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APR 2021

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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 12th largest healthcare law firm in the U.S. by Modern Healthcare


Attorneys from across all offices listed in The Best Lawyers in America® for 2021

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. ©2021


Joined in January 2021 America's Thrift Stores Blaque Cigar Lounge Canadian Bakin Bread The Cottages at Old Monrovia Handel's Homemade Ice Cream and Yogurt since 1945 Hope Autism Clinic Language Solutions, Inc. Leadec Lori Coucke State Farm NAMI Huntsville Pool Pro Inc Restoration Financial Services LLC System High Corporation

Joined in February 2021 A Better Choice Realty ACE Solar LLC Alabama Center for Counseling, LLC Blue Origin Cheeseburger Bobby's Click Synergy Coldwell Banker Commercial McLain Real Estate Jeffrey Bishop Cornerstone Detention Products Crown Castle Cummings Aerospace, Inc. D&F Equipment Sales, Inc. Demiere Cosmetics FarmHaus By Watermark First Stop, Inc. Global Evolution Marketing, LLC Green Mountain Research Inc. Gresham Smith Gulf Distributing Co. of Alabama, LLC Hydro Green Erosion Control Jacobs Missile Defense Group Maxwell Roofing & Sheet Metal, Inc. Patriots International Rocket City Digital, LLC Ronin International, LLC Stephen Ward & Associates T2S Solutions The Veggie Velcro Rhino Xtralis by Honeywell


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Become a Chamber Member In addition to investing in the economic growth of the entire region, as a Chamber member, you receive a variety of important benefits: ■ Build business relationships, create partnerships, and grow your

business ■ Listing in the online Membership Directory ■ Specially designed professional development programs to grow

your talent and strengthen your business ■ Attract talent to your business with complimentary listings of

your company’s job opportunities on asmartplace.com ■ Brand exposure through the Chamber’s multimedia platforms to

fellow member companies and the region’s business community ■ Priority communications to keep you updated on the latest

business news and information impacting your business

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

Promote Your Restaurant / Retail Business 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.




AS OF MARCH 12, 2021



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




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

PROGRESS PARTNERS Ability Plus, Inc. ■ Aerojet Rocketdyne ■ Anglin Reichmann Armstrong, P.C. ■ ASRC Federal ■ B.L. Harbert International, LLC ■ Baron Services, Inc. ■ BASF Corporation ■ BB&T, now Truist ■ 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) ■ PNC Bank ■ Progress Bank ■ Radiance Technologies, Inc. ■ RE/MAX Alliance ■ Robins & Morton ■ RUAG Space USA Inc. ■ Steak-Out (Rosie’s Restaurants, Inc., & Right Way Restaurants, Inc.) ■ Venturi, LLC ■ Woody Anderson Ford


PROGRESS INVESTORS Air Essentials, Inc. ■ Alpha Beta Technologies, Inc. ■ Amanda Howard | Sotheby’s International Realty ■ 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 ■ DC BLOX, Inc. ■ deciBel Research ■ Deloitte ■ DESE Research, Inc. ■ Express Employment Professionals ■ FITE Building Company ■ FLS Translation & Interpreting ■ Fountain, Parker, Harbarger & Associates, LLC ■ Freedom Real Estate & Capital, LLC ■ Garver, LLC ■ 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. ■ MSB Analytics, Inc. ■ nLogic, LLC ■ PALCO ■ PHOENIX ■ Pinnacle Solutions, Inc. ■ PROJECTXYZ, Inc. ■ QTEC Aerospace ■ Quadrus Corporation ■ Renasant Bank ■ RJ Young Company ■ Rosenblum Realty, Inc. ■ S&ME, Inc. ■ Schoel Engineering Company, Inc. ■ ServisFirst Bank ■ Sigmatech, Inc. ■ Signalink, Inc. ■ Snelling ■ Systems Products and Solutions, Inc. ■ TriVector Services, Inc. ■ Troy 7, Inc. ■ TTL, Inc. ■ ValleyMLS.com ■ Valor Communities ■ Van Valkenburgh & Wilkinson Properties, Inc. ■ Volkert, Inc. ■ Warren Averett, LLC ■ Wilmer & Lee, P.A.

For more information, contact Kristy Drake, Vice President, Investor Relations: 256-535-2036 or kdrake@hsvchamber.org.


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table of contents INITIATIVES MAGAZINE – APR 2021

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




(see staff listing on page 34) Chamber members: You are encouraged to contribute ideas for our publications. Please send items to comms@hsvchamber.org. The Huntsville/Madison County Chamber maintains editorial control.


on the cover

■ Types of Races ■ Schedule of Events ■ Athletes to Watch

Oz Sanchez, U.S. Paralympics Cycling Photo by Casey B. Gibson

editorial staff publisher Chip Cherry, CCE

feature stories

editor Claire Aiello



editorial designer Kristi Sherrard



contributing writers











Kristy Drake Erin Koshut Adam Smith Mike Ward, CCE

advertising Kristy Drake

Infrastructure update from the City of Huntsville

New Redstone-Huntsville Utilities partnership Working to curb vaccine hesitancy Oakwood University lives out its mission

Party Life: 2020 Small Business Award Winner profile

Focus Physiotherapy: 2020 Small Business Award Winner profile


Richard Bigoney rbigoney@hsvchamber.org

Tina Blankenship tblankenship@hsvchamber.org

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








CAUSE & EFFECT: ChamberON Supports the Community


HREGI PROFILE: Venturi, LLC with John R. Jordan, Jr.




THANKS! to Our Awesome Teachers – in pictures

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


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a message from chip cherry

Executive Committee & Board of Directors 2021


Executive Committee

Dear Chamber Investors, Community Leaders, and Friends: Our community will host an amazing group of athletes for the U.S. Paralympics Cycling Open the weekend of April 17-18 in Cummings Research Park. These men and women are competing to represent Team USA in the Paralympics that will take place in Tokyo this summer. I encourage you to go to either hsvchamber.org or cummingsresearchpark.com to learn more about the event and the athletes. The event is COVID safe and family friendly – you can set up your chairs along the course and monitor the races via the special YouTube feed which will provide live updates from the announcers calling the races at the finish line. Join us as we enjoy a weekend in CRP and cheer on these world class athletes! The pandemic has reminded us of the vital role educators play in our community. Just as our lives have been turned upside down, our teachers have had to adapt, find ways to stay connected to their students in a virtual environment and then provide in-person instruction and remain COVID safe. On page 35, you will see a tribute to our educators. It’s a small way to say thank you to a group of people who have done so much for our young people! Roads – all over our community you see orange cones and jersey barriers. These are signs of progress that better roads are just around the corner. Transportation infrastructure is something we take for granted; however, all we have to do is to visit Nashville or Austin to understand what happens if growth outpaces road construction. We are fortunate that the Restore Our Roads Program was put in place to address critical road projects. This was an innovative approach that is yielding positive results. I encourage you to learn more by reading an update on page 15. We owe a huge debt to our healthcare professionals, support staff, and essential workers. The vaccination clinic in the Jaycee Building at John Hunt Park has been a model that others should seek to emulate. It is bittersweet as we wish David Spillers congratulations on his recently announced retirement this summer from the Huntsville Hospital System. In his role as CEO, David has marshalled the system through a period of significant growth and led the HHS Team through the pandemic with great skill and insight. Through the last year, Huntsville Hospital, Crestwood Medical Center, HEMSI, Alabama Department of Public Health, Emergency Management Agency, Team Redstone, Mayors Battle and Finley, and Chairman Strong have worked together to bring a critical, united voice to our community. This has truly helped us navigate through unprecedented challenges. Thank you all! I look forward to when we can meet in person.

