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JUN 2021

Sponsored by





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

bradley.com | BIRMINGHAM | CHARLOTTE | DALLAS | HOUSTON | HUNTSVILLE | JACKSON | MONTGOMERY | NASHVILLE | TAMPA | WASHINGTON, D.C. No representation is made that the quality of the legal services to be performed is greater than the quality of legal services performed by other lawyers. ATTORNEY ADVERTISING. Contact: Frank M. Caprio, Esq., 256.517.5142, fcaprio@bradley.com, Bradley Arant Boult Cummings LLP, 200 Clinton Avenue West, Suite 900, Huntsville, AL 35801. ©2021

Almost finished settling into your new home? A new life here deserves a healthy beginning.

Call a Care Coordination Specialist at (256) 817-9999



Joined in March 2021 Agave & Rye Alliance Sand and Aggregates, LLC Avilution, LLC BEK Networks Connor Group LLC CycleBar Huntsville Deltek, Inc. gener8tor Huntsville Professional Counseling Insight Strategic Solutions LeanStream Resource Partners Legacy Vision Center LJ’z Backyard Bayou Nexgen Crane & Rigging, LLC Rocket City Insurance Group SCSWORX Silver Collection TeamLogicIT Toyota Tsusho America, Inc. Upgrade Clothing LLC White Electrical Construction

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

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

Joined in April 2021 Ain’t It Good Alabama Home InspeXions Alexander’s Martial Arts Bailey’s Pest Control, LLC Beach Equity Investments Bill Penney Collision Center Breland Companies Capstone Research Corporation Dean Dental Erica Lane Enterprises, Inc. Fantastic Bubble Party Heartland Concierge Care Huntsville Community Of Hope Imagehawk Intersect Huntsville | LLC Job Enhancement Training Services Company Lowe’s Home Improvement #0411 MISC Mr. Electric of Huntsville Ms C’s Janitorial LLC My Size Marketing NET (Never Ending Technology, Inc) Parry Labs, LLC Pond and Company Ronald McDonald House Charities of Alabama, Inc. The Alexandria The Becoming Church The Home Depot #803 The Learning Team at Ashlee Grove & Associates Tunji’s Creations United Site Services of MS University of Alabama College of Continuing Studies Whataburger Zaden Technologies, LLC Zellus Marketing

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

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

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

fellow member companies and the region’s business community

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

■ Priority communications to keep you updated on the latest

business news and information impacting your business


initiatives jun 2021




AS OF MAY 14, 2021



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




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

PROGRESS PARTNERS Ability Plus, Inc. ■ Aerojet Rocketdyne ■ Anglin Reichmann Armstrong, P.C. ■ ASRC Federal ■ B.L. Harbert International, LLC ■ Baron Services, Inc. ■ BASF Corporation ■ BB&T, now Truist ■ Bradley Arant Boult Cummings LLP ■ Brown Precision, Inc. ■ CenterState Bank ■ Colliers International ■ Connected Logistics (LogC2) ■ Davidson ■ Huntsville Tractor & Equipment, Inc. ■ IBERIABANK ■ Integration Innovation, Inc. (i3) ■ Keel Point, LLC ■ L3Harris ■ Leonardo Electronics US Inc. ■ LSINC Corporation ■ Marsh & McLennan Agency, locally known as J. Smith Lanier & Co. ■ The Orthopaedic Center (TOC) ■ PNC Bank ■ Progress Bank ■ Radiance Technologies, Inc. ■ RE/MAX Alliance ■ Robins & Morton ■ RUAG Space USA Inc. ■ Steak-Out (Rosie’s Restaurants, Inc., & Right Way Restaurants, Inc.) ■ Venturi, LLC ■ Woody Anderson Ford


