Initiatives - August 2021

Page 1

AUG 2021

Sponsored by


ONE, page 22




Since first putting down roots in Alabama more than 150 years ago, Bradley has grown to serve our clients’ changing needs. With more than 550 attorneys in 10 offices, Bradley is strategically located across the highest economic growth region of the United States – so we can provide timely and cost-effective services wherever needed. As a national law firm with a global perspective, Bradley provides clients in Huntsville, North Alabama, the United States and around the world with critical legal capabilities in a broad range of industries. Our clients count on us for responsiveness, innovation and results – and 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 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 | 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,, Bradley Arant Boult Cummings LLP, 200 Clinton Avenue West, Suite 900, Huntsville, AL 35801. ©2021

A new day. A new beginning. It all starts with amazing care in a new facility nestled at the base of Monte Sano – the mountain of health. The Orthopedic & Spine teams move to a new free-standing tower which is likely to become a destination for people seeking life-improving treatment options — a new beginning to do the important things in life. It’s what people want from orthopedic and spine treatment.

Huntsville, Alabama •


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

Joined in May 2021 Agility Aerospace, LLC AIRtec, Inc. Atlantic AYSO Region 160 Bravo! Cucina Italiana The Building People CDG Homes LLC - Capstone Realty Chamber Benefits, Incorporated Church Street Family Businesses Club Pilates West Huntsville Compass-HSV, Inc. Crumbl Cookies Designs by Essence, LLC Events By J Raphael Exiger Federal Solutions FedEx Food Bank of North Alabama Huntsville Hospital Corporate Care Lilly’s Loft, LLC Madison Metal Processing The Masters Salon Maximum Technology Corporation Pet Supplies Plus Pure Barre Huntsville Ruchi Restaurants Stratice TPG, Inc. United Cerebral Palsy of Huntsville and Tennessee Valley, Inc. USfalcon, Inc. White Azalea Wedding & Event Venue Xlera Solutions, LLC

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


initiatives AUG 2021

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 ■ 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

Joined in June 2021 1 on 1 Technical College of Huntsville Applied Research Associates, Inc. (ARA) Aramark Facilities AVIQ Hsv Inc. BDO Below The Radar Brewery & Restaurant Better Homes + Gardens Real Estate Big Communications BryMak & Associates, Inc. Century Construction Group Charlie Foster’s, LLC Cherokee Nation Environmental Solutions Doster Construction Company, Inc. ECS Southeast, LLP EOD Gear Expedia Cruises Air Land & Sea Vacations Harmonia Holdings Group, LLC Leeland Ventures, LLC Leo Tech, LLC NesinFIT, LLC New Era Technologies, LLC The Olive Branch RE/MAX Distinctive Rocket City Property Management Solerity Spectrum VOIP UniFirst Corporation Uniti Fiber Holdings, Inc.




AS OF JULY 15, 2021



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




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

PROGRESS PARTNERS Ability Plus, Inc. ■ Aerojet Rocketdyne ■ 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 ■ Integration Innovation, Inc. (i3) ■ Keel Point, LLC ■ Leonardo Electronics US Inc. ■ LSINC Corporation ■ Marsh & McLennan Agency, locally known as J. Smith Lanier & Co. ■ The Orthopaedic Center (TOC) ■ 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 Accenture Federal Services ■ 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 ■ 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 ■ L3Harris ■ The Lioce Group, Inc. ■ MSB Analytics, Inc. ■ nLogic, LLC ■ PALCO ■ Phoenix ■ Pinnacle Solutions, Inc. ■ PROJECTXYZ, Inc. ■ QTEC Aerospace ■ Quadrus Corporation ■ Renasant Bank ■ RJ Young Company ■ Rosenblum Realty, Inc. ■ 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. ■ ■ 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


AUG 2021 initiatives


table of contents INITIATIVES MAGAZINE – AUG 2021

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



(see staff listing on page 42)

pages 22-27

Chamber members: You are encouraged to contribute ideas for our publications. Please send items to The Huntsville/Madison County Chamber maintains editorial control.

Mazda Toyota Manufacturing & suppliers are involved in full-scale effort to build up workforce + Spotlight on two FAME grads now working at MTM

on the cover MTM Team One member Photo by Jeff White Photography

feature stories 10





















Kristy Drake



Richard Bigoney





editorial staff publisher Chip Cherry, CCE editor Claire Aiello editorial designer Kristi Sherrard contributing writers

Kayla Carlile Erin Koshut Lydia Pennington John Roberts Deborah Storey

Tina Blankenship

CRP: Pivotal Past, Present, and Future Prosperity

Part 2 in our Economic Development Series FBI, Amazon, Axient & more

Bocar US ramps up to full production at Huntsville facility

Cepeda, Lewis: winners of the 2020 Executive Leadership Award Fraudulent unemployment claims: Employers, be alert

Three school systems beef up summer enrichment opportunities ASCTE students at Oakwood through this year

Facebook announces expansion to Huntsville Data Center campus

Educational summer camps teach hands-on life skills for future success Bekah Schmidt: 2020 Young Professional of the Year

CSSA - 2020 Gov. Contracting Prof. Services Business of the Year

Huntsville International Airport adds new low-cost carrier

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.


HREGI PROFILE: Bryant Bank with Ken Watson


BEST PLACES TO WORK®: 2020 Contenders




ARMED FORCES CELEBRATION: Recap of June-July events in pictures


HEADING TO TOKYO: Several Para-cyclists who competed here advance



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


AUG 2021 initiatives


a message from chip cherry

Executive Committee & Board of Directors 2021


Executive Committee

Dear Chamber Investors, Community Leaders, and Friends: What a difference a year makes. Last summer, we were all struggling with striking a balance between keeping our families and colleagues safe while at the same time delivering goods and services to our customers. We were seeking answers and direction while striving for insights on what the future would hold. Always at the front of our minds was: “When will this end?” On August 17, we will host our Annual Membership Meeting, which will be a celebration of partnerships, teamwork, and the leadership that is the foundation of our success. I am often asked what makes our region so successful. My response is, the core of our success comes from the belief that what benefits the region is good for all. The engineering mindset is a key underpinning – define the problem (or opportunity), break it down, consider options, develop a solution (strategy), decide who owns which aspects of the plan, implement (adjusting as needed), and celebrate the win as a community – and then repeat the process for the next challenge/opportunity. Add a layer of servant leadership, and you have a recipe for success. Having grown up in a military community, I am very aware of how special the relationship is between our region and those who serve or have served in the military. We make it a priority to celebrate service and honor sacrifice through events such as the Gold Star Reception, the Proclamation Signing, the Community Softball Game, Concert in the Park, and the Armed Forces Luncheon. To all who serve, have served, and support them – Thank You! For those who have lost a loved one while serving, we mourn their loss and celebrate their memory. Congratulations to the Best Places to Work® Contenders. These organizations embrace feedback from their employees and use it to chart a course to excellence. While the journey can be challenging, the effort often yields amazing results. As you travel through Greenbrier and see the Mazda Toyota Manufacturing (MTM) complex and the suppliers located in the area, you begin to gain an appreciation for the Team it takes to produce a vehicle. In this case, they will be producing two vehicles. The cover story for this issue focuses on Team ONE – the combination of MTM and the suppliers who will produce the world-class vehicles that will begin rolling off the assembly line later this year. I encourage you to read the article and learn how the members of Team ONE will put our community on the map as the home of the best automotive OEM in North America. I am excited that we are returning to in-person events this month! Seeing you on Zoom is no substitute for getting together in person. I look forward to seeing you at a Chamber event very soon!