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



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Jeff Gronberg, Board Chair – deciBel Research, Inc. Greg Brown, Chair-elect – Brown Precision, Inc. Kevin Byrnes, Immediate Past Chair – Navigator International, LLC Ron Poteat, President, Chamber Foundation – Regions Bank Jeff Samz, Secretary/Treasurer – Huntsville Hospital Dr. Karockas Watkins, Vice Chair, Diversity, Equity & Inclusion – Ability Plus, Inc.

Lynn Troy, Vice Chair, Economic Development & Workforce – Troy 7, Inc. Craig Naudain, Vice Chair, Government & Public Affairs – SAIC Sameer Singhal, Vice Chair, HREGI – CFD Research Corporation McKinley James, Vice Chair, Marketing & Communications – Polaris Industries, Inc.

Jim Rogers, Vice Chair, Membership – Lockheed Martin Corporation Jami Peyton, Vice Chair, Small Business & Events – Canvas, Inc. Joe Ritch, Vice Chair, Tennessee Valley BRAC – Sirote & Permutt, PC April Mason, Chair-Appointed – Toyota Motor Manufacturing Alabama, Inc. Alicia Ryan, Chair-Appointed – LSINC Corporation Frank Williams, Chair-Appointed – Landers McLarty Dodge Chrysler Jeep

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

Elected board Blake Bentley, SportsMED Orthopaedic Surgery and Spine Center David Bier, Anglin Reichmann Armstrong, P.C. Penny Billings, BancorpSouth - Huntsville Thomas Busby, CenterState Bank Katie Comer, Facebook Data Center Tom Conard, The Boeing Conpany Brett Crain, Huntsville Tractor & Equipment Inc. Melissa Davis, MTA, Inc. Mike Dewitz, PARSONS John Eagan, BB&T, now Truist Kevin Fernandez, Fernandez Financial Group Owen Franklin, Franklin Creative Solutions Joni Green, Five Stones Research Corporation Ginger Harper, IBERIABANK Josh Herren, Yulista Jan Hess, Teledyne Brown Engineering, Inc. Lee Holland, Freedom Real Estate and Capital, LLC Tharon Honeycutt, MSB Analytics, Inc. Amanda Howard, Amanda Howard | Sotheby’s International Realty Laura Huckabee-Jennings, Transcend, The Fearless Co. Lincoln Hudson, Booz Allen Hamilton, Inc. Tyce Hudson, Turner Construction Company Hank Isenberg, IronMountain Solutions Lauren Johannesmeyer, Google Fiber, Huntsville Michelle Jordan, TARCOG Sean Kelly, Regions Bank Clint Kirkland, Progress Bank Todd May, KBR Bob McCaleb, Northrop Grumman Corporation Kevin McCombs, BAE Systems-Electronic Systems Alana Parker, Rocket City Drywall & Supply, Inc. Zack Penney, Bill Penney Toyota/Mitsubishi Chris Russell, Cadence Bank Beth Sippel, Synovus Wayne Sisco, Redstone Federal Credit Union Tom Stanton, ADTRAN, Inc. Sandra Stephens, Keel Point, LLC Mitch Stevison, Raytheon Technologies Nilmini Thompson, Systems Products and Solutions, Inc. Mark Vaporis, Intrepid Mike Watkins, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Alabama John Watson, Torch Technologies A HUNTSVILLE/MADISON COUNTY CHAMBER PUBLICATION

Forward Thinking

Chamber’s State and Federal Agendas point the way to continued growth


n important part of the Chamber’s mission, “to prepare, develop, and promote our community for economic growth,” is accomplished in partnership with our local, state and federal government partners, crafting an environment that both permits and encourages growth. We are grateful to the members of the Alabama Congressional delegation, the Madison County Legislative Delegation, Governor Kay Ivey, and the other leaders in state government for their leadership on the issues critical to our nation’s defense and space policies, especially those affecting the Huntsville/Madison County region. With their support, our region continues to prosper as a science and technology powerhouse. A healthy partnership with our government partners is critical to our region’s continued success. To help our elected leaders to focus on the most critical supportive policies, the Chamber develops both a State and Federal Agenda annually. This year’s agendas focus on a wide variety of programs and policies. The Federal Agenda requests continued vigilance on the U.S. Space Command site selection decision; timely passage of appropriations, including full funding for space exploration and defense and Army modernization programs managed at Redstone. We also support restoring congressionally directed appropriations (earmarks) as well as


initiatives apr 2021

the widest possible use of the Aviation and Missile Center capabilities; Infrastructure development and COVID relief to impacted businesses. The agenda expresses support for Hypersonic Weapon System Development & Demonstration and Directed Energy Weapons; Bioscience; and allowing an increase of the cap on local Passenger Facility Charges (PFCs) at Huntsville International Airport. Key issues included in the State Agenda: reauthorizing/enhancing Alabama’s economic development environment; biosciences; Pre-K–12 education; Medicaid expansion; workforce development/ career awareness/workforce recruitment; infrastructure roads; broadband; updating Alabama’s antiquated alcohol laws & support for local distillers, brewers, and wineries; childcare; ending predatory lending; support for the Alabama Community College System; COVID relief for impacted sectors of the economy; investments in higher education; supporting the region’s advanced workforce; social/civil justice; supporting appointed superintendents & boards of education; support for the Huntsville International Airport; expanding Alabama’s excellence in cybersecurity; and support for Exploration Park. Both agendas are available for view on hsvchamber.org. – Mike Ward, cce


workforce & economic development highlights COMPILED BY CLAIRE AIELLO

NCTHS students interview astronaut during national broadcast We recently participated in “The Path to Artemis III” – a virtual event with the U.S. Chamber that showcased some of the great work taking place at Marshall Space Flight Center to develop the necessary technology and hardware for sustained U.S. lunar operations. One part of the program featured students from Huntsville’s New Century Technology High School posing questions to NASA astronaut Mike Fincke about training, education, space suit materials, medicine storage, and more! Pictured here are Darrion Thomas (11th grade), Evelyn Torstenson (10th grade), Chris Phornroekngam (12th grade), Trinity Threatt (11th grade), and Davion McFall (12th grade). Their teacher is Ms. Caroline Reed.

Holy Spirit students get Space Mail Students at Holy Spirit School recently received mementos that traveled to space and back! Blue Origin invited local schools to participate in the “Club for the Future” program last year, and the concept is simple: students color a postcard with their hopes and dreams for the future, and Blue Origin flies these to space on a New Shepard rocket. Holy Spirit participated, along with several other local schools.

Text to 9-1-1 now accessible here The Huntsville-Madison County 9-1-1 Center now offers a textto 9-1-1 service. It should be considered a secondary option to dialing 9-1-1 from a cellular or landline phone, and should only be used if calling 9-1-1 is not possible, such as if the caller is deaf, hearing, or speech impaired; if speaking would be unsafe, as in a domestic violence situation or home invasion, or if the caller cannot speak due to a medical condition such as a stroke. This service is available to people who have cellular service with Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile, SouthernLINC, or Sprint.

Madison County Service Center opens Other parts of the program featured MSFC Director Jody Singer, Alabama Congresswoman Terri Sewell, Mississippi Congressman Steven Palazzo, and Destin Sandlin, host of Smarter Every Day on YouTube. The full video is posted on hsvchamber.org.

Need to renew your license or visit the probate office? The days of circling the Madison County Courthouse to grab a parking spot are behind you. The new Madison County Service Center is open at 1918 North Memorial Parkway and a number of departments have moved there. These include the License, Probate, Tax Assessor, and Tax Collector, and the Madison County Board of Registrars and Sales Tax departments have also moved there from Cook Avenue.

