measures th at have slowed prod uction. We are just now be ginning to see stoc k return to quasi-normal leve ls but still have hole s in some key sellers. We’ve been servin g the north Alabam a area for over 40 years. W e specialize in quali ty string instrument sa les and service. We pride ourselves in offerin g top-level custom er service by experienced sale s people. We stress our know ledge and experienc e that you can’t find onlin e or in a “big box” store. We also offer service after the sale, ofte n at no extra charge. We ar e also pushing our we bsite that offers real-tim e inventory stock an d competitive prices.

Providing Aerospace and Defense Solutions to our Warfighters

ANY TIME...ANYWHERE Integrated Logistics & Product Support Engineering & Manufacturing Maintenance & Modifications Training Systems & Solutions Base & Range Operations


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YULISTA.COM dec 2020 initiatives



Shop Small, Save Local, continued –


Tom Brown’s Rest

The year started of f with construction coming to an end an opening in March of d the goal of 2020 being met, th en to waking up on seeing it all smashe e morning and d by a global pand emic. We took a ste bigger picture, look p back to see the ed around and gath ered information, an our energy on what d refocused we needed to over come. It would be up with a plan to de up to us to come al with our new situa tion and put it into action. Every business owne r has had to face an d overcome all or pa same thing. From fin rt of the ding employees to op en or keep the door to obtaining supplie s open, s from vendors wh ich have not been months, to wonder st oc ke d for ing what was going to actually show up after ordering it, to at our door figuring out how to maintain any kind of co nsistency. We are a locally ow ned and operated re st aurant committed you, our guest, with to providing the best premium food and casual at the freshest seafoo m os phere. From d to top of the line steaks, we bring yo than the best custom u nothing less er experience, the freshest ingredient cocktails, and locally s, the best brewed beer. This holiday season , we are opening up our entire restaura your company to co nt for you and me and join us for a dining experienc love. We are now ac e you are sure to cepting reservations for your company pa lunch hours. You ar rty during e able to reserve th e entire restaurant you to have one wi , which allows th enough space to meet all the local gu be safe during your idelines and company’s holiday festivities.

n, Owners


Ashley & Tom Brow


r a lot of re, as it has been fo su r fo r te as co r lle a ro show in This year has been at an annual Antique up t se all re we ch, we we had to turn people. In early Mar was cancelled and ng hi yt er ev en wh s, on, but we Round Top, Texa ed pretty bleak early ok lo gs in Th e. m ho dustry in town. around and come r of the building in te or pp su a as en op n home were able to remain up as people bega ck ba ck pi to s es for busin Although It didn’t take long s of the lockdown. ge sta rly ea e th g els durin been more humbled projects and remod , we could not have try un co r ou r fo e at time. it was a trying tim customers during th w ne y an m so t or pp by being able to su t few opened up in the las ve ha at th s se es sin bu We truly There are so many d fresh to the table. an w ne ng hi et m ing so of that ever-growing years locally that br one of the staples e ar we e lik el fe new customer or a want people to whether you are a d an ity un m m co s u visit. Huntsville busines rience every time yo pe ex ue iq un a be it to loyal fan, we want is a hidden gem al salvage business ur ct ite ch ar d an ed im of utilizing We feel like the recla is to share the value als go r ou of e on d try, an cape we see today. throughout our coun e vast design lands th o int s m ite ge ta such amazing reclaimed and vin r reclaimed doors in ou e iliz ut s er m sto iture designs We love how our cu up with unique furn ing m co r fo n io ss a pa continue to ways, and we have ed materials. As we im cla re ely tir en t ovide a almos e in our ability to pr that are made from nc de nfi co ve ha to consumers e projects. grow, we hope for items for their hom m sto cu d an ed im m wide array of recla preservationco.co


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Preservation Com


Jason & Christa Bu

tler, Owners


Southern Reclaime d Salvage Barn

Kelly & Amy Falter,


odworking shop rn (SRSB) is a small wo Ba ge lva Sa ed im cla part-time craftsmen Southern Re employ retired and e W y. ne To in e m ho cts from our located at our ve a pipeline of proje ha to e inu nt co to end who depend on us ms, and our clients sp ite m sto cu ild bu e W s. cor items. friends and neighbor ors, furniture, and dÊ do , es ish fin d en hhig disposable income on events, create items for local to s ar ye s iou ev pr te in r event business We had been fortuna eries. With COVID, ou ew br d an ts, an ur at did happen weddings, resta nt away. Ironically, wh we s es sin bu ing dd r kitchen plummeted. Our we concept spaces, large en op r fo s or do ed was that people need s, and mantles. tables, shelves, desk Realtors gift giving this year. ed liz na rso pe e or m a lot lot of closing gifts. People are also doing r area, and we do a ou in es m ho of lot a peline full. are still selling aged to keep the pi an m ve ha we d an , Our business shifted for community, ns of small projects to do e W . ke ali cts ers, and We do no two proje s, commercial develop se es sin bu r fo cts oje pr several neighbors, to larger quantities. SRSB has le ip ult m to ies tit an gle qu d the latest in churches. We do sin master craftsmen, an ed on as se d an d te g guru, and an incredibly talen engineer, a marketin an ve ha e W y. log no u can imagine. woodworking tech support anything yo ll wi at th r cto re di ive award-winning creat rn.com reclaimedsalvageba – continued on page