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



initiatives AUG 2021

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 – Dentons Sirote 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

Looking for Convenient Healthcare? We’re accepting new patients. With 12 convenient locations throughout Madison County, Crestwood Medical Group offers primary care along with a variety of specialties to meet your family’s needs. We accept most major health plans. Find a complete list of locations and providers at

MEDICAL GROUP 1-888-261-3422 Online scheduling at

Innovation Location

Cummings Research Park: Pivotal Past, Present, and Future Prosperity


here are pivotal moments in our community’s industrial and technological growth that have and will continue to take place. The year 1962 was one of those. Cummings Research Park – currently the nation’s second largest research park – was created that year. From those early strategies and development has emerged a pre-eminent and world-class Park that encompasses all areas of technology-forward industries: aerospace, defense, IT/software, biotech, and advanced manufacturing. Another pivotal moment for CRP was the creation of the first-ever comprehensive master plan in 2016. This plan looked at the Park as an inclusive entity and featured new directions and guidelines for forward-leaning industries, development, and density. And here we are at another pivotal moment for the Park – in fact, one could say two moments. This year is the five-year anniversary of the 2016 master plan. The master plan was designed for 50 years of CRP success but also created a five-year project plan, for an ability to both review and tweak for the next five years. Beginning this month, we roll out a stakeholder review and the opportunity to provide input as we update the plan. You will see this at the Chamber’s Annual Membership Meeting. You will see this across emails, surveys, and focus groups. Our stakeholders will have a voice in how the plan is updated. In five years, we’ve had private developments, public infrastructure, and engaging community activities. As we roll out stakeholder feedback, we will outline those so that you too can marvel at all that has occurred in a short five years. On the heels of an updated CRP master plan, we turn to 2022, the 60th anniversary of Cummings Research Park. Every decade we are given the opportunity to reflect on just how far the Park has come – just how much companies and entities inside the Park have contributed to the economic vitality of Huntsville. We are excited to celebrate the Park turning the big 60 next year! Our celebration will be all year long in both big and small ways, and here are a few teasers of several special events planned. We want you to be a part of this celebration with us! The summer of 2022 brings the Battle of the Brews presented by Radiance Tech-


initiatives AUG 2021

nologies. Held around Lake 4, local breweries will compete to see who’s got the best CRP brew – as selected by local judges and those attending. This will be a great event to get your young professionals involved in, and we’ll have live music, food trucks, and more to round out this fun day! Fall of 2022 brings two more special events recognizing the 60th Anniversary. We will host a 60th Celebration Luncheon presented by Teledyne Brown Engineering. The luncheon will both celebrate our accomplishments and look ahead at what’s next, with several special recognitions and a national keynote speaker to put us in the frame of mind for celebrating, advocating, and curating the next 60 years of CRP’s success. And finally, to round out the anniversary celebration, we are having a CRP Family Fun Day! Bring the family and make a day of it inside CRP – from an expo-style activities fair around Lake 4, activities for the young and old alike, including a candy drop for the young kids, live music, food trucks, and we will end the day with a drive-in movie at MidCity. Want to sponsor or be involved in our 2022 special events? Just let Kristy Drake or Erin Koshut know: or ekoshut@ We’d love to have you along for the ride! – Erin Koshut A HUNTSVILLE/MADISON COUNTY CHAMBER PUBLICATION

Series by Deborah Storey


The Changing Face of Downtown

Huntsville: looking back 30 years ago, to now


hirty years ago, visitors to downtown Huntsville could dine at Bubba’s Restaurant on Washington Street, stop for ice cream at Gorin’s next door and stroll past law offices – lots and lots of law offices – for fun. For fine dining, you needed a membership at the Heritage Club. If you walked the sidewalks with a beer, you could have been arrested. Going home meant getting in the car and driving back to your neighborhood. If you worked downtown, usually it was because you were employed by local government or one of those lawyers on the square. But at some point a magical transformation occurred downtown, and quickly, it seems in retrospect. Tower cranes began stacking high-rise office buildings. Luxury lofts lured young professionals. Gleaming multi-story hotels sprouted to replace a deteriorated Hilton. First one, then two, then more than a half-dozen restaurants served up gourmet dining. Community leaders who have observed downtown’s explosive growth would argue that the change was neither magic nor quick. Vision, strategy, a good local economy, and leadership helped. Chad Emerson, president and CEO of the booster organization Downtown Huntsville, Inc., said there isn’t a firm number for the total economic investment downtown in the last decade, “but it’s at least over $750 million.” Publix at Twickenham Square opened in May 2014 and anchors a development with bustling restaurants and shops. Gourmet restaurants like Cotton Row, Domaine South, Purveyor, and the Poppy and Parliament cater to discriminating tastes. Belk Hudson, 301 East, and Artisan lofts offer chic urban living. Redstone Federal Credit Union opened a five-story location on Davis Circle in late 2020. Lodging has seen the most dramatic change. In the 1990s, the number of hotel rooms available downtown was 277, according to Charles Winters, executive vice president of the Huntsville/Madison County Convention and Visitors Bureau. Those were all in the Huntsville Hilton, which opened in 1975 and closed as a Holiday Inn in 2014. Embassy Suites brought another 295 in 2006. SpringHill Suites added 149 in 2011. Homewood Suites opened 101 rooms A HUNTSVILLE/MADISON COUNTY CHAMBER PUBLICATION

in 2014, AC Hotel by Marriott 120 more in 2019. Downtown now has 665 hotel rooms, but 106 Jefferson Curio by Hilton opens in July with 115, and Hampton Inn and Suites later this year with 150 more. In 2022, Autograph will add 187 and Hyatt House another 145. Emerson said Huntsville’s downtown appeal starts with good bones – natural assets like beautiful park spaces, interesting architecture, plus convenient access to Memorial Parkway, I-565, and the Von Braun Center. The DHI group added some creative ideas to the mix.

“We’re trying to attract people to the heart of the city,” he said, with features like pop-up parks, food events, better signs, the holiday Tinsel Trail, and rental bicycles. “All these things that encourage people to walk around and explore versus just appreciating beautiful architecture from the windshield of their car,” he said. One concept is “third places,” Emerson said, or areas where people linger for a cup of coffee, tea, or brewery beer. Sidewalk dining – once not even allowed – attracts all demographics.

continued on page 14 AUG 2021 initiatives


“When you make an emotional connection, you go back to places that you love, and people love downtown,” said Emerson. One novel idea was adapting 20 spaces in the Clinton Avenue parking deck and ground-floor storage units across the street to accommodate small businesses. “You’re walking by, and you see record shops, you see flower shops, you see gift shops,” Emerson said. “Now the city, when they built the new deck at Greene and Holmes, from day one they included retail.” DGX in that parking deck is Alabama’s first urban store from Dollar General – a little like a big-city bodega. In August of 2013, city leaders passed the so-called “purple cup” open-container ordinance to create a downtown Arts and Entertainment District called Quigley, named after an old mapmaker. “It’s really an entertainment district that allows people to walk to art walks, to walk to food truck rallies, to enjoy the architecture, while enjoying their favorite local craft beverage,” Emerson said. Walking downtown is “one of the most relaxing things you can do, so why not be able to have a glass of wine while you do it?” Dennis Madsen, manager of Urban and Long-Range Planning for the City of Huntsville, points to the city’s first food truck event as significant in showcasing downtown. Even though it had only one or two trucks, “the event was mobbed,” he said. “Personally, that felt like a turning point,” he said. He credits DHI for innovative ideas but said it’s really a “confluence of things” that have made downtown vibrant. “There’s kind of a national trend toward more reurbanization and rediscovery of downtowns and the parts of our communities that are historically unique,” Madsen said, as “opposed to things that you can find anywhere.” Both Madsen and Emerson cite the city’s downtown master plan as key to its success.


initiatives AUG 2021

“I don’t think it’s a coincidence that not long after the master plan was adopted by the Planning Commission and the City Council that you started seeing new hotels pop up, that you started seeing new development pop up, often times in the areas that we had articulated in the master plan as being places we wanted to target,” said Madsen. In 2007, former Huntsville City Schools Madsen Superintendent Dr. Mary Jane Caylor became executive director of Big Spring Partners, an organization that would become Downtown Huntsville, Inc. In the 1940s, ’50s and ‘60s, downtown was in its heyday, she said, but by the 1970s, there was a fear among leaders that businesses would board up and move to the suburbs. When the I-565 spur opened in 1991, it had a “huge effect,” she said. “It brought people directly into downtown.” Expansions of the Von Braun Center and arts offerings are factors, too, Caylor said. So is the fact that it’s “the seat of city and county government. “It was the vision of the leadership to have a community of live, work, and play, and I think it has really come to fruition,” Caylor Emerson said. There’s still a need for more office and living space downtown, Emerson and Madsen agree. “Just about every market category, we have unmet demand for,” Emerson said. “The biggest one right now is for-purchase condos.” Downtown office vacancy is just two percent, he said. The last major piece of the downtown puzzle was revealed in June. City leaders announced a partnership with New York City-based Rocket Development Partners, LLC, to develop the 13acre site of the former Coca-Cola bottling plant at 514 Clinton Ave. Shane Davis, Huntsville’s director of Urban and Economic Development, called the location the “gateway to downtown.” As the largest open property available for development downtown, it will include retail, offices, housing, and a garage as part of a $235 million project. ARTIST RENDERINGS

“There’s a phrase that we’ve become known for – creative placemaking,” said Emerson. It includes public art and the decorative lights that glitter across Clinton Avenue.

There’s still one open slot in the puzzle. The surface parking lot on Clinton Avenue near Huntsville Utilities is “the next big site that the master plan process identified that we need to develop,” said Emerson. – Deborah Storey A HUNTSVILLE/MADISON COUNTY CHAMBER PUBLICATION


Ken Watson, President Bryant Bank

Tell us about your business... Bryant Bank was founded in 2005 with the vision to see every Alabamian experience a financially stable future and live in a thriving community. We are an Alabama-based, family-owned and operated bank that will continue to be Bryant Bank for generations to come, which will result in a consistency in how we do business that will benefit our customers and communities. Our bankers put care into action each and every day to help our customers and community reach their full potential.