Several new accolades to announce Many companies are actively recruiting, and we have several new recognitions to share with you:

■ Milken Institute: Huntsville #10 in the 2021 Best Performing Cities Index ■ Site Selection: Huntsville at #7 on 2020 Top Metros by Total Projects, and #3 for Projects

per Capita ■ PureWow: Huntsville #8 in Top 10 Coolest Cities with the Lowest Cost of Living in the U.S. ■ FilterBuy: Huntsville is #2 in new list of midsize metros most prepared to work from home ■ United Van Lines: Huntsville #4 most moved-to city in 2020

Huntsville Championship tees off April 26 The inaugural Huntsville Championship will take place later this month at The Ledges. The dates are April 26 – May 2, and this is part of the newly named Korn Ferry Tour, the highest tier below the PGA Tour. Tickets are available for purchase on huntsvillechampionship.com. One of the programs the Huntsville Championship is establishing is Fore Cyber Progress, which will partner with the Community Foundation of Greater Huntsville, UAH, Alabama A&M University, Huntsville & Madison City Schools, and Madison County Schools and corporate partners in the DoD/government contracting space. The program includes a scholarship fund to support students who have a direct interest in a cyber-based degree. 12

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Having trouble tracking these on your own? We’ve made it easy for you. Visit hsvchamber.org/ accolades to see the latest additions. We update this often!

“We focused on convenience in areas including parking with more than 350 free parking spaces along with prompt service featuring a queuing system allowing residents to choose the reason for their visit while waiting in the spacious and comfortable lobby,” said Commission Chairman Dale Strong.

deciBel Research now employee-owned deciBel Research, Inc. a Huntsville-based radar system and sensor technologies company is now 100 percent employee-owned. deciBel Research transitioned from a privately held, small business to an employee-owned company through an Employee Stock Ownership Plan (ESOP) effective 1 January 2021. “In our industry we see many small businesses being acquired by private equity firms or larger A HUNTSVILLE/MADISON COUNTY CHAMBER PUBLICATION

corporations as owners execute their succession plan,” said Jeff Gronberg, CEO of deciBel Research. “Often small businesses become large businesses due to these transactions, thus impacting the status of the business, current contracts and customers, and causing a fundamental change in the culture and business development efforts. Our employees are the heart of the company’s success and we felt it was in the best interest of both our employees and customers for us to share that success with them and become an employee-owned company.”

Huntsville Amphitheater on track to open next year


There is a lot of buzz about the new Huntsville Amphitheater under construction near MidCity. It is scheduled to open in 2022 and will have the capacity to hold 8,000 people for music concerts, art festivals, and other cultural events. There are also plans for the venue to include a food village. The project is being developed by Huntsville Venue Group and the City of Huntsville.

“The success of the venue will rely heavily on an open relationship with the people of Huntsville and anticipate that it will be this knowledge, assistance, energy and passion that will both drive the venue forward and be paramount to it delivering a vital new part of the city’s landscape and hundreds of new jobs to the area,” said Ben Lovett, CEO of Huntsville Venue Group. Lovett is also a musician and member of the band Mumford & Sons.

enGenius celebrates 25 years enGenius Consulting Group, Inc. (enGenius) is celebrating 25 years of providing enhanced cyber and IT solutions in support of defense and other government agencies at the federal, state, and local levels. enGenius, established in 1996, is a graduated 8(a) Small Disadvantaged Business (SDB) with over 120 employees supporting highly complex projects worldwide. “SP Reddy started the company 25 years ago with the first contract coming from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in Huntsville,” said R. Bruce Bateman, president. “Over the past 25 years, we have expanded our footprint to 70 locations in 30 states as well as OCONUS work in Germany, Italy, Belgium, and South Korea. We are excited to be headquartered in the thriving environment such as Huntsville and look to the future in continuing to empower innovation while providing Software and Database Development, Software Engineering, IT Infrastructure Management, and Strategic Solutions to our Federal Clients and Teaming Partners.” Headquartered in Huntsville with a regional office in Atlanta, enGenius’ mission is to transform complex technology into simple, cost effective business solutions. Leaders, project teams, and partners focus on customers’ missions, objectives, strategies, and schedules. A HUNTSVILLE/MADISON COUNTY CHAMBER PUBLICATION

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When work wraps up on the widening of Interstate 565, peak-hour congestion like this could be a thing of the past. The state fast-tracked the project to accommodate traffic associated with the new Mazda Toyota Manufacturing facility off Greenbrier Parkway.

Restore Our Roads

City leaders say planning, partnerships key to strong infrastructure


f the adage is true that “development follows roads,” then Huntsthe Alabama Department of Transportation (ALDOT). The $250 milville’s growth shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone. The City’s major lion cost-sharing initiative focused on projects the Metropolitan Planarteries, collectors, and multi-lane surface streets make it easier to ning Organization (MPO) identified as priorities. move both products and people, which are attractive qualities to poRestore Our Roads launched during a time when projects in other tential businesses and industries. parts of the state were being canceled over a lack of funding. City DiThe cost to build and maintain roads isn’t cheap, and the process rector of Engineering Kathy Martin said some citizens questioned why can often take several years from conception to fruition. That aside, Huntsville would spend its own money to improve state and federal Mayor Tommy Battle and the City Council believe the return on inroads, but explained the City needed to be a part of the solution instead. vestment outweighs the cost and temporary irritation. “Without that agreement, I don’t know that we would be reaping Roads and infrastructure have been a major cornerstone of Mayor Batthe benefits we are today,” Martin said. “It was a bold move by our leadership, but it worked.” tle’s administration because he doesn’t want the City’s galactic growth Curtis Vincent, region engineer for ALDOT, explained the joint to result in rush-hour gridlock. He has long strived to ensure 15-minute funding agreement is a win-win for the state. He said Huntsville’s commutes for citizens, no matter where in the City they reside. “Right now, our transportation grid is our No. 1 priGreenbrier Parkway: City Director of Urban and Economic Development Shane Davis, right, and Mayor Tommy Battle ority,” he said. “We have to grow our infrastructure and survey progress on Greenbrier Parkway in road system; it’s part of our big master plan.”

A Quality of Life Issue

Huntsville-annexed Limestone County.

It’s easy to think of roads as nothing more than overpriced asphalt with a dividing line. Citizens tend to notice them more when they are in disrepair or if work impacts their commute. Huntsville’s transportation grid has played a major role in the City’s continued success in attracting large industries like Mazda Toyota Manufacturing (MTM), Polaris, Facebook and GE Aviation, to name a few. Those companies brought thousands of jobs to the Rocket City, but they are nothing but empty buildings if employees can’t get there. In the case of MTM, the City’s promise to improve three roads helped seal the deal. The largest of those projects is the four-lane Greenbrier Parkway, a $77.3 million four-lane highway that should open later this year. It spans from Interstate 565 to the south to Huntsville-Browns Ferry Road to the north, near the intersection of Interstate 65. “They have to get 6,400 people to work and back home, which is more than 12,000 trips per day,” Battle said of the MTM plant. “We needed to get workers in and get them back to their cars and homes quickly. That’s part of quality of life. Any time you can spend with your family or doing recreational activities, that’s what it’s all about.”

Restore Our Roads History Battle, who began his fourth mayoral term in 2020, has seen ambitious road projects come to fruition, thanks to both a progressive City Council and federal and state funding. When the Alabama Transportation Rehabilitation Improvement Program (ATRIP) kicked off in 2012, the Huntsville-Madison County area received the lion’s share of the funding. In 2014, Huntsville debuted Restore Our Roads, a partnership with A HUNTSVILLE/MADISON COUNTY CHAMBER PUBLICATION

own investment has helped land road dollars that might have been committed elsewhere. “Transportation funding is limited, and in a state facing an ever-growing backlog of capacity needs, projects must be prioritized,” he said. “For ALDOT, projects with that ‘bang-for-your-buck’ factor are certainly more attractive. This agreement presented an opportunity to double the return on state dollars in transportation improvements.”