NOW LOCATED at Highway 72/Providence.




dec 2020 initiatives


Shop Small, Save Local, continued – adjust willing to e b t s u m been ears, you nge has y e ll 0 a 2 h r c t fo s ss unities ge in busine l. My big g opport g in fu s k in r s e o e b c w c t m tend e su n ne arned fro ift ss and b lt. People in-perso e u r c in e fi s G w if u il I have le d b fe a m in re re e t o a y n a m t re o to s g more nships is Since the rfec wner your plan e g relatio am relyin usiness. I in b d o P y il s u , m t b s g , u f COVID ebsite. marketin e, and tr The ueller, O nd my w ecause o know, lik a b y , e h w s t h t o t u n n o e e t s li c o fm righ wn M , word o orporate ss with th c a ia e r r d in fo e s fo s u D m s s b t l e if to do in busin gs, socia ts and g g, mailin ift baske ave been appreciate g h d m n o a t s d u marketin clients operate lizes in c sents lping my ned and ift specia e w h G -o t y n c jo a that repre ich fe n r t m e if o d g w n a a re r g a The Pe e wh ne nin o order, iduals. W t ing desig sources by desig n iv d d in e in g -w a d k rd n c a awa ur gifts referral ts are pa . I am an ees, and . Our gif ailable. O y e v a ir lo s 20 years p g e d m in t e y s e a that the tomers, timent th nd best-t nfidence a n o e t c s s e u e their cus h o h s y t e , giving e the fr iness and resented gift will b p their bus r u re o a y y t e a h es th ize our e. just as t guarante you desir to custom ents shipped r e is c o s n d re ie r re to e e s xp e res are deliv ing the e r gift rep and onlin u iv r o e e y c rg g re la n is ri ade u ith recipient ne of “M gifts, ens mpete w li r o a u c o g to n in ri o e we d products made in e are off e things gos and eason, w rced and lo s u y o te a s One of th d ra is li o o ts kind. t baske sing corp for the h these gif one of a ear, new gifts by u y in re a is d h y e s T e u . th s ines erything gift.com ing sure your bus ifts, mak ducts. Ev sperfect g n ro e w p s a ” e d A th S -design in the U e custom W . A S U the


initiatives dec 2020


Over the next several issues, we will profile various winners from the 35th Annual Small Business Awards. In this issue, meet the owners of Troy 7, Signalink, and Redline Steel – and learn about the services they provide and challenges they’ve overcome.


Written by Claire Aiello

Lynn Troy

Troy 7, Inc. was founded in November 2007 as a woman-owned small aerospace engineering corporation by husband and wife team, Lynn and John Troy. The company has enjoyed steady, organic growth and has approximately 60 employees today in Huntsville, Colorado Springs, and Orlando. Troy 7 provides leading edge engineering, technical, and management services, and the company’s highly qualified personnel have ensured a legacy of support to more than 300 missile defense and space flight missions for the Missile Defense Agency (MDA), Army Space & Missile Defense Command (SMDC), Naval Air Warfare Center, NASA, and the Air Force. “We are recognized for our expertise in Missile Guidance, Navigation, and Control; Telemetry Data Processing; 6 Degree of Freedom Trajectory development; High Energy Laser Testing; Threat Intelligence; Hypersonics; and Range Support,” said Lynn Troy. “We are also known for our commitment to excellence in management services such as project management, strategic planning, security, and administration and program execution support.” Troy said the team works hard to maintain a culture of family in spite of being physically dispersed. “It is the core of how we treat our employees and has guided many decisions we have made over the last 13 years,” she said. Troy 7 recently won Woman-Owned Small Business of the Year, and Troy said the entire team was thrilled and humbled. She accepted the award live on Zoom with her granddaughter at her side. “This has been a difficult year dealing with the challenges brought on by COVID-19. Receiving this award was a huge bright spot in this very unusual year,” she said. “The quality, talent, and diversity of the other contenders made this award even more special as we admire so many of those companies, and we are truly grateful for this honor.” Over the next 10 years, the company plans to expand its corporate reach, pursuing and executing additional prime contracts in Huntsville and beyond, while sustaining its core values of service to employees, customers, and community. That is very important, Troy said. “Take good care of your team, don’t get discouraged on the hard days, and engage in the community in a meaningful way,” she pressed. Troy said being active in the Chamber has helped provide opportunities to network and grow the business. “It’s a wonderful chance to interact with people outside our day-to-day circle and also facilitate connections to resources all small businesses need,” said Troy. “In addition, the breadth of things we have learned about workforce and economic development initiatives informs our bid strategies for new opportunities. I cannot imagine not being active in the Chamber!” ■ – continued on page 28