What would you like others to know about your team? We put our communities across the state first as we seek to be a trusted advisor, not just a service provider, for everyone who walks in our door. Through the good times and the more challenging periods, our bankers are here to help families and businesses to achieve their financial goals. Our bankers will offer sound and honest advice at all times. We believe our helpful staff and our willingness to lend a hand are what make a difference for others. From the top down, our entire bank is committed to making a lasting impact on those we serve as we work to provide stability for fellow Alabamians.

The pandemic has brought many challenges for customers and employees. What kinds of adjustments have you made? As an essential business, our customers counted on us to keep “business as usual,” and our bankers eagerly rose to the occasion. Although we had to make adjustments to how we operated, we were able to meet our customers’ needs by utilizing drive-thru, curb-side, and digital banking services. Our bankers were called to action during the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loan process and swiftly responded during this critical time, many working from home and outside of what most would consider “bankers’ hours.”

What would you say to other businesses considering an investment in the Huntsville/Madison County Chamber? We were asked to become an HREGI investor in 2007 and agreed, without hesitation. HREGI serves an integral role in supporting Madison County’s economic growth, and Bryant Bank is a proud supporter of the Chamber’s efforts and initiatives to strengthen our community. All businesses should be eager to support HREGI so they can have access to all of the benefits the Chamber provides, not only to strengthen business and professional connections, but also to grow the economy in our region as well. A HUNTSVILLE/MADISON COUNTY CHAMBER PUBLICATION

AUG 2021 initiatives


Congratulations, BP2W Contenders! MICRO: 10-24 employees 1st Edge Alion Bailey Consulting Services Boecore, Inc. ClearTrack HR LLC Corporate Office Properties Trust (COPT) Cortina Solutions, LLC Croy Engineering

Davis Strategic Innovations, Inc. Flint River Dental – Winchester Rd Focus Physiotherapy Huntsville Franklin Creative Solutions Goodall Homes GTEC, LLC Johnson Orthodontics Mission Multiplier

Patriots International Practical Energetics Research, Inc. Pure Barre – Huntsville Radial Solutions, Inc. (RSi) Redstone Title Services Resolution, LLC Rippleworx River Tree Insurance Services, Inc. Stratagem Solutions, Inc.

KODA Technologies Inc. MartinFederal Maximum Technology Corporation Mb Solutions, Inc. Mission Driven Research Nesin Therapy Services, PC Phased n Research, Inc.

PPT Solutions, Inc. Signalink, Inc. T2S Solutions Troy 7, Inc. United Cerebral Palsy of Huntsville & Tennessee Valley, Inc. Verity Integrated Systems Warren Averett, LLC

SMALL: 25-50 employees Axxeum, Inc CALIBRE Systems, Inc. Crossflow Technologies, Inc. FiberRise Communications, LLC H2L Solutions Huntsville Botanical Garden Invariant Corporation


initiatives AUG 2021



ur Best Places to Work® competition recognizes businesses that create an excellent workplace culture through employee engagement, strong leadership, and communication. Our 2021 event is scheduled for Tuesday, Aug. 31, at the Von Braun Center, where we will announce the winners. Congratulations to all the Contenders!

MEDIUM: 51-100 employees

LARGE: 101-250 employees

X-LARGE: 251+ employees

Aetos Systems, Inc. Atlantic (The Atlantic Group, LLC) Canvas, Inc. Cepeda Systems & Software Analysis deciBel Research, Inc. GaN Corporation Geocent HigherEchelon, Inc. LSINC Corporation MDW Associates Monte Sano Research Corporation QTEC Aerospace Sentar, Inc. Summit 7 Systems Trideum Corporation Victory Solutions Inc. Willbrook Solutions, Inc.

Avion Solutions CFD Research Corporation Davidson DESE Research, Inc. enGenius Consulting Group, Inc. Five Stones Research Corporation Hill Technical Solutions HudsonAlpha Institute for Biotechnology IERUS Technologies, Inc. Intrepid MTS – Manufacturing Technical Solutions, Inc. nLogic, LLC nou Systems, Inc. S3, Inc. Simulation Technologies, Inc. (SimTech) Thompson Gray, Inc. Turner Construction Company

Integration Innovation, Inc. (i3) IronMountain Solutions Modern Technology Solutions, Inc. (MTSI) PeopleTec, Inc. Quantitech, Inc. Raytheon Technologies Torch Technologies Yulista



AUG 2021 initiatives



FBI director, Alabama’s U.S. senators visit Redstone Arsenal FBI Director Christopher Wray visited Huntsville on June 29 along with U.S. Senators Richard Shelby and Tommy Tuberville. They checked in on progress of construction of the FBI campus on Redstone Arsenal and met with Lieutenant General Donnie Walker, Deputy Commanding General of U.S. Army Materiel Command and Senior Commander of Redstone Arsenal.

tensive of its kind in Alabama. We are proud to contribute to our community’s continual leadership in workforce development and the local economy,” said Clay Vandiver, CEO/president of United Way of Madison County. According to United Way’s website, the program is now offering food and household deliveries because of the restrictions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

QuantiTech announces company rebrand On June 9, QuantiTech, with its subsidiaries Millennium Engineering and Integration, Dynamic Concepts, and System Engineering Group, announced a company rebrand as Axient. The new brand reflects the combined capabilities of the four companies and solidifies the work over the past year to integrate their respective domain expertise to form a new entity that brings unique and differentiated capabilities to the marketplace. Axient also announced a reorganization of their operations to better deliver integrated solutions, services, and products to their customers.

Orbital Effects expands to Huntsville The four participated in a ceremonial groundbreaking for the FBI Innovation Center. “This center will be a great asset focused on cyber threat intelligence and analytics,” Sen. Shelby tweeted. “I look forward to the many jobs that will be created and the future of the FBI in Alabama.” The innovation center will serve as the FBI’s technical hub and will bring multiple technology-focused Divisions together to train, conduct cyber threat intelligence analysis and data analytics, and target rapidly changing technological threats.

AMIIC launch, Spur partnership

A Michigan-based company is expanding in Huntsville, adding more than two dozen jobs as it establishes a location in the Rocket City. Orbital Effects brings cutting-edge radar satellite technologies to address the nation’s most critical national security challenges.

Amazon to hire 500 people for new fulfillment center in Huntsville Amazon is building a one million square-foot facility on Greenbrier Parkway in Huntsville, near the Mazda Toyota Manufacturing facility in Limestone County. Amazon will hire 500 people to work at the fulfillment center, and plans to begin production this fall.

The Advanced Manufacturing Innovation and Integration Center (AMIIC) launched on May 28 during an event at Mars Music Hall. The nonprofit is partnering with school systems and hopes to create more internship pathways at companies for high school and college students to support our local defense companies. In conjunction with the kickoff, Spur announced the collaborative work-based internship program workbasED, which will partner with AMIIC. Spur is an online staffing and variable workforce solutions provider headquartered in Huntsville.

RIDE UNITED marks local milestone Two years ago, United Way teamed up with Toyota for a partnership program that would help meet transportation needs for communities across the country. This partnership program is known as RIDE UNITED, and is also funded by several other local and national investors. United Way of Madison County held an event on June 30 to feature a few people who shared how RIDE UNITED has helped them. Locally, the program has provided more than 4,000 rides to people needing transportation to and from work, job interviews, medical appointments, and more. “This implementation of RIDE UNITED, a national program of United Way, is the largest, most exA HUNTSVILLE/MADISON COUNTY CHAMBER PUBLICATION

Amazon employees at this location will pick, pack, and ship bulky or larger-sized customer items such as patio furniture, outdoor equipment, or rugs, the company said. – From reports

2020 local travel and tourism update Travel and tourism topped $1.2 billion in Madison County in 2020, despite the pandemic. The Huntsville/Madison County Convention & Visitors Bureau provided recent numbers to the state tourism department. Madison County was the third most visited county in the state, with 2.8 million visitors, behind Baldwin and Mobile counties. It’s estimated every household in Huntsville/Madison County saved $700 in taxes last year as a result of cash coming in to Madison County from out-of-town visitors. AUG 2021 initiatives