PROGRESS INVESTORS Air Essentials, Inc. ■ Alpha Beta Technologies, Inc. ■ Amanda Howard | Sotheby’s International Realty ■ Averbuch Realty / Enterprises ■ Bailey-Harris Construction ■ BancorpSouth ■ Bell Textron Inc. ■ BID DESIGNS, LLC ■ BRPH Architects-Engineers, Inc. ■ Bryant Bank ■ Cadence Bank ■ Canvas, Inc. ■ CB&S Bank ■ Century Automotive ■ CFD Research Corporation ■ CGI Federal ■ Coast Personnel Services ■ DC BLOX, Inc. ■ deciBel Research ■ Deloitte ■ DESE Research, Inc. ■ Express Employment Professionals ■ FITE Building Company ■ FLS Translation & Interpreting ■ Fountain, Parker, Harbarger & Associates, LLC ■ Freedom Real Estate & Capital, LLC ■ Garver, LLC ■ Hexagon US


Federal ■ HEMSI ■ Hiley Automotive Group ■ Huntsville Botanical Garden ■ Huntsville/Madison County Convention & Visitors Bureau ■ INTERFUZE Corporation ■ Investor’s Resource ■ IronMountain Solutions ■ Legend Realty – Jim Hoekenschneider ■ The Lioce Group, Inc. ■ MSB Analytics, Inc. ■ nLogic, LLC ■ PALCO ■ PHOENIX ■ Pinnacle Solutions, Inc. ■ PROJECTXYZ, Inc. ■ QTEC Aerospace ■ Quadrus Corporation ■ Renasant Bank ■ RJ Young Company ■ Rosenblum Realty, Inc. ■ S&ME, Inc. ■ Schoel Engineering Company, Inc. ■ ServisFirst Bank ■ Sigmatech, Inc. ■ Signalink, Inc. ■ Snelling ■ Systems Products and Solutions, Inc. ■ TriVector Services, Inc. ■ Troy 7, Inc. ■ TTL, Inc. ■ ValleyMLS.com ■ Valor Communities ■ Van Valkenburgh & Wilkinson Properties, Inc. ■ Volkert, Inc. ■ Warren Averett, LLC ■ Wilmer & Lee, P.A.

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


jun 2021 initiatives


voted one of the 2020 Best Banks to Work For and the

Forbes Best-in-State Banks and Best Companies to Work for in Alabama.

“We strive to create a culture where it’s fun to come to work, where our team members can live our mission to make a positive difference in people’s lives.” - Rick Wardlaw, CEO of Bank Independent

“Our team members are committed to investing their time and talents back into the communities we serve. Thank you for acknowledging our commitment to business excellence.” - Macke Mauldin, President of Bank Independent and CEO of Bancindependent, Inc.







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BIBANK.COM | MEMBER FDIC | 877.865.5050

table of contents INITIATIVES MAGAZINE – JUN 2021

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



HSVchamber.org (see staff listing on page 38)

pages 20-24

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

First of a New Series – Huntsville/Madison County: Economic Development

on the cover Members of CFD Research’s Leadership Team Photo by Hiroko Sedensky

editorial staff publisher Chip Cherry, CCE

feature stories 10


editorial designer Kristi Sherrard



contributing writers












Kristy Drake



47E: 2020 Small Business Award Winner profile



New Beginnings Family Law: 2020 Small Business Award Winner profile

editor Claire Aiello

Hannah Hartline Lydia Pennington Deborah Storey Melanie Thornton Mike Ward, CCE


Richard Bigoney

Economic Development and more

DEI Future & Beyond Symposium recognitions

Crowds are ready to cheer on Trash Pandas SimTech: 2020 Small Business Award Winner profile North Huntsville Library celebrates grand opening

MaDonni Beauty: 2020 Small Business Award Winner profile Free classes available to companies through AIDT


Tina Blankenship tblankenship@hsvchamber.org

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


READY TO SERVE: Chamber partners with Hiring Our Heroes


HREGI PROFILE: Renasant Bank with Danny Davis




SAVE THE DATES: In-person Chamber events in August


CROSSING THE FINISH LINE: Recap of U.S. Paralympics Cycling Open



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


jun 2021 initiatives


a message from chip cherry

Executive Committee & Board of Directors 2021


Executive Committee

Dear Chamber Investors, Community Leaders, and Friends:

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 –

The Chamber’s Vision and Mission statements articulate what we do. A discussion among our Board during their January meeting led to the creation of a working group to develop a list of values that provide insight into what is important to the Chamber. The working group presented their recommendations to the Board during the April 22nd meeting. These six values and their respective narratives were officially adopted by the Board (listed in priority order) : 1. Strategic – we endeavor to understand our region’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats and develop short and long-term plans to address them. 2. Collaborative – we capitalize on opportunities and address challenges by working with our partners. 3. Innovative – we believe that creative and bold actions are prerequisites to creating a competitive advantage. 4. Inclusive – we value all people in our community and strive to create equitable opportunities. 5. Accountable – we are accountable to our members and stakeholders to act with integrity in all regards. 6. Engaged – we cultivate relationships with our members and community to ensure that our interests and actions are aligned. These values provide greater insight into our beliefs and how we endeavor to engage with our partners. I am excited to be able to share them with you! By the time you read this, the renovation of the lobby and the Economic Development wing will be underway. The refresh of these areas is long overdue. Please pardon the dust when you visit the Chamber over the next five months. We look forward to showing off the new look when we host the Holiday Open House! Our other big news is that we are returning to in-person programming in August! We have been virtual too long, and I am looking forward to seeing you in person. There will be some changes. We will request that masks be worn, and the number of people seated at a table will be reduced. However, these are minor accommodations that will allow for us to meet in person! Stay well and get vaccinated. I look forward to seeing you at an event soon!

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



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Ability Plus, Inc.

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

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

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

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


Three-Peat: Chamber wins Mac Conway Award Site Selection magazine has awarded the Mac Conway Award to the Huntsville/Madison County Chamber for the third year in a row. This is given annually to the nation’s 20 top economic development organizations, and is determined by six criteria: total projects, total investment associated with those projects and jobs associated with those projects; and those same three metrics calculated per capita for the metro area. Winners were determined by an index that examines corporate facility investment projects in US metro areas as tracked by Site Selection’s Conway Projects database.

U.S. Census results bring good news for Alabama Alabama scored good marks in the first results released from the 2020 U.S. Census. Our state has grown to a total population of 5.03 million (100,000 more people than estimated) and we will also keep our current number of seven seats in the U.S. House of Representatives for the next 10 years. “This data reveals what we’ve known all along – Alabama is a great state to call home, and many are choosing to do so,” Governor Kay Ivey said. “I am extremely pleased that we will keep all seven of our current seats in the U.S. House to provide valued and needed voices to advocate for our state and our people for the next 10 years. Our success in the Census was certainly a group effort across the entire state, and I offer my heartfelt thanks to everyone who played a part.” Thank you for hearing the call to respond to the Census, and thanks for encouraging your friends, neighbors, and co-workers to respond, too. The numbers in the Tennessee Valley are way up. Our growth is about 1.5 percent a year, one of the highest rates in Alabama and twice the national average. The Huntsville Metro’s population has increased by 52,000 people in the past nine years. Statewide, we saw a higher self-response rate than during the 2010 Census, and 47 counties exceeded their final 2010 self-response rates. The initial data released is limited to statewide population totals only. The more detailed county, city and census tract-level data needed for legislative redistricting will be released in August and September, according to the Census Bureau.

MSFC celebrates milestone supporting ISS NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center (MSFC) recently celebrated two decades of success supporting astronauts aboard the International Space Station. NASA’s Payload Operations Integration Center, 10

initiatives jun 2021

Redstone was selected to be the permanent home for the U.S. Space Command earlier this year, following an extensive evaluation that considered 50 sites from 26 states. As Redstone and Huntsville prepare to welcome the Space Command to the region, such opportunities to showcase the community and engage with future leaders of the Command, will become increasingly important. located at Marshall, began round-the-clock operations supporting science on the station in 2001. Through this work, employees work with astronauts to develop and test science hardware and provide real-time support for experiments on orbit. MSFC monitors use of the 15 unique science hardware facilities developed, built and tested here, all of which Marshall continues to manage for the agency. Crew and station operations are led by NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston. During its 22 years in orbit, the International Space Station has been home to 242 individuals from 19 countries, working with more than 4,000 scientists in 108 countries to conduct some 3,000 total research investigations.