dec 2020 initiatives


SBA WINNERS, continued –

Signalink recently won Government Contracting – Technology Business of the Year in the Chamber’s 2020 Small Business Awards. Husband and wife Steve and Alice Lessmann head up the company and met while serving in the Army National Guard’s 1-203rd Air Defense Artillery Battalion. They married in 2002 and started their family a few years later. As civilians, they struggled as Steve traveled often as a government contractor, and Alice worked long hours as an acute care nurse practitioner in neurosurgery. The constraints on their family inspired them to start their own business the same year Steve retired from the National Guard. In 2005, using both their military knowledge and Steve’s experience with industry, they formed Signalink, Inc. “It was a risk, but we had the comfort of knowing Alice would be able to support our family working as a nurse practitioner if needed,” Steve said. Founding the company was a positive career change and worked well for their family. Signalink provides technical services and solutions to government customers, primarily focused on the Department of Defense. Over the past year, the company has significantly expanded its capabilities and customer base. “The next step is now building on that strong foundation. The challenge is taking those individual

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General Contractor 4900 University Square, Suite 2, Huntsville, AL 35816 www.robinsmorton.com


initiatives dec 2020

L-R: Joe Pask and Steve Lessmann demonstrate 3D scanning to reverse engineer system components.

pieces and putting them together to provide all-encompassing solutions for our customers from concepts through initial production to sustainment and end-of-product-life,” said Steve. Steve currently serves as president, and Alice is chief executive officer. While they began the company in their detached garage, the company has now grown into a newly constructed 11,500-squarefoot building on eight acres in Madison. Signalink also has offices in California, Washington, New York, and Maryland. It hasn’t always been easy, though. Steve recalls in 2018 when the company lost two contracts that led to over half of the team being cut. “We were concerned about our ability to remain in business and considered closing the doors. Through faith and prayer, we decided this was just a roadblock in our path, and it would not stop us,” he said. “We examined the market and identified some niche areas to expand our capabilities, and took the risk of trying something new and taking out loans to begin our journey to re-building. Within the last year, we have doubled our workforce and tripled our customer base. This provided us increased stability and flexibility to allow us to adjust to changing market conditions.” Steve says he is proud that the team’s moral and ethical standards have never wavered. “Our faith has continued to see us through both the good times and bad that all businesses experience,” he said. “We were determined to maintain this family-based culture as our company grew and prospered, and to ensure these values are reflected in all our staff. Because we are a family, our greatest achievements come from those of our employees – whether it be incorporating emerging technologies to grow into a new business area or becoming a first-time parent/grandparent, celebrating our collective successes has been the most rewarding part of growing our business.” Signalink is active in the community, supporting local events and charities, including Heroes on the Water, Harris Home for Children, and Still Serving Veterans. “Our corporate philosophy is built around servanthood focused on three major pillars – People, Customers, and Community. We ensure our employees are engaged and feel valued, and this is epitomized by our 95 percent employee retention rate,” said Steve. Future plans for the company include adding more positions, expanding the facility in Madison, and transitioning from primarily subcontracting to prime contracting. ■ A HUNTSVILLE/MADISON COUNTY CHAMBER PUBLICATION

Redline Steel opened in 2016 and has grown tremendously in four years’ time. It earned the No. 110 spot on the Inc. 5000 list earlier this year, which ranks the fastest growing, privately owned companies in the United States. Colin Wayne, owner and founder, said the idea for the business came when he wanted to order a customizable baseball plaque for his son, Carsyn, as a gift. He consulted with a local manufacturer and became increasingly interested in investing in his small business. “However, on the day we were supposed to sign the legal documents per our verbal agreement, the guy never arrived and backed out of the deal,” Wayne said. “Being that I already had my mind made up to go into the business, I decided to invest my own money for equipment the following day and let the local manufacturer know that I would instead be a competitor.” Redline Steel recently won Retailer of the Year in the Chamber’s 2020 Small Business Awards. The company specializes in customized steel home décor artwork with all material and manufacturing handled in the U.S. “We are currently the largest customized steel manufacturer in the entire country. Apart from our high quality, powder-coated steel products, we also offer several other types of products including canvas art, leather bracelets/keychains, and apparel that are 100 percent sourced in the United States,” said Wayne. Products are offered on redlinesteel.com. To date, Redline Steel has relocated three times into larger buildings and currently employs about 100 people in its 110,000-square-foot facility in Tanner, Ala. The company’s leadership team visited with Governor Kay Ivey on October 30 to receive a Commendation (shown left). Redline Steel is veteran-owned and operated and uses 100 percent American-made steel and materials for its home décor products. Gov. Ivey recognized the company during National Veterans Small Business Week. “Whenever I stop and tell myself ‘Wow, this feeling can’t be topped,’ we attain another milestone that replaces the previous achievement,” said Wayne, a U.S. Army Veteran. “I’d say our greatest achievement we’ve attained thus far is surpassing 1 million orders placed in April of 2020.” Wayne says it is important for companies to maximize your online presence. “Understanding your audience is crucial to converting website traffic into lifelong customers. Utilizing online platforms such as Facebook has allowed us to capitalize and attract first time buyers via social media,” he offered. “Ultimately, find your passion and pursue that passion relentlessly. If you’re afraid to fail, you will never be able to break any barriers that are necessary for attaining that personal growth and success you desire. Leave any and all insecurities at the door, and you will be amazed at what you can achieve. ■ A HUNTSVILLE/MADISON COUNTY CHAMBER PUBLICATION