Advanced Technology

Bocar US ramps up to full production at Huntsville facility


ocar US is ramping up to full production in their newly constructed state-of-the-art manufacturing facility located in the Greenbrier area of Huntsville. Bocar is a German company established in 1958 in Mexico City. They now have a presence in the United States, Germany, Japan, and Mexico. The Huntsville location is their first U.S. production facility. Bocar is a high-end technology company with extensive experience producing high-pressure aluminum die casting, plastics and machining. They serve many automotive OEMs across the Southeast, and Huntsville provides them a great location to produce and deliver their products throughout the southern automotive corridor. “Bocar has a rich history of producing complex, high-quality structural and drivetrain components to the automotive OEMs,” said Chip Cherry, president & CEO of the Huntsville/Madison County Chamber. The facility and the technology inside are at the forefront of innovation in the world of manufacturing. Their high-tech capabilities position them to respond quickly to the fast-paced changes of the automotive sector. The Bocar Group is unique in that it doubles as a developer of automotive products and services but is also a supplier capable of producing specialized products. Bocar US broke ground on their $115 million facility in December of 2017. The 350,000-square-foot facility will bring more than 300 jobs to the area, and their investment in north Alabama compliments the region’s growing automotive manufacturing sector. “Bocar is a key player in the drive to build lighter and stronger vehicles,” added Cherry. “The aluminum high-pressure castings produced by Bocar in Huntsville help automotive manufacturers in the U.S. increase the efficiencies of their vehicles and, as a result, lower their carbon footprint which benefits all of us. We are fortunate to have them as one of our corporate citizens.” Bocar has participated in several of the Chamber’s virtual hiring events to promote the numerous career opportunities at the Hunts-


initiatives AUG 2021

ville plant. These include technicians, engineers, machining, production, maintenance, and many others. Visit to learn more about their career opportunities, some of which pay upwards of $65,000 a year. AIDT is also helping the company with recruiting and job training. Bocar provides world-class training to technicians and operators, and offers recruits an opportunity to develop their practical skills through training and development programs designed to launch their careers with Bocar. – John Roberts



Madison County

City of Huntsville

City of Madison

Huntsville Metro Area

community profile

2010 Census















% Growth

Aerospace & Defense

# of Households





Avg. Household Income





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

Per Capita Income





Research & Technology


As of July 2021

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

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

Top 15 Employers: Huntsville & Madison County U.S. Army/Redstone Arsenal* . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 38,000 * Huntsville Hospital System . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 9,352 NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center* . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 6,000 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 Yulista . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2,000 Northrop Grumman Corporation . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1,970 University of Alabama in Huntsville . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1,946 ADTRAN, Inc. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1,925 Toyota Motor Manufacturing Alabama . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1,800 Polaris Industries . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1,500 Source: Huntsville/Madison County Chamber


For more information, visit:

*includes on-site contractors

AUG 2021 initiatives


Team ONE Mazda Toyota Manufacturing & suppliers are involved in full-scale effort to build up workforce By Claire Aiello

When Toyota debuted the Corolla Cross in June, it was a source of pride for employees of Mazda Toyota Manufacturing (MTM) and the suppliers who built the vehicle. It is the very first vehicle to roll off the Apollo production line at the new MTM plant in Huntsville. Soon, many more will be produced and sold at dealerships later this year. A Mazda vehicle will also be unveiled in the near future and will be produced on the Discovery line. Those lines are a tribute by the company to Huntsville’s space heritage, by the way. The $2.3 billion manufacturing plant is the first joint venture by Mazda and Toyota, and it is a massive undertaking to bring online. To build the vehicles, MTM and its 15 onsite and nearsite supplier partners must hire 4,000 more employees. They are tackling this challenge together as Team ONE, with production starting later this year. The team name is representative of the collaborative effort of this partnership with ONE serving to represent MTM along with on-site (O), near-site (N) and everyone (E) that is needed to bring a vehicle from production to market. “Each of us that make up Team ONE appreciates our community’s support, and we will work hard to make you proud of the work we’re doing at MTM so our entire community can be part of Team ONE,” said Hiro Kagohashi, executive vice president of MTM. MTM positions are posted at In this feature, we are sharing in-depth information about each of the suppliers. Learn what they make, what types of jobs they’re hiring for, and how to apply.

continued on page 24


AUG 2021 initiatives


Aldez manages large-scale 3PL operation for MTM in an offsite warehouse, and provides complete inventory management for General Stores and Oil Stores. General Stores operation consists of indirect material, spare parts, and repair parts necessary to maintain production equipment. Oil stores operation consists of storage, inventory management, and shipping of all fluids contained in each vehicle. Aldez delivers items twice per day to each individual shop within the plant, and also provides lineside delivery services to assembly lines. Aldez is looking for people with prior experience in general warehouse operations such as forklift, inventory management software, and pick, pack, ship. The company will soon begin seating its 2nd shift team and is hiring about 10 additional people. Apply at or call 812-615-0256. DaikyoNishikawa US, Inc. (DNUS) will create the front and rear bumper for the Toyota vehicle. For the Mazda vehicle, DNUS will produce the front and rear bumper, instrument panel and console and some side and rear garnish. It will hire up to 400 employees with Mold, Paint and Assembly skills. Apply here: Green Metals handles recycling for MTM, including metal scrap recycling, non-hazardous waste recycling, and hazardous waste storing and handling. It is hiring about 23 people for the metallic and non-metallic departments, including candidates with the following skills: mobile crane, track mobile, forklift, tugger, hazardous waste handling, and CDL driver. Individuals may apply through – search for listings by Green Metals.

Madison Metal Processing’s core competencies are warehousing and blanking flat rolled steel products for the automotive industry. Inputs consist of large steel coils that are acquired through various American steel mills. “We are the precursor to a stamping line producing formed parts for assembly of a vehicle. Our business was established to build a company that provided excellent products where doing business was a pleasure for both our employees and our customers. We work hard every day to uphold our values of Safety, Quality, Cost, Delivery, and Continuous Improvement,” said Joe Lewis, Business Development Manager. The company is working to hire about 12 team members by January 2022. Apply at Magnolia Automotive Service, LLC is a Tier 1 supplier of Tile and Wheel assembly. This company is seeking up to 50 people with experience in manufacturing. To apply, visit and search for listings by Magnolia.

Nippon Express is a Global Logistics Company providing a one-stop business solution as a logistics consultant that connects people and companies across national and regional boundaries. The company’s role is to handle distribution center operations for Mazda model parts manufactured by MTM and become a primary logistics partner. 24

initiatives AUG 2021

Vuteq USA (Near Site) is a tier 1 supplier to MTM, located on Greenbrier Parkway. Vuteq’s main business is injection parts manufacturing, injection parts assembly and glass assembly staffing. Currently, Vuteq supplies 38 injected parts to Toyota, including dashboards, and one injected part to Mazda. Vuteq is looking for team members with or without prior manufacturing experience. Maintenance positions will include general maintenance and mold maintenance along with various other positions. Vuteq is looking to hire around 50 individuals, and fully staffed, it will have approximately 170 employees on staff. They have hosted a number of career fairs on recent Saturdays at Parkway Place, and positions are also posted on Indeed. Vuteq is accepting candidate resumes at, at, or on their Facebook page Vuteq Alabama.

Vuteq USA (On-Site) is located within MTM. This supplier provides over 70 production service processes to MTM to support vehicle assembly, and is looking for Assembly, Production, and Manufacturing employees. Right now, the company needs about 50 employees. Eventually, it will ramp up to over 300 production employees. “Everyone has been working really hard to produce the Corolla Cross – they’re extremely proud of what they’ve accomplished,” said Jerry Parish, Vuteq’s Regional Vice President. He is getting his team ready for the ramp-up to full production later this year. Sheila Cassady, Human Resources Manager, said she is looking for candidates with any type of assembly or production background, but they can also be new to the field. “This is a good place to start. Some of my best hires have come from food service,” Cassady added. Vuteq is accepting applications at Vuteq is offering non-rotating shifts.


Nippon Express is seeking candidates who have experience with forklifts, tuggers, pallet jacks and experience working in a warehouse/distribution or automotive environment, but will also train. The company’s goal is to hire 55 warehouse workers by November. Jobs will be posted on in September.