The Redstone Region recently had an opportunity to host a group of future Space Command leaders when the Schriever Space Scholars made a road trip from Montgomery to Huntsville. On April 13, Redstone Arsenal hosted a series of presentations for the Space Scholars with various agencies that work in space at Redstone, including the Missile Defense Agency, the Army’s Space and Missile Defense Command, NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center, and the Defense Intelligence Agency’s Missile and Space Intelligence Center. At the conclusion of the day-long presentations, the Redstone Regional Alliance hosted a short briefing and reception in their honor at the U.S. Space & Rocket Center. Montgomery is home to Maxwell Air Force Base and the Air Command and Staff College and Air University. The Schriever Space Scholars program is a year-long, space-centric IDE program dedicated to developing space strategists. Originally sponsored by Air Force Space Command and now sponsored by U.S. Space Force, the concentration combines the warfighting curriculum of war theory, international studies, and joint warfighting courses with space-focused classes that offer deep dives into space history, strategy, operations, and policy. The program offers a world-class strategic space education across all levels of the space enterprise: military, civil, and commercial.


Redstone Region hosts Schriever Space Scholars

Victory Solutions awarded $169M NASA contract The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) has awarded the Consolidated Program Support Services (CPSS) Configuration and Data Management (CDM) contract to Victory Solutions Inc. of Huntsville, Ala., to provide CDM services at 10 NASA Centers including NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center. Victory Solutions is a Service-Disabled Veteran-Owned (SDVO) and Woman-Owned Small Business (WOSB), and a multiple award-winning company specializing in building relationships with defense and commercial customers to develop, analyze, and integrate advanced aerospace systems. With this contract’s award, the potential mission services value is $96.5 million and a maximum potential IDIQ value of $169 million over eight years. The company will be responsible for providing configuration and data management support to include planning, coordination, technical management, execution, and surveillance for programs, projects, and organizations with directorates and offices that exercise responsibility for their hardware and software products. “Victory Solutions is pleased to receive this latest contract as we work to provide solutions


QUICK BITES (continued) COMPILED BY CLAIRE AIELLO to the complex, and ever-changing, problems across the aerospace, defense, and technical engineering industries,” said Kris McGuire, the company’s founder and CEO. “This award is not only a reflection of the capabilities of our advanced teams, but also a reflection of our commitment to developing the skills of our employees, building effective teams, and forging partnerships with our customers to identify and solve their problems.”

HudsonAlpha expands biotech campus, adding two new buildings On May 10, Alabama Governor Kay Ivey joined state and regional officials, members of the business and nonprofit community, and leadership from HudsonAlpha Institute for Biotechnology to celebrate a groundbreaking for an expansion of the biotech campus. The expansion will consist of two facilities: the global headquarters for Discovery Life Sciences, and new state-of-the-art laboratory and greenhouse space for HudsonAlpha’s Center for Plant Science and Sustainable Agriculture. “Alabama has a new accolade: global headquarters to a renowned and respected biosciences company,” Governor Ivey said during her remarks. “This will undoubtedly strengthen Alabama’s biosciences recruitment efforts and increase the economic impact to the city, state and region.” Discovery Life Sciences (DLS) chose HudsonAlpha’s biotech campus in Huntsville for their global headquarters. DLS is an international market leader in biospecimen analysis, procurement, and distribution for the pharmaceutical, biotechnology, and diagnostics industries. This global headquarters will consist of 90,000 square feet and house DLS’s research and development, laboratory and business operations.