Using Facebook to Boost Your Online Presence H

aving an online presence is essential to successfully run a small business these days. Social media is an excellent tool to gain new and retain existing customers, and Facebook offers a business platform with a paid membership. The Facebook for Business membership has many tools to help owners create a profile, interact with customers, and create job postings, all from your mobile device or desktop. Creating a business account allows you to post ads and promote them to the top of your followers’ news feed, meaning that your company will be the first thing they see when they log in to their own personal account. It’s a great way to boost sales this holiday season – in fact, spending just a few dollars to boost your posts improves your chances of being at the top of the list and front of the line when people sign on. Another great thing about setting up a business account through Facebook is that they are integrated with other media platforms. One is Instagram – a very influential photo and video sharing app – and this can allow you to share media simultaneously to both platforms without having to login multiple times. Additionally, Facebook owns WhatsApp, a similar media sharing app that also provides messaging and tools to easily sort and respond to customer inquiries. Because Facebook and Instagram allow you real time access to questions from customers, you can easily respond to them without having to even be in a brick and mortar office, allowing you more flexibility. You can also update hours of operation, menus, add photos and videos, and have them instantly available to your followers. Are you recruiting? You can very simply add a job posting and description and be able to reach out to applicants all from the app. If you haven’t already, check out Facebook for Business and expand your online presence through multiple popular apps within a matter of minutes and watch your business grow! Visit facebook. com/business for more information. ■ Sarah Blackmon Administrative Coordinator Finance & Administration

dec 2020 initiatives



Applied Knowledge Large, small businesses reap benefits in Mentor-Protégé program


“big brother” can help a small business confront the multiple challenges it faces during the first few years. That’s how one Huntsville small business leader described the relationship he has with his partner in the All Small Mentor-Protégé program of the Small Business Administration (SBA). Formed in 2008, Yorktown Systems Group now has 800 employees in multiple states with its headquarters in Huntsville. Offset Strategic Services (OSS) employs 35. The two partnered in 2017 under that SBA program, and it’s working well for both, they said. L-R: Bryan Dyer & T.J.Wright

“The mentor company benefits by helping another small business, so companies like ours that used to be small, we get to help them and advise them as they grow and build their businesses,” said Yorktown President & CEO Bryan Dyer. “It’s a lot of fun being around a small business.” T.J. Wright, Offset founder and CEO, said his “big brother” men30

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tor relationship helped him fine-tune his initial plans for how to set up human resources, accounting, business development, program management, security, and other functions. Advice from an established larger business is particularly welcome in the complicated, highly scrutinized world of Department of Defense (DoD) contracting. “We’ve grown really quickly. There’s bumps there, and I still go through those, but I’ve missed a lot of potholes” because of Yorktown’s guidance on organizational issues and government requirements. “There’s a lot to be a DoD contractor,” Wright added. Yorktown already “had those lessons learned.” Both CEOs said it helps if partner companies have common cultures. Dyer and Wright are former Special Ops Army officers, and both companies are service-disabled veteran-owned. “We were in the same unit, the 82nd Airborne,” said Wright. “We have a lot of commonality. We’re close together in proximity. If I needed help, I could just drive a couple of miles and I’m there. I know everybody in their company, and they know everybody in our company by name.” The SBA Mentor-Protégé program is open to all small businesses. Partners can form a joint venture and compete for government contracts reserved for small businesses, or bid on set-aside work for service-disabled, veteran- or woman-owned, or HUBZone businesses. Yorktown and OSS formed the Offset Systems Group joint venture. As a mentor for years, Tec-Masters Inc. of Huntsville has earned six Nunn-Perry Awards from the DoD for excellence in the program. Tec-Masters currently has four protégés, according to program supervisor Richard Chenault. Two, GeneCapture and Linc Research, are in Huntsville. “It gives us the ability to interact with a lot of subject matter experts” in the services and technology companies, Chenault said. Tec-Masters usually finds its protégés by networking. Sometimes small companies approach them. Chenault said when considering a protégé, they look “at what A HUNTSVILLE/MADISON COUNTY CHAMBER PUBLICATION