Penstone USA, Inc. does glass assembly and outside rear view mirror work for Mazda. They are currently hiring team members through a partnership with Vuteq. Sanoh America, Inc. is located on-site at MTM and produces fluid handling systems. Sanoh is looking for team-oriented production associates. Qualified candidates must have good attendance and follow all safety and quality procedures while maintaining a clean, organized work area. Apply at Systems Automotive Interiors Alabama (SAIA) is the Tier 1 seat supplier to MTM. SAIA will complete the final assembly and sequencing of the seats for all the Toyota Corolla Cross vehicles and the new Mazda SUV. The company is looking for all skill levels. It needs team members who will assemble seats in Manufacturing, conduct inspections and lab measurements in Quality, and coordinate shipping and receiving in Production Control. SAIA will hire 175 employees for two shifts that operate on fixed schedules. Hiring is underway for first shift now, and second shift hiring will begin in December. Hourly team members may apply through Onin Staffing Agency, and management positions are posted on

Toyota Boshoku AKI USA (TBAKI) is an automotive manufacturer building seats for Mazda and Toyota as a Near Site provider for MTM. It is located on Sanderfer Road in Athens. TBAKI is looking for production workers for first and second shift with skills in welding & assembly, quality lab, production controls, and skilled maintenance techs. Office positions are also available in quality, IT,

Carter Express performs supply chain logistics and OTR (over the road), and manages the dock operations at MTM. The company is seeking forklift operators and kitting team members. “No prior experience is needed – we will train the right candidate,” said Vonetta Thompson, HR Manager. “We are also looking for Team Leaders and they will need at least six months to a year of leadership experience.” Carter Express is hiring about 160 more people. Email your resumes here:

engineering, and accounting/finance. The company will hire approximately 200 more employees through June 2022. Apply at or

Toyota Boshoku Mississippi produces the door trim for MTM product. The company is looking for full-time and part-time team members for the shipping department, including material handlers, fork lift drivers, and team leaders. Apply at

Y-tec Keylex Toyotetsu (YKTA) provides structural metal products for both Toyota and Mazda that enhance the safety of the vehicles. This includes both chassis and body components, and workers use metal stamping and welding processes. “We are seeking production team members who are self-motivated, willing to learn new processes, and who understand our core values of respect and cooperation,” said Lorrie Collins, HR Manager. “In addition, we seek skilled maintenance team members with experience in robotic welding, stamping or die maintenance.” “We are connecting with the local colleges and high schools, really looking forward to when school starts back in the fall to spend some time with the career coaches to make sure students know YKTA is here,” Collins added. “Especially those who are not planning to immediately go into college – we definitely have opportunities, and then on top of that, we have a benefit for educational reimbursement so if later they go and take classes, then there’s that opportunity too.” YKTA has a colorful map on its wall to keep track of where people have applied from, including the Shoals, Birmingham and Mississippi. “It helps us really see, if there’s an area we’re not reaching, we can put more effort in that direction,” Collins said. Currently, the company has hired about 200 people and will be hiring 450 more team members. Apply here:


initiatives AUG 2021


FAME Grads

Meet 2 MTM team members from the Federation for Advanced Manufacturing Education program


emand for job-focused education and training is more pressing than ever for new and existing industry. The Federation for Advanced Manufacturing Education (FAME) is one of the most successful apprenticeship models in the country. This employer-led, earn-and-learn model provides substantial benefits and economic mobility for students, including older learners and those with little to no experience. In many cases, apprenticeships are the only path to a postsecondary credential and result in a well-paying career for these individuals. The Rocket City FAME Chapter has two superb examples of non-traditional students who have excelled through this program. Allison Doyal and Jeff Rice recently shared their experiences with potential students through a Zoom call with the Huntsville/Madison County Chamber. It was shared on our Facebook page so the community could learn about this high wage, high demand career pathway. Allison and Jeff both graduated from Calhoun Community College in May and are now full-time maintenance employees at Mazda Toyota Manufacturing (MTM). Allison Doyal did not have to spend a penny on her education. “This was a huge opportunity for me,” she said. She graduated high school in 2007 and was not familiar with skilled trades nor the money she could make in those careers. Through the FAME proDoyal gram, she worked three days a week with the maintenance crew at MTM, her sponsor company. Allison spoke highly of the on-the-job training she received from seasoned professionals, who mentored her and invested in her professional development. Allison enjoys troubleshooting computers, heavy machinery and equipment, and she considers her work rewarding and “life changing.” Allison shares, “For the first time I can say in my life, at the age of 32, that I have a career, not just a job.” Before starting the FAME program, the most money she ever made was $15/hour, and upon graduation she is able to make anywhere from $23.50 to $33/hour. “That’s huge as far as financial security for my family and being able to take care of my family and setting my son up for success in the future,” she added. Jeff Rice also just recently graduated from the Rocket City FAME program and is now working within the maintenance department at MTM. Jeff is eight years removed from high school, and was not considered a traditional community college student. Rice He had zero experience in maintenance, but he had an interest in technology plus a new baby boy to support. The FAME apprenticeship model provided him with a good work, school and life balance. He had a great support system and was able to learn new technical skills, plus many secondary skills such as leadership and communication. “In under two years, I was able to go from zero experience to beginning a lucrative and rewarding career in manufacturing,” Jeff shared. “FAME changed my life forever.” – Lydia Pennington


We can help you get there from here. At Synovus, we combine valuable local insight with the financial strength and depth of services to meet almost any business need, large or small. Here is where we have the understanding to share your vision and the resources to help you get there. Let’s talk today. 1-888-SYNOVUS |

Synovus Bank, Member FDIC.

AUG 2021 initiatives


Armed Forces Celebration 2021

Redstone Arsenal marks 80 years of supporting our nation


e always look forward to our annual Armed Forces Celebration – it is an opportunity to say thank you to the men and women who serve. We have plenty in our community who answer the call! Redstone Arsenal has grown over the years – it’s the economic engine that drives over half of our local economy. This year, the Arsenal marks 80 years of supporting our nation. The community held three events in June to show our appreciation. First up was a reception for Gold Star Families at the Rocket City Trash Pandas game on June 20, Father’s Day. Gold Star Families are the immediate family members of a service member who has died during military service. The U.S. Army Redstone Test Center performed a special flyover, crossing Toyota Field in one Apache and two Blackhawk helicopters. The crowd roared in applause to show appreciation and support for the families in attendance, and for the pilots in the thundering aircraft above. Lieutenant General Daniel Karbler of the U.S. Army Space and Missile Defense Command also attended the reception and spent time visiting with the families. Another popular event was the annual Military Appreciation Concert in the Park and fireworks show on June 28, featuring the Maneuver Center of Excellence Band from Fort Benning. This is always a popular event, with thousands of people attending to hear great music and enjoy a beautiful evening in Big Spring Park. The Concert also included K9 demonstrations from the Department of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms, and static displays from NASA, the U.S. Army Redstone Test Center, and U.S. Army Engineering and Support Center. In addition, the North Alabama Chapter of the Vietnam Helicopter Pilots Association brought a Huey helicopter from the Veterans Museum. It flew in Vietnam between 1968 and 1972 and has been restored, and is now used for education. Kids could sit inside and test out the seats and straps, as veterans explained the different functions.


initiatives AUG 2021


Back for a big return this year, our Community Softball Game pitting Team Redstone – composed of Redstone leaders – against the North Alabama Rockets – a team composed of local elected officials and community leaders! This was the 10th year for the game, after a hiatus for the past few years. The game was held on June 29 at Toyota Field, with free admission and parking. Local elected leaders including our mayors, commission chairman, city council representatives and a state legislator faced off against a Redstone team that featured representatives of different military commands on the Arsenal. The “Target Destroyed Trophy” was up for grabs, and Team Redstone claimed it with a 16-9 victory. We thank both teams for playing – it was a lot of fun to watch and cheer on everyone. Thank you to the Trash Pandas for hosting us, and to Greg Screws of WHNT News 19 for his announcing talents. The Rockets vow to be back next year! We say a big “thank you” to the City of Huntsville, City of Madison, Madison County, Huntsville Sports Commission, Von Braun Center, Arts Huntsville, AUSA, Team Redstone, and the Chamber’s Military Affairs Committee which is chaired by MG (Ret.) Jim Myles. These events take a lot of coordination, and we are proud to team up on this with you! We will close this year’s celebration with the annual Armed Forces Luncheon on August 4. – Claire Aiello


AUG 2021 initiatives


Forging the Path

Cepeda, Lewis: both winners of the 2020 Executive Leadership Award


very year, the Huntsville/Madison County Chamber awards the Russell G. Brown Executive Leadership Award to a deserving executive who exemplifies outstanding leadership qualities with employees, and is also a model community influencer. We partner with the University of Alabama in Huntsville and Alabama A&M University to present this award, and in 2020, we had a tie! Sandra Cepeda and Kim Lewis were named joint winners. Both ladies are incredibly deserving and we checked in with them recently to ask what leadership means to them, and learn how the past year has unfolded.