Sidetracks Identifying, planning and completing projects may seem like a cutand-dry process, but there’s nothing simple about building roads. Road projects go through rigorous proposal, planning and approval processes before funding discussions even begin. There are also property and right-of-way acquisitions, which can result in legal system involvement. Martin said planning large-scale projects can often illuminate the need for smaller, related projects. For example, while planning improvements to South Parkway, another project was added – a connector off Benaroya Lane, to help ease congestion during construction. – continued on page 16 apr 2021 initiatives


Project Updates Today, three major projects are now in the rearview mirror: ■ Improvements to U.S. 72 East at Moores Mill and Shields Road ■ Improvements on South Memorial Parkway from Martin Road to Lily Flagg Road to include three new overpasses ■ The widening and resurfacing of Cecil Ashburn Drive, though a few punch-list items remain In-progress projects include: ■ Widening University Drive from Providence Main to County Line Road Project design is 30 percent complete, with a public involvement meeting scheduled for this fall. ALDOT anticipates right-of-way acquisition to begin in 2022.

■ Improving North Memorial Parkway between Mastin Lake Road and Winchester Road This $50 million project will put a new overpass at Mastin Lake Road and include 1.73 miles of improvements along North Parkway to include access management to Winchester Road. The project’s goal is to reduce congestion between Sparkman Drive and Winchester Road. ALDOT has completed right-of-way acquisition and cleared about 90 percent of impeding structures so far. Utility relocations are currently being performed, with roadway construction scheduled for late 2022.

■ Improving South Memorial Parkway between Weatherly to Hobbs roads A $15 million project, this will improve four miles of access and intersections. It will include closing and opening medians and reconfiguring driveway locations, turn lanes, intersections and access management to improve traffic flow. Design is 50 percent complete, though construction is on hold pending new development in the area. A virtual public involvement meeting about the project will be held this spring.

■ Completing the Northern Bypass from Pulaski Pike to U.S. 231 This $53 million project consists of 3.4 miles of four-line divided highway and one mile of road improvements along North Parkway. The project will be part of the City’s future loop road extending State Route 255 to connect Research Park Boulevard to Martin Luther King Boulevard, North Memorial Parkway, to Winchester Road, 72 East, 431 South, Cecil Ashburn Drive, and South Memorial Parkway. Design and right-of-way acquisition are nearly complete on this phase of the project, and utility relocations should begin later this year. Roadway construction is tentatively scheduled to start next year.

■ Widening State Route 255 (Research Park Boulevard) Though not originally a Restore Our Roads project, the list was amended to include improvements to State Route 255 (Research Park Boulevard) between U.S. 72 and Old Madison Pike (shown below). The $23.5 million project includes two new lanes along S.R. 255 and a new bridge at Old Madison Pike that will also accommodate pedestrians and cyclists. The project could wrap up in late 2021.


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The $50 million North Memorial Parkway project will put a new overpass at Mastin Lake Road and include 1.73 miles of improvements along North Parkway to include access to Winchester Road. Work on U.S. 72 and Memorial Parkway uncovered the need for new streetlights and other connector roads that became part of the Restore our Roads initiative. The planned six-laning of U.S. 72 from Providence Main to County Line Road resulted in expediting major improvements to the intersection of U.S. 72 and County Line Road while design continued for the remainder of the project. “We were able to pull that smaller project out and get it done,” Martin said, adding it was the quickest way to provide benefits to the community.

The Future Restore Our Roads will undoubtedly improve commutes for Huntsville citizens and visitors, but there are other projects of importance to Battle’s administration. Three of those would have long-term impacts on Huntsville’s road infrastructure and growth. “It is an exciting time to be in the civil engineering profession and have the involvement of so many unique projects that are occurring due to the economic success and growth of Huntsville,” Vincent said. The widening of I-565 from I-65 to County Line Road will ease rush-hour congestion and accommodate Mazda Toyota Manufacturing workers entering and exiting from the Greenbrier Parkway interchange. The bulk of the construction work is complete and awaits resurfacing this spring. Martin said the City is also looking at improvements to the I-565 and Memorial Parkway interchange. “It needs attention,” she said, adding it wouldn’t get better without taking an initial step to bring attention to the project. Also under consideration is a bypass that would parallel Memorial Parkway and ease congestion on both Interstate 565 and the Parkway. That project may soon transition from possibility to necessity with FBI’s relocation at Redstone Arsenal and Huntsville’s selection as the preferred site of U.S. Space Command headquarters. “That would give us a secondary outlet to Memorial Parkway, and it would provide us a relief valve,” Battle said. “When the Arsenal goes from 40,000 people to 55,000, that will be important to us.” Martin said none of the projects underway or on the horizon would be possible without the City’s leadership. She credited Battle and the Council for being proactive in their approach. “Restore Our Roads really moved the needle in our transportation infrastructure because Huntsville had the initiative to go to ALDOT and say, ‘The City is willing to put up 50 cents on the dollar (toward these projects),’” she said. “Huntsville’s never been one to just sit back and watch.” Visit HuntsvilleAL.gov/roadworkprojects to learn more about Huntsville’s road projects. – Adam Smith, City of Huntsville A HUNTSVILLE/MADISON COUNTY CHAMBER PUBLICATION

Come Cheer for Team USA! Public is invited to U.S. Paralympics Cycling Open in Huntsville Claire Aiello




ll are invited to Cummings Research Park (CRP) the weekend of April 17-18 to cheer on more than 100 premier athletes competing for a spot on Team USA. The U.S. Paralympics Cycling Open presented by Toyota is the first of four domestic cycling events set to take place ahead of the Paralympic Games, which will be held in Tokyo in late August. This is the return to racing for many of the athletes, as competition was cancelled in 2020 due to the pandemic. The Huntsville event will serve as a selection race for world cup races in Belgium and Italy, where Team USA Para-cyclists will seek qualification and selection for the Paralympic Games. “As a proud partner of Team USA and U.S. Paralympics Cycling, and a long-standing partner with the City of Huntsville and Huntsville/Madison County Chamber, it’s an honor for Toyota to present the U.S. Paralympics Cycling Open,” said April Mason, general manager of administration, Toyota Motor Manufacturing Alabama. “We’re excited that they’re hosting such an important event in Huntsville, home to our Toyota Alabama team members, and we look forward to supporting our partners and their needs to host a successful event.” Planning for the Huntsville event has been underway for months. Athletes will travel from around the Southeast and the U.S. to compete, and we even have a Paralympian who lives right here in Alabama! The public is welcome, and no tickets are needed. Come and locate along the course with your family and cheer on the racers as they loop around Explorer Boulevard. “Cummings Research Park has been the site of several events for runners and cyclists over the years,” said Erin Koshut, the Park’s Executive Director. “With our wide streets, plenty of miles, low vehicle traffic on weekends and great locations for spectators, CRP is well suited to play host to these exemplary athletes on their journey to Tokyo. I know our more than 320 companies in the Park look forward to supporting the athletes and the Paralympics in this endeavor.” The events will take place rain or shine. Even though Alabama’s mask mandate will be lifted by race weekend, attendees are encouraged to follow current CDC guidelines. We will have signs posted along the race course encouraging families to space apart. We’ve shared information with our local schools to encourage students to make posters, to give a big “Rocket City Welcome” to the athletes and their support teams. We encourage companies along the race course in CRP to invite employees and families out for the day and have a big show of support. Special thanks to our local sponsors who are helping make this happen: Toyota Motor Manufacturing Alabama, Huntsville/Madison County Convention & Visitors Bureau, Raytheon Technologies, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Alabama, PHOENIX, Aerojet Rocketdyne, Nesin Physical Therapy, and KBR.