“Discovery Life Sciences, formerly Conversant Bio, began with two entrepreneurs and is now a force in the biospecimen market, employing over 400 people around the world. We look forward to DLS growing its presence on HudsonAlpha’s campus,” said Jim Hudson, co-founder and chairman of the HudsonAlpha board. The HudsonAlpha Center for Plant Science and Sustainable Agriculture will also add 13,000 square feet of lab and greenhouse space and will be able to propagate and grow research plants to improve existing crops and develop new uses for plants. HudsonAlpha’s partnerships with Auburn University and Alabama A&M University will be strengthened while productivity will be enhanced. Specifically, the teams will advance genomics enabled breeding pipelines for new varieties of crops, will continue to maximize fuel production from plant biomass, reduce fertilizer use, and reduce or eliminate fungicides to increase grower yields. “HudsonAlpha is one of the world’s largest genomics institutes in plant science and we collaborate with research groups everywhere to discover and then apply the discoveries to crop improvement. We also will work closely with HudsonAlpha’s Educational Outreach team to attract the next generation of plant science students. These students need to be trained and inspired to go further to make an even greater impact in improving agriculture,” said Jeremy Schmutz, who with Jane Grimwood, PhD, co-directs HudsonAlpha’s Genome Sequencing Center. HudsonAlpha’s campus is home to more than 1,000 employees, including those from HudsonAlpha’s research labs and the more than 45 resident life science associate companies that call the Institute home. 12

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Champions of Diversity

DEI Future & Beyond Symposium recognizes special companies & citizens


ur community is filled with numerous people and organizations working diligently to promote Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI). The DEI Future & Beyond Symposium committee recently announced the winners of the 2021 Inaugural Champions of Diversity. There were five winners: one from a small business category, one from a large business category, one from an education category, and two individual Champion of Diversity award winners. The 2021 Champion of Diversity Small Business Award recipient is PZI International Consulting. As an international organization, diversity is a large part of their company. They encourage and embrace an inclusive work environment where everyone’s voice is heard. PZI helps organizations empower their employees to succeed in global markets. The 2021 Champion of Diversity Large Business Award recipient is NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center (MSFC). Marshall Space Flight Center’s Office of Diversity and Equal Opportunity is responsible for contributing to a positive workplace environment for all employees. MSFC is diverse, and maintaining that diversity helps to ensure that their goals are achieved. They were also one of the founding organizations for the DEI Future & Beyond Symposium. The 2021 Champion of Diversity Education Award recipient is The University of Alabama in Huntsville (UAH). The UAH Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion’s fundamental mission is to facilitate the development, implementation and incorporation of programs, policies and practices that advance the educational benefits that flow from a diverse administration, faculty, staff and student body. UAH is committed to a campus environment that honors the


Delois Smith, professional consultant

individual, celebrates differences and fosters equal opportunities. Two outstanding community members were recognized for the 2021 Champion of Diversity Individual Award. The first 2021 Champion of Diversity Individual Award recipient is Delois Smith. Smith has been working in diversity, equity and inclusion for many years and is a DEI subject matter expert. She held two successive vice president positions at UAH, initially as the vice president for student affairs and second as vice president for diversity and multicultural affairs. Smith was appointed by the UAH president to serve as chief diversity officer and develop the office of diversity, equity and inclusion for the UAH campus. Today, she continues to serve as a professional consultant to local and national organizations. The second 2021 Champion of Diversity Individual Award recipient is Frank Williams. Williams is the executive manager and managing partner of Landers McLarty, with all of his automotive dealerships being ranked amongst the top dealerships in the country. His philosophy has been branding the community and its people through partnerships, sponsorships, and community involvement. As a local business leader who is active on many boards and has received numerous awards and recognitions, Williams is intentional to create an environment where others can grow and create opportunities. Our community is enriched by these award recipients’ leadership and dedication towards diversity, equity and inclusion. A short video for each winner is located at diversityhsv.org under Champions of Diversity. We encourage you to watch these and learn about the award winners’ DEI initiatives and why they were chosen as the 2021 Champions of Diversity. – Lydia Pennington