Sandra Cepeda is president and CEO of Cepeda Systems and Software Analysis, Inc. (CSSA). She is originally from Bogota, Colombia, and earned her B.S. and M.S. in Computer Engineering from Auburn University. Cepeda has 35 years of software and systems-related experience in the acquisition, development, management, process improvement and sustainment of DoD and NASA systems, and she is recognized as an expert in her field. We asked what winning the award meant for her. “This award is a humbling gift from the Lord! In a community with so many amazing leaders, it is only by God’s grace that I could have won it,” said Cepeda. “I think the award also affirms that I have an amazing team. As a leader you can’t be successful unless you are blessed with wonderful followers. I pray the award also means that, even if in a very small way, I am leading like Jesus.” Faith is woven throughout everything the CSSA team does, and it also helped the team work through challenges they faced in 2020. “When uncertainty due to the pandemic was at its worst in April of 2020, during an All Hands Teams meeting instead of focusing on all the issues the pandemic was causing, I felt led by God to encourage my team by reminding them of the things COVID-19 could not do: 1, stop God from showing us favor; 2, change the dedication of our employees and who they are; 3, keep us from accomplishing our mission; 4, change our company DNA to bless others as we have been blessed; and 5, change our values” said Sandra. “God was faithful – when we looked back at the end of 2020, we could clearly see COVID-19 could not do any of the things we gave to God for His glory.” Sandra said CSSA continued to be blessed beyond measure. Employees and their families remained healthy and most employees were able to telework, and no employee went without a paycheck. The company also remained financially strong, operated efficiently, effectively, and continued to make progress toward accomplishing its strategic goals. “We won every contract that we bid that the government awarded in 2020,” Sandra said. Cepeda’s faith also factors into her leadership style. “Leadership means leading with a servant heart like Jesus did,” she explained. “It means serving those who have trusted me as a leader so that together we can maximize their God-given talents in a way that enables their growth and accomplishes CSSA’s mission – to honor God and to become our customer’s trusted advisor.” 30

initiatives AUG 2021

In addition to her role at CSSA, Sandra also serves as the President of the Board of Intentional Faith, a Huntsville-based ministry created by CSSA to share the love of Jesus and glorify God through job empowerment, community development, and short-term relief for the under-served in the local community. She also stands as a court-appointed juvenile advocate at CAJA of Madison County, serves as an instructor at the Downtown Rescue Mission women’s recovery program, is a Committee of 100 member, and a board member for Extending a Hand Foundation, Better Business Bureau and the Huntsville Hospital Foundation.


The 2020 Small Business Awards Celebration was a live-streamed event due to COVID safety measures. L-R: Sameer Singhal, 2020 Chamber Vice Chair, Small Business & Events, and Ruchi Singhal, Nexus Energy Center, hosted the unique show with winners accepting live via Zoom.

Kim Lewis is definitely open to trying new things. She and her husband Larry own PROJECTXYZ Inc., a diversified operating company with several subsidiaries, including a media company, a restaurant, and now their largest operation, a manufacturing facility. The couple made two of these major acquisitions during the COVID-19 pandemic. One is a plastic injection molding manufacturing facility in Muscle Shoals, Alabama. “The community is diversifying, so we figured we needed to diversify and grow where the community is going. We know automotive is one of those areas, so when the opportunity came open in Muscle Shoals, we were able to do that, and in the process, we partnered with the community and were able to save 137 jobs when we made that purchase,” Kim explained. The other big purchase from last year was WTZT Channel 11 in Athens, the only locally owned and operated TV station in north Alabama. Over the past year, the Lewises have been making technical upgrades to the station, and they plan to share more information soon. When you’re in the Shoals, you should also visit Superhero Chefs, the couple’s restaurant. It’s located on Main Street in Tuscumbia. The Lewises partnered with Chef Darnell Ferguson, who has been featured on NBC’s Today and has won competitions on the Food Network. “Originally, we were going to open it in Huntsville, but at the time, it would have been one of 20 restaurants to open up in Huntsville, so we convinced him to open it up in the Shoals, and it has been a great asset to that community,” Lewis said. Chef Ferguson and his team serve up fun dishes such as the ‘Wonder Woman Salad’ and ‘Wolverine Quesadilla,’ and cocktails like ‘Red Skull’ and ‘Joker Juice.’ Owning companies through the north Alabama region isn’t exactly where Lewis imagined she would be as a young woman. After graduating from Bob Jones High School in 1991, she went to nursing school. She decided that wasn’t the right career for her, but knew she still wanted to work in health care. A few years later, she was working at Huntsville Hospital as a receptionist in the IT department and a co-worker picked up on her skills, suggesting she pursue a degree in IT. “I took her advice,” Lewis said. “I went to Calhoun Community College and got my Computer Information Systems Associates Degree.” Lewis returned to Huntsville Hospital’s IT department. From there, she went to St. Vincent’s in Birmingham, and soon founded PROJECTXYZ to perform computer information system installs in hospitals throughout the country. “My background was never to be a business owner or even to own my own business, it was a step out on faith,” Lewis said. “Now PROJECTXYZ as a whole is about 300 employees. So starting out working nights and weekends in my bedroom, to having people literally across the world, it’s a big challenge and a change, but a good one – and I get to work with my husband full time, which makes it even better.” A HUNTSVILLE/MADISON COUNTY CHAMBER PUBLICATION

Lewis said winning the Russell G. Brown Executive Leadership Award in 2020 was humbling, because Brown was a family friend. “I knew all the great things he was doing in the community, and I was so honored to receive the award, because I know not only the great impact he had in the Huntsville area, but in North Alabama as a whole. I respect the Chamber for putting the award in place, naming it after him, and for me, receiving it was an incredible honor.” In 2019, Lewis was the first African-American woman to serve as the Huntsville/Madison County Chamber’s Board Chair. Earlier this year, she was nominated by President Joe Biden to serve on the Tennessee Valley Authority Board of Directors. At press time, she was awaiting Senate confirmation. – Claire Aiello AUG 2021 initiatives


Another Identity Scam

Be aware of fraudulent unemployment claims from other sources


taying vigilant against security breaches has become the new “norm” in today’s technological age. Fraudulent unemployment claims are the newest trend for scammers trying to acquire an employee’s identification. If your company’s Human Resources department has received paperwork about an employee filing for unemployment, it could mean someone else has attempted to file in that person’s name, without the employee knowing. According to Cindy Doty, senior HR consultant at PassionHR, fraudulent unemployment claims have become “lucrative for organized crime.” The sudden spike in the fraudulent activity should work as a warning to businesses who have employees potentially susceptible to the crime. “What we’re finding is that the employer may receive an unemployment compensation claim showing someone eligible for benefits, and you go ‘oh, well they’re still here,’” Doty said. “That should be an immediate red flag.” Doty added that a false claim may have very specific information about the employee such as their name and Social Security number. Notices may also be sent from the fraudster to the victim; however, if no compensation is being received, this could mean the employee’s identity has been stolen. She encourages people to look at the options when it comes to receiving these types of letters. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) suggests three primary steps: Report the claim, make a recovery plan, and put the plan into action. As soon as the crime occurs, the FTC encourages victims of fraud to immediately call the company in which the fraud occurred. Once the company has been notified, make an identity theft claim with the


initiatives AUG 2021

business and go to to report the fraud to the FTC. Reporting the fraud to the local police department is also a good option, if necessary. “Employees who are going through this need to make sure they are checking their credit reports, that no one has opened a bank account in their name, or that there is no change to their existing accounts,” Doty said. Filing a report is imperative to stop the fraud. If an employer receives any notice or employee information unexpectedly, an extensive analysis should be done. She also said it is very important for employers to report the new hire within three days of hiring a new employee. This is important because the unemployment compensation can compare the employment records a company may have on a new hire, which can expose information to fraudsters. Doty recommends employers check their cyber security to make sure there has not been a breach of employee data. Sometimes the fraudster can just use bits and pieces of employee information to file a claim successfully, other times phishing through emails can give them the information they need. Consider setting up an extended fraud alert. An extended fraud alert can be done after an FTC report has been filed. The alerts will allow access to credit reports as long as the company can verify the employee identity and will last up to seven years. To set up a fraud alert, contact the three credit bureaus: Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion. Fill out and complete any necessary forms and send a copy of your FTC Identity Theft report. – Kayla Carlile