We’ve posted lots of information on hsvchamber.org and cummingsresearchpark.com, including a spectator guide with course maps, competition schedule, parking details, and much more for optimum race viewing.

Saturday, April 17 This day is for Individual Time Trials – athletes race against the clock to earn their best time possible. Events start at 9 a.m. and run until about 3 p.m. with awards ceremonies to follow. The course starts at Columbia High School and follows a 15-kilometer lap around the Park, including into the campus of HudsonAlpha Institute for Biotechnology and up and around the McMillian Park Double Helix Trail, exiting back and eventually ending at the high school for the finish line. Athletes in some categories complete one lap, and others complete two.

Sunday, April 18 Sunday is for Road Races, and the course is 12.1 kilometers. Depending on the category and classification, racers will complete between two and six laps. These events also start and finish at Columbia High School, using all of Explorer Boulevard as well as Moquin, Discovery, and Mark C Smith Drives. Sunday’s races start at 8:30 a.m. and conclude by 4:30 p.m.

Types of Races You’ll See You’ll see a variety of cyclists in this event: ■ Handcycle athletes compete using an arm-powered or arm trunk power hand bike where a recumbent position is mandatory. In another type of handcycling, athletes compete from a kneeling position. You will see both types at the Huntsville event. ■ Tricycle athletes are unable to ride a bicycle due to lack of balance and/or restriction in pedaling due to spasticity/ dystonia. Severe locomotor dysfunction can be mixed pattern (athetosis/dystonia/spasticity and/or ataxia) of unilateral or bilateral involvement. ■ Cycling and tandem athletes are able to compete with a standard bicycle and cyclists with a vision impairment race tandem with a sighted cycler in front. ■ Sport Class B applies to athletes with a visual impairment who meet the Minimum Impairment Criteria. While there is one sport class for athletes with a vision impairment in Para-cycling (B), athletes are designated B1, B2, B3 in the Classification Master List in accordance with the IBSA visual classes.

Athletes to Watch The Para-cyclists you’ll see have incredible backgrounds. Many have overcome remarkable odds to compete. Some were born with a disability while others may have been injured years later. In fact, many are veterans who suffered an injury during their time in the service. Jennifer Schuble competes in four cycling events, including time trial, road race, pursuit and team sprint. She is a current resident of Homewood, Alabama, and is a three-time Paralympian (2008, 2012, 2016) and five-time Paralympic medalist (1 gold, 3 silvers, 1 bronze). She said she is very excited the race weekend is just a short drive from her home. “I’m like a kid in candy land, I am so happy I don’t have to pack up my bikes and fly,” said Schuble. “I just get to drive up I-65, and it will be the first time I’ve seen my teammates in over a year. For me, it’s extra special, because it’s local, and I’ll be able to share with people who aren’t from this area that Alabama is really a great place to train. You can ride year round, and we have really good roads to ride on too.” Schuble, 44, has a military background. While attending the United States Military Academy at West Point to become a commissions officer, Schuble was a varsity athlete in three separate sports. During hand-to-hand combat class, she sustained a traumatic brain injury. She sustained an additional TBI later in a car wreck, and in 2004, she was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. This led her to the Lakeshore Foundation, a Paralympic training site in Birmingham, Alabama,


where she was encouraged to get into cycling and started in 2007. In 2008, she won a gold medal and set a world record in the 500-meter time trial at the Paralympic Games Beijing 2008. She was the first female in the world to compete in team sprint as Team USA was the only country to do it. At London 2012, she was the first woman to medal as a part of team sprint. When Schuble is not competing, she works as an industrial engineer.


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Here are a few other athletes you’ll want to watch:

Oz Sanchez is one of the top handcyclists in the world and competes in the time trial and road race events. Sanchez is a three-time Paralympian (2008, CREDIT: TEAM USA

2012, 2016) and a six-time Paralympic medalist (2 golds, 1 silver, 3 bronzes). Sanchez grew up in Los Angeles and spent six years as a member of the U.S. Marine Corps. He became a part of the Special Forces unit, deploying twice to the Middle East. In 2001, while in the process of transferring to the Navy to become a Navy SEAL, Sanchez was involved in a motorcycle accident that injured his spinal cord. He started handcycling competitively five years after the accident. He was a 2012 ESPY nominee in the Best Male Athlete with a Disability category. He graduated from San Diego State University in 2006 with a degree in Business Administration and was named the 2009 San Diego Hall of Champions Athlete of the Year. His story is featured in the 2009 documentary Unbeaten.

Ryan Boyle

is a tricyclist, competing in the time trial and road race events. Boyle competed in his first Paralympic Games in 2016 where he won silver in the road time trial in Rio. In October of 2003, Boyle acquired a traumatic brain injury while riding a Big Wheel where he was hit and dragged by a pick-up truck causing him to immediately go into a coma. Emergency brain surgery was performed to save Boyle’s life, but he lost a portion of the back of his brain. At the age of 10, he had to learn to how to breathe, swallow, talk, eat, stand, sit and walk all over again. Boyle wrote his own book titled, “When the Lights Go Out: A Boy Given a Second Chance,” when he was a freshman in high school. He is a resident athlete at the U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colorado, and attended the University of Colorado - Colorado Springs.


Will Groulx is a six-time Paralympic medalist (2 golds, 2 silvers, 2 bronzes) and four-time Paralympian while competing in wheelchair rugby (2004, 2008,


2012) and cycling (2016). Looking to make his second cycling appearance at the Paralympic Games, Groulx competes in time trial and road racing in the H2 class. Groulx served in the United States Navy from 1995-2001 before a motorcycle accident left him paralyzed from the chest down. Seven months after the accident, Groulx discovered wheelchair rugby and was immediately interested. His Paralympic career began with making three U.S. Paralympic Teams before switching to handcycling. Prior to his injury, he served as a nuclear-trained electrician’s mate and diver on a fast-track submarine stationed out of Norfolk, Virginia. Before joining the Navy, he attended the University of Tennessee on a volleyball scholarship. Groulx was nominated for an ESPY in the Best Male Athlete with a Disability category in 2009 and was named the U.S. Quad Rugby Association Athlete of the Year in 2010.

Oksana Masters competes in three sports: biathlon, cross country skiing, and road cycling. She is a four-time Paralympian (2012, 2014,

2016, 2018) and eight-time Paralympic medalist (2 golds, 3 silvers, 3 bronzes). Masters was born in Ukraine, with both of her legs damaged by in-utero radiation poisoning from the Chernobyl nuclear reactor incident. She was born with six toes on each foot, five webbed fingers on each hand and no thumbs. Her left leg was six inches shorter than her right and both were missing weight-bearing bones, and she was diagnosed with Tibia Hemimilla. After living in three orphanages, she was adopted at the age of seven. Over the course of seven years, she would have both legs amputated. At age 13, she began rowing. In 2011, she met her rowing partner Rob Jones, and brought home a bronze medal from the Paralympic Games London 2012. She began skiing immediately after, training for 14 months leading up to the Paralympic Winter Games Sochi 2014. She would leave Russia with a silver and bronze medal. Due to a back injury after Sochi, she took up cycling as a recovery process and to help maintain her fitness. She qualified for the Paralympic Games Rio 2016 and finished just off the podium, fourth, in the road race. Just recently, Masters earned 6 gold medals at the Para Nordic World Cup which puts her total gold medal count at 50 for her skiing career. Masters lists her mom, Gay, as her personal hero.