Frank Williams, Landers McLarty jun 2021 initiatives


Ready to Serve

Chamber partners with Hiring Our Heroes to accelerate workforce recruitment



n April 22, the Huntsville/Madison County Chamber and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation announced a formal partnership with Hiring Our Heroes (HOH). Huntsville has been selected as the newest site for a full-time program manager to support the HOH Corporate Fellowship Program and other recruitment resources for transitioning military service members. “Service men and women are proven leaders and team players with valuable skills that transfer easily into our economy,” said Lucia Cape, the Huntsville/Madison County Chamber’s senior vice president of economic development & workforce. “Hiring Our Heroes is not only a natural fit for our aerospace and defense companies, but also for our manufacturers in automotive, electronics and other precision industries.”

Hiring Our Heroes’ mission is to connect the military community with civilian companies to create economic opportunity and a strong and diversified workforce. 16

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As one of the fastest growing tech cities in the United States, Huntsville is projected to add more than 25,000 new jobs by the end of 2022 in aerospace, defense, manufacturing, construction, logistics, and technology. The demand to fill these roles with talent from the military community is high. Eric Eversole, president of Hiring Our Heroes and vice president at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, said that program applicants have been showing interest in making Huntsville their post-military home for some time. “Hiring Our Heroes is committed to connecting these employers with top talent from the military community to fill in-demand roles. Expanding the Corporate Fellowship Program (CFP) to Huntsville is an all-round winwin,” Eversole said. As part of the partnership, HOH has hired a fulltime program manager, Preston Webb, who will be Webb dedicated to connecting Huntsville companies with transitioning military talent. To learn more about hosting a fellow through the Huntsville CFP, email him: pwebb@uschamber.com. “I am very excited for this opportunity for Hiring Our Heroes to expand its operations into Huntsville and to also be a part of this team,” said Webb. “As a local who was born and raised here, I am looking forward to assisting in bringing more Veterans to our area and working on enriching the opportunities for our transitioning military members here on Redstone Arsenal.” Corporate sponsors have priority access to the HOH resources and receive additional promotion within the program, including exclusive invitations to all Chamber-hosted veteran recruitment events. Sponsorships are available at the $10,000 and $25,000 levels with tiered benefits. For a complete list of benefits and to purchase a sponsorship through the Huntsville/Madison County Chamber, contact Kristy Drake (kdrake@hsvchamber.org). Launched at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash., in 2015, the Corporate Fellowship Program (CFP) is a DoD SkillBridge program available to transitioning service members during their last 180 days of active duty. Through the program, fellows gain insight into developing careers with America’s most sought-after private sector organizations while, at the same time, connecting employers with much-needed top talent from the military community. The program has experienced unbridled success, growing from three locations in 2015 to more than 15 sites across 13 states and the District of Columbia. Approximately 1,261 service members completed fellowships in 2020 with more than 350 companies hosting fellows. The average salary for fellows who gained employment was over $90,000.


Building Huntsville and North Alabama for 36 years.


As we celebrate our 75th anniversary, we also celebrate the communities that made it possible. Mid-City Amphitheater Huntsville, Alabama

Danny Davis, Market President Renasant Bank

Tell us about your business... Renasant is a 117-year-old bank with humble beginnings in Tupelo, Mississippi. Headquartered in Tupelo, and one of the Southeast’s strongest financial institutions, we’ve grown to more than $15.6 billion in total assets with over 200 offices across seven states. Renasant has had a presence in Huntsville since 2006.

Many companies had challenges in 2020 for different reasons. Did Renasant face any issues or opportunities you didn’t expect? Like all businesses, Renasant faced challenges in 2020. Fortunately, banks are essential and we were allowed to continue to have employees report for work. We live in this community, and we care about the well-being of both it and our clients, so we wanted to do anything to provide stability. In addition, the PPP loan program was developed and we were able to meet the needs of our clients and local businesses to keep the Huntsville economy moving. Our organization quickly built a successful PPP delivery process for our clients, and delivered more than $1 billion in PPP funds. We also quickly developed internal protocols to protect employees, our offices remained staffed and available throughout the pandemic, and we were able to support some of the critical humanitarian agencies in our community that could not hold normal fund raising efforts.