Rich Chenault of Tec-Masters

they do and see if they have any interest in assistance to help them formalize their business operations and their business development processes and procedures, so it can make them more competitive for U.S. government contracting.” Small businesses must have a mentor picked out before applying to the SBA. “This is not a matchmaking program,” SBA guidelines state frankly. Offset and Yorktown leaders met at a business function. “It was a right fit,” said Wright. The first term of a Mentor-Protégé agreement may last up to three years. At the end of those first three years, the agreement may be extended for another three years. The SBA evaluates the relationship annually. OSS has access to Yorktown’s headquarters staff for advice on areas like internal business management, marketing, security clearances, and strategic planning. Employees from both work together on the joint ventures. The Mentor-Protégé arrangement offers advantages for both parties, all businessmen interviewed said. As part owner of a joint venture contract, the mentor company can pursue more work and has greater customer visibility, Dyer explained. “We also are able to take advantage of their small business size


standard in federal contracting,” he said. “We’re able to bid on opportunities as a joint venture in small business set-asides that we wouldn’t be able to bid on.” Tec-Masters even pays for protégé companies to prepare and train for their International Organization for Standardization (ISO) certification, Chenault said. “We get to interact with the protégés quite a bit,” he said. “Depending on what the protégés do, we either have people on staff with them full time to support them, we have subject matter experts, as well as the personnel that are in our corporate headquarters that support them routinely.” Yorktown currently has two protégés – Wright’s start-up and a more established company it helps with business development and proposal management. Wright pointed out that Yorktown was once a protégé itself. Apparently, they learned a lot – quickly. “Interestingly enough, our first contract win as a large business we won against our former mentor company,” said Dyer. Dyer said the company “benefited greatly” from its experience as a protégé. “To my mind, it’s sort of paying it forward. “We’re invested in T.J. being successful and it’s more than just a contract we may bid on,” Dyer said. “We’re invested, and we’ve signed an agreement with the SBA to make T.J. successful.” – continued on page 32

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MENTORING MATTERS, continued – In June, the SBA approved a Mentor-Protégé relationship between LinQuest and nLogic of Huntsville. Their joint venture is called LogicQuest. In 2017, nLogic took over the role of mentor to Enlogica Solutions. nLogic President & CEO Tim Thornton said that generally speaking in these relationships, mentors provide guidance on internal business management accounting, marketing, strategic planning, federal contract bidding, and business development. Tim Thornton, n Logic

Wright of OSS said the Mentor-Protégé program can build “a band of shared values.” When his company reaches the point where it qualifies to be a mentor, “I’ve got a great model,” said Wright. “If you have companies that do it right, it’s got a legacy that goes beyond Yorktown, goes beyond OSS, and goes to the next company to build strong service-disabled veteran-owned small businesses serving the defense industry. “When it’s done like that, I think it’s a great thing for the warfighter, for companies, and the community,” he said. ■ Deborah Storey Contributing Writer

Getting a Taste Students learn, companies mentor through local AAMU internships


labama A&M University (AAMU) accounting major Jalyn Hill needs a job with course credit to graduate. The Huntsville office of wealth management firm, Keel Point, just started an internship program with AAMU. So Hill gets to sit behind a desk at Keel Point’s fancy landmark office overlooking Big Spring Park on Church Street. She gets paid and earns credit, and Keel Point gets to mentor and try out a possible permanent employee. Keel Point hired interns from other universities in the past but this year decided “we wanted to reach out to A&M,” said Jason D. Landers, senior wealth advisor. “It’s been great,” he said. “We intend to continue through the spring and beyond.” They look at developing students for a future in the workplace. Keel Point is sending 10 AAMU students to the National Student Leadership program in Washington, D.C., in November. “We try to pour more into the student beside the X’s and O’s of business,” Landers said. “We want to expose them to leadership-type conversations and working in an office and all the different things that come with professional development in addition to the things that apply to their field. “I think that they are exposed to a lot of different things within the financial services industry,” he said. “That would be operations to compliance to the investment strategies,” he said, as well as leadership techniques and personal development. “The work that the students do for us is helpful,” Landers added. “The partnership with an institution located right here in Huntsville is an important part as well.” In 2019, Alabama A&M’s College of Business and Public Experiential Learning Opportunities program became fully functional. ELO Program Coordinator Sonya Merritt said it requires students to complete an internship, co-op, or field study to graduate. The program is designed to help students in the business college 32

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with networking, team building, problem solving, and corporate communication skills. Roughly 100 local companies have participated, and around 30 percent of the students were hired. “We’ve got some great students who have had some awesome opportunities,” she said. “We have engagement with employers in the community and literally around the country now.” Hill works two hours a day at Keel Point. “It’s really good to get this kind of experience,” said Hill, who is on her fourth college internship. “Something in my field is really good to give me a taste of corporate accounting. “Sometimes I will do regular intern things, but other times I’ve created bills, I’ve created spreadsheets that help out other people in the office, and I’ve done small data entry tasks as well. It’s really helped. “I love it,” she said. “I feel like they really trust me with the work.” Hill, who graduates in May of 2021, said she definitely would consider an offer to stay in Huntsville rather than return home to Cincinnati. Keel Point has offered full-time positions in Huntsville and Washington, D.C., to its interns before. “We will have needs and open seats,” said Landers. For information on AAMU’s Experiential Learning Opportunities program, contact Sonya Merritt or director Rashida Wilson at 256-372-5499. ■ Deborah Storey Contributing Writer A HUNTSVILLE/MADISON COUNTY CHAMBER PUBLICATION

We recently marked National STEM Day on November 8 and wanted to share some fun STEM facts about the Rocket City!

#1 in the U.S. for concentration of engineers #3 in the U.S. for percentage of STEM jobs – Bureau of Labor Statistics

Top city in the South for STEM salaries

– SmartAsset

Best place for STEM grads – NerdWallet

Home of Space Camp at the U.S. Space & Rocket Center

#1 City for STEM Workers – Livability

100% online or evening in-person classes.