Clara Brown has been competing in the Para-cycling world championship circuit for two years and has already won six medals (2 golds, 2 silvers, 2



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bronzes) with hopes of competing in her first Paralympic Games. Brown competes in three events: individual pursuit, time trial and road race. The postponement from the COVID pandemic has allowed Brown the opportunity to try out for Tokyo, since she would have been unable to compete last year due to injury. Brown was an avid athlete competing as a competitive gymnast, runner and skier before sustaining an incomplete spinal cord injury at the C5/C6 level at age 12. After several years of physical rehabilitation, and some unexpected compounding injuries, Brown joined her high school rowing team as a coxswain. After rowing in high school and early college, she sought a competitive activity powered by her own means and purchased her first modified road bike her freshman year of college, which ignited her passion for bikes as a means of transportation and as a way to stay active. After graduating, she was hired at a bike touring company where one of her clients served on the USOPC’s Paralympic Advisory Committee and encouraged her to race competitively. Brown was invited to a talent ID camp in Colorado Springs, Colorado, in June of 2018, and then proceeded to compete at the third Para-cycling road world cup in Baie Comeau, Quebec, in August of 2018, taking bronze in the road race.



Madison County

City of Huntsville

City of Madison

Huntsville Metro Area

community profile

2010 Census






2019 Census est.









% Growth HOUSEHOLDS & INCOME # of Households





Avg. Household Income





Per Capita Income





As of March 2021

Sources: U.S. Census Bureau (www.census.gov), 2019 American Community Survey Estimates

Top 10 Employers: Huntsville & Madison County U.S. Army/Redstone Arsenal* . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 38,000* Huntsville Hospital System . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 9,352 NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center* . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 6,000 Huntsville City Schools . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3,000 The Boeing Company . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2,900 Dynetics, Inc. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2,796 SAIC . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2,746 Madison County Schools . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2,389 City of Huntsville . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2,206 Northrop Grumman Corporation . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1,970 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. Currently, 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 320 companies and 26,500 people involved in technology research and development.

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CRP Food Truck Fests:

Better Together

Mark Your Calendar!


he Cummings Research Park (CRP) Food Truck Fests return this month amidst what we are sure will be great weather and will definitely include continued safety protocols. Our first event is Tuesday, April 13 from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Each month we will have several great trucks ready to serve you local, fast and tasty fare. Take a break from your regular lunch options and join us outside. Again this year, we will have spaced-out seating in the shade. We wipe down all tables and chairs in between uses so that you can feel safe enjoying your lunch experience in the Park. Thanks to our presenting sponsor, Renasant Bank, and our gold sponsor, enVention, LLC! Make your plans to join us the 2nd Tuesday of each month through November from 11-1 at 990 Explorer Boulevard. We want to thank Intrepid for again allowing us to use their convenient location! You can find these Park events on our CRP website and if you subscribe to our CRP mailing list, we will be sure to send you a friendly reminder each month! What’s that, you say, you don’t subscribe to our CRP mailing list? Visit cummingsresearchpark. com and sign up at the top right of our homepage. – Erin Koshut

New Redstone-Huntsville Utilities partnership strengthens each other


s Redstone Arsenal has grown, the community has helped to meet its infrastructure needs by working with local, state and federal government partners to develop needed capacity. Such partnerships include the City of Huntsville’s waste-to-energy plant that supplies steam to the Arsenal for its heating and cooling needs by burning the region’s solid waste, providing a tremendous win-win for both the base and the community. The City also partnered with Redstone to develop Redstone Gateway, a 470-acre Army Enhanced Use Lease (EUL) mixed-use office/hotel/retail development at the main entrance to the Base. Ultimately this EUL will provide over 4 million square feet of developed space and millions of dollars to help meet Redstone’s operational requirements. The city and state also built senior officer quarters on the base, and widened significant portions of the major access roads both on and off post to accommodate Redstone’s growth. The Redstone/Huntsville partnership grew even stronger with the recent Intergovernmental Support Agreement (IGSA) between Redstone and Huntsville Utilities. The IGSA is a public-public partnership that authorizes the Military Services to receive, provide, or share installation support services with a state or local government. The scope of the work provides for the operations and maintenance of the electric, water, and gas systems on Redstone Arsenal. Huntsville Utilities will inspect, repair, and maintain all existing utility components and will provide all personnel, equipment, supplies, materials, supervision and other items and electronic services to perform these services at Redstone. You may not realize it, but Redstone’s infrastructure is the size of a small city. They have the following:

■ 248 miles of overhead electricity distribution ■ 145 miles of underground electricity distribution ■ 46 miles of transmission lines ■ 22 substations ■ 298 miles of water pipe ■ 1,202 water valves ■ 7 water storage tanks ■ 3 water treatment plants ■ 67 miles of gas pipe ■ 542 gas regulators ■ 265 gas valves “This IGSA is a huge success for the Army, Redstone Arsenal, and the Huntsville community,” said Ivan Bolden, chief of Army Partnerships at The Pentagon. “As a partner, Huntsville Utilities will bring many years of local utilities operational expertise and experience to be applied to Redstone’s utility infrastructure, and additional capacity to support future mission growth. Huntsville has always been overwhelmingly ‘military friendly’ and this partnership underscores the long-standing commitment of the community’s leadership.”


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A 1 MW / 2 megawatt-hour battery energy storage system is coupled with a 10 MW on-site solar array at Redstone Arsenal, Alabama. “This agreement has been discussed in various forms for many years, but came into focus in this form two years ago,” said Wes Kelley, president & CEO of Huntsville Utilities. “It’s a wonderful opportunity to enhance Army readiness, promote cost savings/cost avoidance, gain efficiencies, improve the quality of life for soldiers and families, and strengthen installation-community relationships. Huntsville Utilities is proud to have the trust of Army leadership both on Redstone Arsenal and at The Pentagon to operate and maintain their utility infrastructure on base.” Mike Counts, vice president of Operations with Huntsville Utilities, echoed that sentiment. “This IGSA represents a win-win for all parties involved. RSA will gain the advantage of 370+ operational staff at Huntsville Utilities,” said Counts. “The additional staff and equipment needed to perform the services outlined in the IGSA will be on-hand to respond to emergencies and/or problems throughout our service area (Huntsville/Madison County) and RSA, enhancing our flexibility and level of service for all our customers.” The Huntsville/Madison County community and the greater Tennessee Valley region have consistently demonstrated sustained and effective strategies to promote collaboration with Redstone Arsenal since the Arsenal was first established. These open lines of communications have led to an outstanding level of community support for the base. – Mike Ward, cce


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Give Me Your Best Shot

Hospitals, community leaders work to curb vaccine hesitancy


s more COVID vaccines are approved and produced, it’s important that we all roll up our sleeve when it’s our turn. Johnson & Johnson’s one-dose vaccine is now approved for use, and the two-dose Pfizer and Moderna vaccines continue to be distributed in our local community through Huntsville Hospital and the Alabama Department of Public Health. Thousands are on local waiting lists to get the vaccine when there is enough supply, but others may not know how to sign up, or may be skeptical to do so. “We were seeing early on that people of color were having mixed emotions about taking the vaccine,” said Tracy Doughty, Huntsville Hospital’s senior vice president of Operations. “There’s a long history of inequities in healthcare, in people of color receiving health care, and we didn’t want this to be one of those times. We wanted to create some strategic messaging so that when their age or profession was called, they could work through Doughty their hesitancy and get the vaccine.” Huntsville Hospital published a series of social media videos in February featuring African American doctors, nurses, and elected leaders encouraging people to trust the science and take the vaccine. The hospital has also been working with Speakin’ Out News, the Huntsville Urban Network, sororities, fraternities, and other groups to amplify the message further. Additionally, they have worked with predominantly Black churches, visiting with a supply of vaccine, having the churches bring in childcare workers, clergy, and older members who may not have computer or smartphone access to sign up for the waiting list. Churches include Union Hill Primitive Baptist, Union Chapel Missionary Baptist, and Progressive Union Missionary Baptist. Huntsville Hospital is also working with Huntsville Housing Authority to visit The Todd and Johnson Towers. “We’ll go to them, because many of those residents can’t get to us,” added Doughty. “We’re trying to tackle this on both ends. Whether it’s through vaccine hesitancy or access to get here – we want to address it and help solve this.”