Ahead of the Game

Three school systems beef up summer enrichment opportunities he new school year is underway for our three public systems, and teachers and staff kept busy over the summer making sure students didn’t get behind. Last year was challenging on many levels for educators, and schools offered extra programs over the summer not typically offered in the past. Huntsville City Schools worked on a Road to Recovery Plan over the summer to help those wanting to brush up their skills. The program was broken up into two free learning academies intended to maintain and improve students’ academic skills in both middle and high school. In all, 2,150 students attended these programs. Elementary programs had signifiant numbers. The middle school program focused on English, reading, and mathematics. Teachers made sure to use a hands-on, project-based approach to keep the students engaged throughout the course programs. The high school program, while primarily focused on skill/concept retention, also concentrated on preparation. Students were able to refresh their knowledge on concepts from various subjects from the past school year, and could also take ACT preparatory classes in-person or remotely. Allyn Russell, the Summer Learning facilitator, pointed out that combating summer learning loss, often referred to as the “summer slide,” is particularly important this year due to COVID-19. She says she believes the extra learning opportunities offered this summer ensure students have grasped the correct concepts and knowledge before beginning a new year. Teachers also had the chance to recreate the learning environment for their students – something that was difficult to do last year with virtual learning. “This is our opportunity to get back into the fun of learning,” Russell said. The summer enrichment programs also gave students a chance to A HUNTSVILLE/MADISON COUNTY CHAMBER PUBLICATION

participate in activities that might not have been available the same way during virtual learning, such as physical education and art. Meanwhile, Madison County Schools offered summer enrichment programs to both students and teachers. In June, Madison County teachers attended training at the North Alabama Teaching Conference, where they worked on dozens of lessons to help prepare them for the school year. They also watched webinars to help them learn skills in interpreting data and enhancing instruction. For the first time ever, rising fifth and sixth graders were offered three different Career School Camps where they were able to learn workforce skills in STEM, welding, and culinary. And for the ninth year in a row, students in Madison County were also able to participate in the Summer Learning Challenge. Madison City Schools had options for grades K-12 throughout most of the summer, including tutoring programs. Hundreds of students participated in summer learning programs from elementary school, all the way up to high school. Subjects offered included reading, mathematics, and English Language Learners (ELL). The ELL program is for students still new to the English language. Participating schools included James Clemens High School, Liberty Middle, Columbia Elementary, Rainbow Elementary, and Mill Creek Elementary. In addition to the summer learning, Huntsville Hospital worked with all three school systems to offer COVID vaccination clinics for students, staff, and parents. Vaccinations are not required for the upcoming school year, but Huntsville Hospital made sure anyone wanting the vaccine could access it, offering the two-dose Pfizer shot on different dates. All three school systems plan for in-person classes this school year, with virtual still being an option for some. The Madison County Virtual Academy has been highly successful with over 60 students graduating in the 2020-2021 school year. The other two school systems’ virtual academies have seen similar success, and all three offered enrollment for the upcoming year. – Kayla Carlile PHOTOS COURTESY OF MADISON CITY SCHOOLS


AUG 2021 initiatives


Future Home Taking Shape

ASCTE students will attend classes through this year on Oakwood campus


he Alabama School of Cyber Technology and Engineering is starting its second year off strong. The school’s permanent campus is being built at the corner of Bradford and Wynn drives in Cummings Research Park, and it is taking shape by the day. It will include a four-story dormitory building, three stories of classrooms, a cafeteria, courtyard, and other living spaces. Through the 2021-22 school year, students will be on the campus of Oakwood University. Because student enrollment has doubled, Oakwood recently renovated Peterson Hall to house additional incoming students and opened the building in July. “It works out well because a year from now, when the kids move to the permanent campus, Oakwood will use it as a conference center with residential spaces for campus visitors. This partnership has been beneficial to both schools – we’ve both benefited from increased interest, visibility, and enrollment,” said PeggyLee Wright, ASCTE Foundation director. Of the students who attend ASCTE, roughly 30 percent come from all over the state and live in the dormitories. More students will be phased in each year. In year one, 2020, the school started with 50 ninth graders and 20 tenth graders. This fall, 87 new students will join the state magnet school. Next year, in 2022, the school will be on its brand new campus, with full 9-12th grade classes. Word is spreading about ASCTE, as faculty members have worked to share word across the state. Wright said this fall, a family from Montgomery will move to Huntsville while their student attends classes. Another parent is moving up from Mobile. In addition, 25 percent of students coming this fall are from un-


initiatives AUG 2021

der-resourced areas. “In many cases, they have the talent to succeed, but maybe not the opportunity. They can come here to this state-paid school and get set on a new path for a successful future,” said Wright. Wright said corporate donors have also stepped up with support. “Leaders from across industry are showing their support at various levels allowing for the construction of our new state-of-the-art facility in Cummings Research Park,” said Wright. “The impact is three-fold – it allows us to develop a talented pipeline into higher ed and the workforce, it allows us to provide life-changing experiences for Alabama’s students, and it allows us to combat the rising, and complex challenges, that cyber attacks continue to pose across this country.” The summer break included an opportunity for sophomores to take virtual cyber classes from J.F. Drake State Community & Technical College. Not only was it no cost for the students, they were also paid $500 to take the course. Raytheon Technologies also offered students a partnership with MIT. Sophomores could attend MIT’s Summer Program virtually. “The industry, as well as Redstone Arsenal, and nonprofits – everyone has stepped up to support this school,” said Matt Massey, ASCTE President. “Everything from Redstone Federal Credit Union supporting the building of our permanent campus, Raytheon bringing the kids to the Paralympics Open, Northrop Grumman bringing in a guest instructor, and many others. All of these industry partners have been amazing to get the kids involved and do things with them. It’s really opened the kids’ eyes up to DoD, commercial, government, banking, all the areas they could really get involved in.” – Claire Aielllo A HUNTSVILLE/MADISON COUNTY CHAMBER PUBLICATION

Growing Strong

Facebook announces expansion to Huntsville Data Center campus


n June 8, Facebook announced an expansion to its Huntsville Data Center campus. Once the full campus is complete in 2024, it will be nearly 2.5 million square feet and represent an investment of over $1 billion. It will also employ more than 200 people, which is twice as many as was first announced when Facebook announced in 2018 it would build here. The data center is located in North Huntsville Industrial Park near Toyota Motor Manufacturing Alabama. Construction of the third building is well underway, and construction is already starting for the rest of the campus. As of June, the campus had contributed over 5 million work hours to the Huntsville economy. Nearly 24,000 tons of steel have been erected and 500,000 cubic yards of concrete poured. “The Huntsville Data Center will be supported by 100% renewable energy, including a solar project located in Muscle Shoals, Alabama,” the company said in a statement. – from Reports



AUG 2021 initiatives


Girl Power

Educational summer camps teach hands-on life skills for future success oung women in north Alabama went to work over summer vacation to learn the tricks of the trade. As growth and development move full speed ahead, trade jobs continue to be in high demand. Girls Inc. and the North Alabama Homebuilding Academy (NAHA) teamed up this summer to offer a free educational camp to young girls interested in the construction industry. Participants in Girls Inc.’s Eureka! Program spent four days learning first-hand from local female business owners and homebuilders. Barry Oxley, executive director of the Huntsville/Madison County Homebuilders Association, said about 20 percent of the students who have enrolled in NAHA are female. More often than not, he said the female students outperform their male counterparts. “We are hopeful programs like this will lead more women into considering a career in the construction industry. There are plenty of high paying jobs out there ready to be filled for those who are willing to learn a trade and get to work,” Oxley said. The Girls Inc. experience strives to get more young women involved and prepared for adulthood. The three goals of their program include girls leading healthy lives, succeeding academically and having life skills. This construction camp helped girls in the program gain life skills they may not otherwise get in school.

Above & top right: Girls participate in a welding camp presented by Calhoun Community College. Right: Girls Inc. participants learn construction skills through the North Alabama Homebuilding Academy. In another program, young women had the opportunity to learn about welding from Calhoun Community College. With the help of the Decatur-Morgan County Chamber of Commerce, the annual SWeETy Welding Camp was a success. Electrical and welding skills, which are typically pursued by men, were taught to 10 high-school aged girls over the course of a three-day camp. The young


initiatives AUG 2021

women were able to gain hands-on experience in the fields while learning the importance of safety when working with electrical mechanisms and welding. “Many young women are interested in welding and technical fields but don’t have an opportunity to expand their knowledge in that area at school. SWeETy camp is ideal for those young ladies, as it helps expand their knowledge in a field that has been seen for many years as non-traditional for women,” commented Gwen Baker, Calhoun Dual Enrollment director. Global Career Development Facilitator Instructor Kelli Morris served as a speaker for the camp on day one. Morris holds more than 12 years of experience helping guide students in higher education. Her advice, plus the welding knowledge taught through the camp helped give the young women a look at how welding could lead them to a successful future. Calhoun’s goal for the camp is to get more young people, including women, in the trades for future work. The processes learned through the camp should be great tools for students looking for work after school. Sponsors for this year’s camp included Indorama Ventures, Mazda Toyota Manufacturing, and SparkS. Calhoun Community College offers several welding programs on their campus in Decatur or online. You can find more information about the programs at

The Girls Inc. experience strives to get more young women involved and prepared for adulthood.