7/1/20 9:39 AM dec 2020 initiatives



Record Turnout State and Local Elections Update


here was extremely high interest in the November 3 General Election, which brought record turnout throughout the state of Alabama. Here in Madison County, 64 percent of voters showed up at the polls. In total, 194,559 ballots were cast here from our county’s pool of 302,542 registered voters. That is a record, and includes more than 37,000 absentee ballots cast ahead of Election Day, according to Madison County Probate Judge Frank Barger. Record turnout was also the case statewide. “More people cast their ballot in this election than ever before in Alabama,” said a spokeswoman for Alabama Secretary of State John Merrill.

Key Races Besides the Presidential candidates topping the ballot, the biggest state race of the night was between Tommy Tuberville and Doug

Newly elected Tommy Tuberville

Jones. Tuberville, former Auburn football coach, defeated Jones for U.S. Senate. Tuberville was elected to a six-year term. Republican Mo Brooks, running unopposed, won a sixth term in Congress. He is from Huntsville and represents the Fifth Congressional District. Robert Aderholt, a Republican from Haleyville, won a 13th term in Congress and is the state’s senior member of its House delegation. Alabama voters also approved a statewide amendment that will empower the Alabama Legislature to draft a rearranged version of the state constitution when it meets in 2022. This draft could only (1) remove racist language, (2) remove language that is repeated or no longer applies, (3) combine language related to economic development, and (4) combine language that relates to the same county. No other changes could be made. No local races in Madison County had opposition on the ballot, only slots for write-in candidates. These are the winners: ■ Circuit Court Judge, 23rd Judicial Circuit, Place 2: Alison Austin (R) ■ Circuit Court Judge, 23rd Judicial Circuit, Place 4: Claude Hundley (R) ■ District Court Judge, Madison Co., Place 1: Patrick M. Tuten (R) ■ District Court Judge, Madison Co., Place 4: Don Rizzardi (R) ■ Chair, Madison Co. Commission: Dale Strong (R) ■ Member, Madison Co. Commission, District 1: Tom Brandon (R) ■ Member, Madison Co. Commission, District 2: Steve Haraway (R) ■ Member, Madison Co. Commission, District 3: Craig W. Hill (R) ■ Member, Madison Co. Commission, District 4: Phil Vandiver (R) ■ Member, Madison Co. Commission, District 5: Phil Riddick (R) ■ Member, Madison Co. Commission, District 6: Violet Edwards (D) ■ Madison Co. Tax Assessor: Cliff Mann (R) ■ Madison Co. Tax Collector: Valerie Miles (R) ■ Madison Co. License Director: Mark Craig (R) ■ Member, Madison Co. Board of Education: Brian Brooks (R)

■ Claire Aiello Vice President, Marketing & Communications


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Redstone Update Chamber hosts virtual informational sessions


edstone’s future has never been brighter – that’s the bottom line assessment following our virtual 2020 Redstone Update on Nov. 5. The presenting sponsor was COPT. The Redstone “economic engine” is strong and growing larger. Current employment on Redstone is expected to grow from about 44,000 today, to over 50,000 by 2025, according to LTG Donnie Walker, Redstone Arsenal Senior Commander. Redstone is responsible for almost $30 billion in annual economic benefit to the area including $9 billion in direct federal funding and more than $21 billion spent by Arsenal contractors. Including the direct and indirect impact, Redstone supports a total of 108,000 jobs indirect in the region. The virtual format allowed for an extended program, nearly doubling the number of presentations that we have hosted at previous Redstone Updates. Sessions were grouped into five categories focused on Redstone’s end-to-end role supporting the lifecycle development and sustainment of the Army’s key weapons systems. Redstone’s role is unique among military bases for this complete lifecycle mission responsibility. Sessions included: Logistics Services / Acquisition; Space & Missile Defense; Civil Space; Research, Evaluation, Testing / Modernization; and Intelligence & Homeland Defense. The Logistics Services/Acquisition session included presentations from Dr. Myra Gray, deputy director, U.S. Army Security Assistance Command; Donald Nitti, deputy director, Aviation & Missile Command; MG Paul Pardew, commanding general, Army Contracting Command; Patrick Mason, deputy program executive officer, PEO Aviation; Darryl Colvin, deputy program executive officer, PEO Missiles & Space; and Marsha Kelly-Evans, acting director, Logistics Data Analysis. In addition to supporting Army contracts, MG Paul Pardew outlined ACC’s role supporting GEN Gus Perna’s “Operation Warp Speed” efforts to provide COVID virus vaccine supplies when the vaccine is ready. The Space & Missile Defense session included updates from LTG Neil Thurgood, commanding general, Rapid Capabilities & Critical Technologies Office; LTG Daniel Karbler, commanding general, Space & Missile Defense Command and Maj. Gen. Philip Garrant, program executive, Ground-Based Weapon Systems with MDA. Thurgood detailed the effort he is leading to develop hypersonic and directed energy weapons systems. Jody Singer, director, NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center (MSFC) gave the Civil Space update session. MSFC’s economic A HUNTSVILLE/MADISON COUNTY CHAMBER PUBLICATION

impact is 43,600 jobs nationally with a total economic output of $8.3 billion. MSFC is responsible for over 6,000 direct jobs at the Center.