Elected Leader Support Many of our elected leaders are sharing vaccine information with residents, including Madison County Commissioner Violet Edwards. “My office has built our campaign around three central ideas: Education, Information, and Relief. Our goal is to help empower each individual to make science-based decisions about their health and the health of their loved ones,” said Edwards. Edwards’ initiatives included partnering with the Huntsville-Mad-


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ison County Emergency Management Agency to provide 500 reusable masks to seniors and families with children, partnering with Huntsville Hospital and Thrive Alabama to provide free COVID-19 testing at the Bob Harrison Senior Wellness and Advocacy Center, and hosting virtual panels with medical professionals to separate fact versus fiction when it comes to taking the vaccine. This included conversations in English and Spanish. “We are engaging at every level from school-aged Edwards to seniors. This is my top priority because I fundamentally believe that together we can combat this virus,” said Edwards. “We will continue to roll out efforts, tackling everything from rental assistance to education. We are not just engaging our community and district but the whole of Madison County. We have got a lot done and we have no plans of slowing down now.” City Councilman John Meredith is sharing also sharing word with residents of Huntsville’s District 5. “COVID is the scourge of our lifetime. It is quickly becoming the number one cause of death in America, and probably within the communities of color as well,” Meredith said in the video he recorded for Huntsville Hospital. “When your time comes to take the COVID vaccine, please sign up. The sooner you get your vaccine, the sooner we can get out of these masks and go back to life as normal.”

Need a Ride to a Vaccine Appointment? United Way of Madison County is helping those who may need a ride to a vaccine appointment once scheduled with a healthcare provider. Through Ride United, you can call 211 to schedule a ride. Ride United is made possible through a partnership with Lyft, and is supported financially by Toyota Motor North America, General Motors, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Alabama, and Progress Bank. “This initiative will truly make a difference in our neighbors’ health and the health of our community,” said Cathy Miller, UWMC Community Impact Director. “It’s a tangible example of what United Way has done for 78 years: identify needs and bring solutions to the table – redefining what’s possible.” Ride United is an established transportation solution in our community, providing more than 1,500 rides in the past year for people needing rides to employment and pre-employment opportunities as well as a limited number of rides to medical appointments. – Claire Aiello A HUNTSVILLE/MADISON COUNTY CHAMBER PUBLICATION

Cause & Effect

Supporting the Chamber supports your community


aking sure that our Chamber members have access to outstanding development and professional programs, business services and events is our top priority. With your support, we are able to provide many of these resources through membership dues and ChamberON – our annual sponsorship campaign. By supporting the Chamber through ChamberON sponsorships, your company has a direct impact into the success of our entire community. Increased member participation in Chamber activities such as ChamberON helps us to prepare, develop, and promote our community for economic growth. Why participate in ChamberON? The Huntsville/Madison County Chamber has been working for this community since 1894 – and that’s a long time! A glance through history books will show you how we’ve helped turn a great community into a thriving, progressive, and modern metro – and we did that with the help of our Chamber members.


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We have a highly energized group of ChamberON volunteers who give a tremendous amount of their time to connect with Chamber members who are looking to be more actively engaged in the Chamber’s mission through sponsorship opportunities. These volunteers are your personal conduit to an enhanced Chamber ROI! ChamberON has value for every type of business and organization – from investing in annual events to high-impact marketing assets. There are wonderful sponsorship opportunities at every level for companies to receive value from ChamberON investment. Let the Chamber staff help you grow and promote your business! The current campaign runs through June 30, 2021. For more information about ChamberON, our 2021 volunteers, and to view sponsorship opportunities, visit hsvchamber.org/chamberon or contact Kristy Drake, Chamber Vice President of Investor Relations, at 256-535-2036. – Staff Reports



John R. Jordan, Jr., President Venturi, LLC

Tell us about your business... Venturi is a home-grown Huntsville company founded in 2006 by Mike Alvarez to provide engineering, logistics, and test support for the U.S. Government. The team has grown to 200 employees, and today, you can find Venturi employees around the world providing skilled services and expertise for our nation’s defense. The company owes its success to the team of professionals who call it home, and we continue our tradition of a strong peoplefocused culture as we integrate into Chenega Corporation, an Alaska Native-Owned company, which acquired Venturi in 2019. We remain deeply committed to our customers’ missions and to our community through the Venturi Brighter Day Employee Fund that should surpass a cumulative total of $1M in local grants sometime this year.

Many companies had challenges through the pandemic, for different reasons. Did your company face any issues, or, opportunities you didn’t expect? What a year! 2020, continuing into 2021, has been a challenging time for everyone and tragic for too many of us. From the start of the pandemic, Venturi worked with our government customers and industry partners to implement flexible working arrangements. The government’s ability and willingness to embrace telework as well as staggered in-office shifts and distanced work accommodations enabled Venturi to continue without a gap in service. All in all, we worked through every challenge with no gaps in service.

What has our community’s growth meant for you? We are fortunate to be headquartered in one of the most vibrant and upbeat areas of the country. Huntsville and its regional growth has generated steadily improving living standards, expanding education and entertainment options, and produced an increasingly diversified workforce. These building blocks are essential to attract, develop and retain a successful team.

What would you say to other businesses considering an investment in the Huntsville/Madison County Chamber? Do it! Our Chamber is world class, and being a part of it not only provides a solid business connection to customers and industry partners, it also gives members a strong voice in the ongoing development of our community. Venturi’s HREGI investment and engagement with the Chamber have helped us grow and achieve our goals – we are proud to be a Chamber supporter!


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Healthy Campus, Healthy Community

Oakwood University living out its mission to improve lives on and off campus


akwood University’s new Community Health Action Center is on target to open by the first of June. This is the latest offering by the campus to serve and improve lives of students and nearby residents, and is the result of a multi-phased plan with extensive study, showing the clinic is needed. “Our research showed many in the community suffer from health challenges that many associate with health disparities,” said Dr. Prudence Pollard, Oakwood’s vice president for Quality, Research, and Faculty Development. “We also saw job insecurity and food insecurity. Those are related to health, especially now during COVID, with people losing jobs.” Oakwood University and Huntsville Hospital signed a partnership agreement for the Center on February 24 (at right). Hospital staff will perform checkups and triage care, and Oakwood will support the operation in a number of ways, including


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through hands-on training for students in various tracts. For example, nursing students will teach cardiovascular classes, and students in nutrition and dietetics will teach sessions on food preparation. Nursing students will also do rotations to get experience in patient care, and education students will help with story hour and other teaching activities with children. There will also be a food pantry. The school’s research shows the health center will fill other needs, besides medical care. “We are concerned for single parents,” said Dr. Pollard. “We did analytics on zip code 35816 and households are primarily single female-headed, with income below the poverty level, and an average of three children. We know the children need afterschool care, and we also wanted to establish a weekend program to give the parent some breathing room.” Oakwood University raised $3 million from alumni and friends of the school to


Oakwood University launched its Mobile Market in February to address “food deserts” in the community. Their goal is accessibility and affordability.