– Kayla Carlile




Keep Moving Forward

Bekah Schmidt: 2020 Young Professional of the Year


ekah Schmidt has been busy over the last year. When she won Young Professional of the Year in the Huntsville/Madison County Chamber’s Small Business Awards, she was very pregnant with twin girls. “I was very glad the event was live-streamed because I was able to share the event with my dad, aunts, uncles, and grandparents who were watching from out of town, and my children, husband, and mom were with me. Getting to share the moment with my kids, husband, and mom was so special,” said Bekah. “I have an incredible support system in my husband and parents, and there is no way I would be able to do what I do without their support.” Sophia and Allison were born in December, and older siblings Kyle and Emma welcomed them. The four children are growing by the day, and Bekah is in a brand new career, but says she wouldn’t have it any other way. “It has been a joy-filled season of life for us,” said Bekah. “Sure, it’s twice the work, but also two times the smiles, laughs, baby snuggles, and love. My advice to other working mothers would be to find mom friends and build a support system. I am so grateful for all the support and love from our tribe this past year.” Bekah and her husband Stephen juggle well. Bekah recently transitioned to Toyota Alabama from the South Huntsville Main Business

Association, where she served as executive director for three years. In her new role, Bekah is a corporate communications analyst for Toyota Alabama, managing the company’s external affairs including media relations, local government affairs, and social innovation. “I am delighted to be a part of the team at Toyota. I’ve only been on the job a couple of months, and it already feels like family,” she said. “The skillset I developed with South Huntsville Main transferred over, so I’ve hit the ground running!” Bekah is passionate about education, which fits in well with her new role at Toyota Alabama and the company’s support of our local public schools. “The top issue on my mind right now is supporting our local school systems. After two years of disrupted learning, and with all the growth Huntsville is experiencing, we must continue to ensure each child has access to high quality public education,” said Bekah. “Investing in our schools is an investment in the future. The work the Chamber is doing to support workforce development and career readiness plays a key role in preparing our students for the future. My kids have 18 years left in the public school system, so personally and through Toyota Alabama’s work in the community, I hope I can make a difference in this area.” – Claire Aiello

Resilient & Rising CSSA named 2020 Government Contracting - Professional Services Business of the Year


epeda Systems and Software Analysis, Inc. (CSSA) provides software engineering, systems engineering, and process improvement services to the Department of Defense, NASA, and the commercial sector. The company also provides community outreach services to nonprofits in the Huntsville area through its CSSA Community Ambassador program. During the Chamber’s 2020 Small Business Awards, CSSA was awarded the Government Contracting Professional Services Business of the Year. The company’s engineering services support the country’s warfighters and NASA’s mission to develop next generation space flight systems. CSSA’s services span the complete product life cycle and show measured results in defect avoidance, high-end user satisfaction, reduced risk, improved communication, enhanced operational correctness, task automation, and quality products, among other services. The commitment to honor God is at CSSA’s core, and that came through as Sandra Cepeda, president and CEO, talked about winning. “It humbled me greatly to see that God continues to bless CSSA beyond measure. He started this company, and He has shown us unbelievable favor and grace along the way,” said Cepeda. “This award affirms our employees are amazing in the way they truly live out our A HUNTSVILLE/MADISON COUNTY CHAMBER PUBLICATION

mission statement: To honor God and become our customers’ trusted advisor. Finally, the award demonstrates to our customers that we are a company that strives to serve them with excellence, and they can count on us to achieve their mission.” CSSA has 99 employees, and Cepeda says they learned important lessons about each other during the last year and a half. “We learned we can count on each other and trust each other; we learned that we are resilient, and we can persevere through difficult times,” said Cepeda. “We also learned we can leverage technology to communicate while we are physically apart. We learned CSSA’ers rise to the occasion and are ready to tackle any problem that comes their way to serve customers and each other.” – Claire Aiello AUG 2021 initiatives


Feel the Breeze

Huntsville International Airport adds new low-cost carrier


ou now have another reason to Fly Huntsville! Breeze Airways has added direct flights to Charleston, New Orleans, and Tampa. The air service began in July, and one of Breeze’s selling points is no change or cancellation fees. Breeze will operate Embraer 190 and 195 jets seating 108 or 118 passengers with two-by-two configuration, so there are no middle seats. Seat assignments start from $10, but family seating is free for families traveling with children 12 and under. “Our airport is the connection to other areas of the country and business opportunities found in those areas,” said Rick Tucker, CEO of the Port of Huntsville. “We are excited about the new service and expect our community will respond to the new ‘Seriously Nice’ and ultra-low fare air service by taking advantage of the flexibility offered by flying and supporting Breeze Airways.” Breeze Airways is a brand new airline – its first flight was on May 27 from Tampa to Charleston. “These 16 cities are just the beginning for Breeze,” said David Neeleman, CEO of Breeze Airways (pictured right). “The effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on the nation’s air service have meant many secondary and tertiary markets have seen a significant reduction in flights. There are so many city pairs needing nonstop service around the country, we have a further 100 cities under consideration. Flying nonstop, Breeze will get you there in half the time, but also for about half the price!” We talked with Neeleman about how he took notice of the Rocket City. It’s actually a familiar story – his wife is from here! They were recently married, and he started to look at the market more closely. The HSV team had also been talking with Breeze for about two years. “All the defense work going on there, obviously Redstone Arsenal, the FBI growth – it’s just a really desirable area,” Neeleman said. “Also, the living environment – it’s a clean city, good education, the university there – just so many things that bring economic vitality to a city.


initiatives AUG 2021

But it’s still a little bit isolated, a couple hours to Nashville, an hour and a half down to Birmingham.” Neeleman said bookings are good so far, and his team is working to increase Breeze’s visibility to add more. “I think there’s a ton of pent-up demand, but it’s mainly on the leisure side. Business traffic hasn’t returned yet – I don’t know to what percent it will. But on the leisure side, I think it’s much higher than it was prior to the pandemic,” he said. “People have the money to travel.” Neeleman’s long-term plans include adding new A220s to the fleet


later this year. The aircraft are made in Mobile, Ala. They are larger, so they can carry more passengers and fly up to six hours. “We could add longer distances, such as San Francisco-Huntsville, Los Angeles-Huntsville, Seattle-Huntsville – we could do it with those planes.” “Some cities just take off, and you keep adding more flights and more destinations. I’m hoping Huntsville will take off, and people will travel, because we want to have a large presence here.” – Claire Aiello A HUNTSVILLE/MADISON COUNTY CHAMBER PUBLICATION

Heading for Tokyo


Several Para-cyclists who competed in Huntsville advance

Team USA’s Shawn Morelli



eam USA is preparing for Tokyo, and by the time you read this, the Olympics should be well underway. The Paralympics are scheduled to take place between August 24 and September 5, and we hope you’ll watch, because you’ll get to root on several of the Para-cyclists who competed in Huntsville earlier this year in Cummings Research Park. The U.S. Paralympics Cycling Open in Huntsville, held April 17-18, was the return to competition for these athletes since the COVID-19 pandemic. Many of these athletes also competed in the U.S. Paralympic Team Trials in Minneapolis on June 19. For the women’s team, look for Samantha Bosco, Clara Brown, Oksana Masters, and Shawn Morelli, all of whom competed in Huntsville. Alicia Dana and Monica Serada will complete the lineup. For the men’s team, it’s Tom Davis, Freddie De Los Santos, Will Groulx, Cody Jung, Aaron Keith, Chris Murphy, Ryan Pinney, and Matt Rodriguez. All of the group competed in Huntsville except for Groulx and Murphy. NBC Universal has said it will air a record 1,200 hours of Paralympic coverage on its networks and streaming services, including NBC primetime broadcasts. We’ll be cheering for you, Team USA! – Claire Aiello


AUG 2021 initiatives


Newsweek’s 2021

chamber staff

Best Small Bank in Alabama


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

Economic Development & Workforce

You Deserve A Bank That Delivers Beyond Expectations. Learn more about Alabama’s Best Small Bank at


Downtown: 256-535-1045 | Southeast Huntsville: 256-217-5170 PERSONAL | PRIVATE | BUSINESS | MORTGAGE BANKING SERVICES Member FDIC. Equal Housing Lender. NLMS 582857.

Lucia Cape, CCE, senior vice president Erin Koshut, executive director, Cummings Research Park Lyndsay Ferguson, vice president, workforce Ken Smith, senior director, research & information services Lydia Pennington, workforce development director

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

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

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

Marketing & Communications Claire Aiello, vice president Kayla Carlile, communications & social media specialist 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 specialist



initiatives AUG 2021


Where the Future Happens Now

the gateway to innovation

Great Rates for your

Next Adventure! Visit for great loan rates. Auto | Boat | RV | Motorcycle | ATV | Jet Ski Must be an RFCU member to obtain a loan. Rates are determined by an evaluation of the applicant’s credit, FICO score and loan terms. Credit and collateral subject to approval. Rates, terms, and conditions are subject to change without notice. Other restrictions may apply. RFCU is an Equal Credit Opportunity Lender. ®

800-234-1234 |

Turn static files into dynamic content formats.

Create a flipbook
Issuu converts static files into: digital portfolios, online yearbooks, online catalogs, digital photo albums and more. Sign up and create your flipbook.