John Nerger assisted as one of the emcees for the event.

Research, Evaluation, Testing/Modernization sessions included presentations from Dr. Juanita Christensen, executive director, Combat Capabilities Development Command Aviation & Missile Center; BG Walter Rugen, director, Future Vertical Lift Cross-Functional Team; Jeri K. Manley, deputy director, Assured Positioning, Navigation & Timing Cross-Functional Team; COL Steven Braddom, commander, Redstone Test Center. Employing over 20 percent of Redstone workforce, AvMC’s research, development and engineering services lie at the technological heart of much of the work at Redstone. The AvMC employs over 8,000 civil servants and contractors in 238 buildings at Redstone, with total FY ’19 spending of $3.8 billion. The final session included presentations from David Schlendorf, associate assistant director FBI; JD Underwood, director, ATF/National Center for Explosives Training and Research; and Col. Michael Clark, deputy director, Defense Intelligence Agency/Missile & Space Intelligence Center. Schlendorf ’s presentation included renderings of the completed FBI Redstone campus, which will house over 4,000 employees. ■ Mike Ward Senior Vice President, Government & Public Affairs dec 2020 initiatives



Thanks to these 2021 Sponsors AS OF NOVEMBER 11

Presenting Sponsor: Huntsville Hospital Platinum Sponsors: The Boeing Company; Facebook Data Center; Toyota Motor Manufacturing Alabama, Inc. Gold Sponsors: COLSA Corporation, Reed Contracting Services Silver Sponsors: Dynetics, Inc.; HudsonAlpha Institute for Biotechnology; IronMountain Solutions; University of Alabama in Huntsville Bronze Sponsors: Crestwood Medical Center; Redstone Federal Credit Union; Teledyne Brown Engineering, Inc.; Von Braun Center

Presenting Sponsor: Regions Bank Gold Sponsors: Facebook Data Center; Toyota Motor Manufacturing Alabama, Inc. Silver Sponsor: Calhoun Community College Bronze Sponsors: ADTRAN, Inc.; BBVA; Mobile Communications America; Redstone Federal Credit Union; Transcend, LLC; University of Alabama in Huntsville


initiatives dec 2020



Madison City of City of Huntsville County Huntsville Madison Metro Area

2010 Census


180,105 42,938


2019 Census est.









% Growth

COMMUNITY PROFILE Top Ten Employers: Huntsville & Madison County Redstone Arsenal* . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 38,000* Huntsville Hospital System . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 9,352

Households & Income

NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center* . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 6,000

# of Households


Avg. Household Income Per Capita Income



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


$79,715 $115,779


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


$34,089 $43,917


Dynetics, Inc. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2,900

As of July 2020


Sources: U.S. Census Bureau (www.census.gov), 2018 American Community Survey Estimates

SAIC . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2,746 Madison County Schools . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2,389 City of Huntsville . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2,206 ADTRAN, Inc. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1,925 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 44,000 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 2020 initiatives


Huntsville/Madison County Chamber

Where Companies Come to Succeed. Individually. And Together.

STA FF Executive Staff

Chip Cherry, CCE, president & CEO Meghan Nazario, 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 Kimbrough, events coordinator

Join Them in the Nation’s Second Largest Research Park.

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

Small Business & Events Pammie Jimmar, IOM, vice president Amberly Kimbrough, events coordinator

Finance & Administration Mary McNairy, vice president Kim Weeks, accounting specialist – receivables Joe Watson, facilities supervisor Sarah Blackmon, administrative coordinator Tiffany Boyd, resource desk coordinator

Investor Relations Amber Greenwood, vice president Kristy Drake, director, HREGI & ChamberON Donna McCrary, retention manager Richard Bigoney, account executive Tina Blankenship, account executive

Chamber Foundation

325 high-tech companies and growing... 27 of the Top 100 defense companies according to Defense News

Kent Ballard, Jr., workforce education specialist

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


Cummings Research Park

Associated Organizations

Your home among tech pioneers and innovators of Huntsville cummingsresearchpark.com theschoolsfoundation.org uah.edu/sbdc