fund the health center. They are working to raise $1 million more. The Center is a new facet of Oakwood’s Healthy Campus, Healthy Community initiative. The school also operates a mobile food pantry that visits nearby neighborhoods to sell fresh fruits and vegetables at discounted prices. “We check grocery prices, and take the low price leader in Huntsville and go below the prices 40 to 60 percent,” said Dr. Pollard. “Income is a major factor for many of the people we serve. We also accept EBT cards.” The food truck also visits six Huntsville Housing Authority locations per week. Student health ambassadors run the truck, interacting with customers and handling sales. When the school learned


they needed additional transportation support for the students, they applied to a grant program offered through BB&T, now Truist. The need was soon fulfilled. “We plan to send four students – right now, we have two, but we’re working to onboard some more to accompany the mobile market,” said Dr. Pollard. This phase of serving the community follows earlier work started in 2013 to put a strong focus on improving student health. Through that research, Oakwood University has implemented Healthy Campus 2020, which begins each August. Students get a biometric assessment to track and manage their own health. Some are appointed as health ambassadors, to train and encourage other students in their journeys. Several improvements have also been made throughout campus, for example, with healthier food offerings in vending machines. – Claire Aiello

apr 2021 initiatives


Staying Visible & Vigilant

Party Life named 2020 Local “Creative” of the Year


e continue our profiles throughout the year of winners from the Huntsville/Madison County Chamber’s 2020 Small Business Awards, held virtually in October. Party Life, LLC was named Local “Creative” of the Year. Husband and wife team Turkesa and Agyei Lanier established Party Life in 2015. The company offers unique transportation options, focusing on a fun and safe experience for the customer. “We specialize in reliable, luxury transportation at an affordable price, while providing the city peace of mind that citizens aren't on the road drinking and driving,” said Turkesa Lanier. “The Party Life buses cater to corporate events, weddings, birthdays, Quinceañeras, proms, bachelor & bachelorette parties, as well as other events. We’re more than transportation, we’re an experience.” The COVID-19 pandemic was very tough for the business, though. Just a few months before it started, the couple had bought a new vehicle for their fleet. “We were ready to hit the ground running in 2020. We prepared a new marketing strategy and new, innovative ways to increase revenue. However, the pandemic put us completely on pause,” she said. The Laniers sold the vehicle due to the uncertainty of where the year would head, and also lost reservations and revenue during what would have been prom season, March through May. “We remained idle for two months; however, we realized the importance of remaining visible during this time frame,” said Turkesa. “The goal was to remain in the public eyesight regardless of whether the business was operating or not in order to remain relevant. Therefore, we didn't stop marketing even though we were closed – we just minimized our campaigns to small social media ads and posts.” The marketing wasn’t always for


initiatives apr 2021

people to utilize the bus, she explained, but sometimes to simply provide encouragement. “This alone kept us relevant and also showed our compassion for what the entire world was going through. By continuing this strategic marketing, business is now picking back up because we remained visible and relevant during the most critical times of the pandemic,” she said. Party Life is still in business five years after forming, and Lanier says she considers that the company’s greatest achievement besides winning the Small Business Award. “Winning this award made me proud,” said Lanier. “It made me realize that all of the years of hard work put into this business in order to provide this service to the masses has not been in vain. I felt that our strides over these few short years are now being recognized and for that we’re forever grateful.” “When we started this business we had no idea what the outcome would be or how it would take off,” she added. “We didn’t even know if people would understand what a party bus was here in Alabama. It was definitely a ‘take a chance and see’ situation that turned out to be amazing! So, being around is the ultimate achievement!” Lanier says she and her husband hope to grow the business over the next 10 years. When asked what advice she has for other small business owners, she encourages them to be persistent. “My advice is don’t give up -because just when you do, you might’ve been right at your breakthrough. Also, continue to educate yourself on your industry, as all industries are ever-changing,” said Lanier. “Last, don’t be afraid of growth! Which is something I need to work on. But growth ultimately means transitioning to bigger and better.” – Claire Aiello A HUNTSVILLE/MADISON COUNTY CHAMBER PUBLICATION

Creative Solutions

Focus Physiotherapy Huntsville: 2020 Medical Practice of the Year


ocus Physiotherapy Huntsville won the Medical Practice of the Year Award in the Huntsville/Madison County Chamber’s 2020 Small Business Awards. Focus Physiotherapy was founded in 2015 by Jonathan Zecher, a native of Huntsville with over 20 years of experience in patient care, teaching, and mentoring.

“We started with the goal to recruit and equip clinicians to provide expert, personalized physical therapy to our community,” said Zecher. Zecher started with one clinic in Huntsville five years ago. The team then expanded to Madison, and despite the financial uncertainties of 2020, recently opened a third location in Northeast Huntsville to serve areas including New Market, Gurley, Owens Cross Roads and greater Madison County. Focus Physiotherapy has now served more than 8,500 people through offering a comprehensive therapy approach to help people who suffer from pain because of injury or because of issues related to the normal aging process. “At Focus we provide personalized, expert physical therapy and utilize the same physical therapist at every visit to foster a caring and trusting relationship. This approach addresses the emotional and behavioral needs that often go unaddressed in traditional physical therapy models and often leads to better and quicker outcomes saving the patient time and money,” said Zecher. “All of our therapists are trained to help clients with muscle and joint pain or injuries, including things like plantar fasciitis, arthritis, post-operative rehabilitation, neck and low back pain, headaches, TMJ, as well as dizziness and vertigo. We also offer wellness services A HUNTSVILLE/MADISON COUNTY CHAMBER PUBLICATION

to help people transition back to work, play, and life in general once they have overcome an acute injury or illness. Our therapists have additional training in areas such as advanced hands-on techniques and dry needling for the most complicated of cases.” Focus stayed open through the pandemic, and actually saw a significant increase in patients who came in with neck pain and back pain, due to working from home – where most people don’t have ergonomic workstations like at the office. “The greatest challenge for us was to provide care for these individuals when people were still in great fear of coming into a healthcare facility,” said Zecher. “However, our comprehensive plan to ensure we could protect our staff and our patients during the uncertainty of the pandemic has allowed us to serve our patients responsibly and effectively.” What are the plans for the next 10 years? “The company would like to continue to grow its ability to serve the communities of north Alabama by adding practitioners who share our values and increasing the number of locations,” said Zecher. He said winning the 2020 Small Business Award really encouraged the team, reinforcing that the values the company embodies are effectively building a strong business. “Even more importantly, we feel this award is affirmation that we are making a difference in a meaningful way in the lives of people in our community, which is what matters most to us,” he added. Zecher offered this advice to others. “One thing I feel makes any small business successful is the ability to find creative solutions to the challenges you face,” he said. “That depends on building a team who shares your values and vision but has a variety of strengths and perspectives to see opportunities from many angles.” – Claire Aiello apr 2021 initiatives



Executive Staff | also Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Chip Cherry, CCE, president & CEO Meghan Nazario, executive assistant

Economic Development & Workforce Lucia Cape, CCE, senior vice president Erin Koshut, executive director, Cummings Research Park Lydia Pennington, workforce development director John Roberts, business retention & expansion director Ken Smith, research & information services director

Finance & Administration Mary McNairy, vice president Meghan Nazario, accounting specialist – payables Kim Weeks, accounting specialist – receivables Joe Watson, facilities supervisor Tiffany Boyd, resource desk coordinator

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

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

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

Membership Kristy Drake, vice president, investor relations Donna McCrary, retention manager Richard Bigoney, account executive Tina Blankenship, account executive

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

Now featured online:


hsvchamber.org/movers-shakers theschoolsfoundation.org


initiatives apr 2021



Thank You, Teachers! We never imagined a school year like the one we’ve had, and you have stood strong while facing hurdle after hurdle. We are so appreciative of the job you do, the care you give your students, and your commitment to excellence. We support you!

Profile for Huntsville/Madison County Chamber

Initiatives - April 2021  

Cover story: Come Cheer for Team USA

Initiatives - April 2021  

Cover story: Come Cheer for Team USA