initiatives dec 2020



“Try Huntsville” City earns several national media rankings during 2020


ven though 2020 has been a challenging year, Huntsville continued to receive numerous national rankings throughout the year and during the pandemic. Our city ranked on everything from best city, to most affordable city, to best in career opportunities. Let’s take a look at some of this year’s national rankings. Most recently, Huntsville ranked #3 on LinkedIn’s list of cities where veterans can find top-tier jobs. The article includes comments by local veteran Derek Sampson, who asked his Air Force friends in 2018 about the best destination for someone like him. “Try Huntsville,” they suggested. He told LinkedIn how his military background prepared him for success in the veteran-friendly Rocket City. “Living costs are low, and the people are friendly. Most important, as a newcomer to a city packed with defense contractors, he’s finding his military expertise is hugely valuable,” the article states. Meanwhile, Huntsville was ranked #2 in the nation by Smart Asset for Best Places for Career Opportunities during the COVID-19 Recession. “Huntsville, Alabama places in the top 10 of the study for two different categories: It had the sixth-lowest unemployment rate in May 2020, at 7.6 percent, and the eighth-highest income growth over a career, at 30.47 percent.” Huntsville was ranked #1 by U.S. News & World Report for Best Affordable Place to Live. “Settling down in one of the cities below could do wonders for your wallet. Based on the median gross rent and annual housing costs for mortgage-paying homeowners of each metro area, these are the cities with the lowest cost of living in the country.” Zippia ranked Huntsville the Happiest City in the State of Alabama! Zippia compared and analyzed cities in a few ways: ■ Being well educated (population with at least a bachelor’s degree) ■ Percent of households earning above $75,000 ■ Median home prices ■ A short commute to work (traffic = unhappiness)

■ Having a family (getting, and staying married, has a ton of happiness benefits, on average) Huntsville ranked #15 in the nation in U.S. News & World Report’s annual Best Places to Live listing. U.S. News analyzed the 150 most populous metro areas to find the best places to live. To make the top of the list, a place had to have good value, be a desirable place to live, have a strong job market and a high quality of life. Business Insider ranked Huntsville #1 on its list of “The 19 best cities in the South to live in after the coronavirus pandemic.” Decatur, Ala. came in at No. 19. The listing used a variety of metrics from government and academic datasets, including looking at the share of jobs that can potentially be done remotely, the pre-coronavirus unemployment rate, and housing costs. Business Insider also ranked Huntsville among the top 30 American Cities to live in after the pandemic. Site Selectors Guild ranked Huntsville a top mid-size city for new location or expansion projects. To that end, Huntsville has announced at least 900 new jobs to our area throughout this year. Huntsville ranked #7 for high-tech employment concentration by Milken Institute. WalletHub gave us two national rankings at the beginning of the year. They ranked Huntsville #11 in the country for our job market and named Huntsville as one of the best cities in the country for a staycation. A reminder, we post all of these rankings on our Chamber website. In fact, we keep a flier updated that you can easily download and email to prospects as you recruit for your company. Just visit hsvchamber.org, mouse over “News” at the top and click “Media Recognition.” As we reflect on this year and the many challenges that came with it, our city stayed strong, provided residents a safe and affordable place to live, and gave numerous job seekers an opportunity to relocate. Here’s to 2021 and even better things to come. ■ Katelyn Sides Baker Workforce Recruitment Director Economic Development, Industry Relations & Workforce


EARN 10k


when you spend $3,000 in the first 90 days1 ($150 value!) No Annual Fee2 | Competitive Rates | Unlimited Rewards

REDSTONE’S ® VISA SIGNATURE Apply in online banking today. Must be a Redstone Federal Credit Union® (RFCU®) member to obtain a loan. Must be eligible for membership and open a share savings account to join RFCU. $5 minimum balance is required to open a share savings account and must be maintained in share savings account at all times. All annual percentage rates (APRs) are based on creditworthiness at account opening. Variable APRs vary with U.S. Prime Rate. Rates, terms, and conditions are subject to change without notice. Other restrictions may apply. RFCU is an Equal Credit Opportunity Lender. Must have online banking and PIN/password to access online application. 1 You will receive 10,000 MyChoice Rewards bonus points when you spend $3,000. To qualify and receive the bonus MyChoice Rewards points, you must charge the qualifying amount or more in purchases (minus returns, credits, and adjustments) within the first 90 days from account opening (promotional period), using your Redstone Visa Signature credit card. The bonus MyChoice Rewards points do not apply to balance transfers, credit card checks, or overdrafts. Your Redstone Visa Signature credit card must be open and in good standing at the time of bonus MyChoice Rewards points fulfillment. Allow 45 days after promotional period has ended for bonus MyChoice Rewards points to post to your account. Visit www.redfcu.org/personal/credits-cards/visa-signature/ for more information about how to earn points through the MyChoice Rewards Program. For existing cardholders, log in to online banking for terms and conditions of MyChoice Rewards Program. 2 As of November 1, 2020, the annual percentage rates (APR) for variable rate products are as low as 8.00% – 11.50% (Visa Signature). Variable APRs will vary with the U.S. Prime Rate. Rates, terms, and conditions are subject to change without notice. Other restrictions may apply. RFCU is an Equal Credit Opportunity Lender. Visa® is a registered trademark of Visa International Services Association.

This credit union is federally insured by the National Credit Union Administration.

800-234-1234 | redfcu.org

Profile for Huntsville/Madison County Chamber

Initiatives - December 2020  

SHOP SMALL, SAVE LOCAL Encouraging shoppers to support our local merchants this holiday season – in this issue we profile eight local small...

Initiatives - December 2020  

SHOP SMALL, SAVE LOCAL Encouraging shoppers to support our local merchants this holiday season – in this issue we profile eight local small...