4900 University Square, Suite 2, Huntsville, AL 35816


What has our community’s growth meant for you? We are so fortunate to be in Huntsville during this time of phenomenal growth and transition in our city. Renasant has added a third location downtown on the Square, as well as new staff to meet the demand. Huntsville is realizing the success of so many initiatives simultaneously; the city has developed a natural energy that is attracting new residents and businesses. We have a great opportunity to participate in the positive economic and community growth Huntsville is experiencing.

What would you say to other businesses considering an investment in the Huntsville/Madison County Chamber? Take time to consider all of the successful initiatives and look for the Chamber’s role in bringing those initiatives to life. We have a hardworking Chamber that has actively planned and laid the groundwork for the success of much of the local expansion. The explosive growth and success that looks organic today resulted from the years of hard work and initiative of the Chamber.


jun 2021 initiatives


Baseball is Back!

Crowds are ready to cheer on Trash Pandas, return of minor league baseball locally


his summer, the crack of the bat and roar of the crowd return. Make sure to catch the Rocket City Trash Pandas in action during their debut season! The Trash Pandas are the AA affiliate of the Los Angeles Angels and are managed by former Major League All-Star shortstop Jay Bell. Five of the top prospects in the Angels’ organization are on the Rocket City roster. They’ll make their home at the spectacular $46 million Toyota Field, with capacity for 7,500, including luxury boxes, concourse-level suites, a party deck and other areas. There’s easy access to the ballpark with the opening of Phase 1 of the I-565 interchange at Town Madison. And come hungry – there’s everything from traditional ballpark fare to unique offerings from the team’s executive chef, Ryan Curry. It’s a digital experience for fans, as parking is conducted through the Clutch! app and the stadium is cashless – it’s one of Minor League Baseball’s first venues to make this move. Credit and debit cards are accepted at all concession stands, The Junkyard Team Store, ticket office, and parking lot. Trash Cards, Toyota Field’s in-house form of payment, can also be used for concessions, merchandise, and tickets. Speaking of tickets, put a game on your calendar and make your purchase now. “I’d act quickly to buy them – depending on when you want to come, fireworks nights will sell out more quickly,” said Maddison Kendrick, community relations manager for the Trash Pandas. “Go ahead and get your tickets now, even if you’re not planning to come to a game until July or August.” You can buy tickets online or at the box office. The website is milb. com/rocket-city and there’s plenty of information to help you plan your outing with friends, family or your business at the ballpark.


– Claire Aiello


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Madison County

City of Huntsville

City of Madison

Huntsville Metro Area

community profile

2010 Census















% Growth HOUSEHOLDS & INCOME # of Households





Avg. Household Income





Per Capita Income





As of May 2021

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

Top 10 Employers: Huntsville & Madison County U.S. Army/Redstone Arsenal* . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 38,000* Huntsville Hospital System . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 9,352 NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center* . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 6,000 Huntsville City Schools . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3,000 The Boeing Company . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2,900 Dynetics, Inc. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2,796 SAIC . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2,746 Madison County Schools . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2,389 City of Huntsville . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2,206 Northrop Grumman Corporation . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1,970 Source: Huntsville/Madison County Chamber

*includes on-site contractors

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

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

For more information, visit:


LOCAL FIRM, NATIONAL RESOURCES With 13 locations across the Southeast and over 800 employees, we pride ourselves on having the vast resources of a national firm, yet our approach is rooted in a strong local presence. Beyond tax and audit services, our advisors can guide you through every business situation. From business continuity planning to technology upgrades to managing staffing needs, Warren Averett can provide you with a broad range of innovative solutions tailored to your specific needs. We’re here for you.

Contact Ray White today to see how we can help you. S. RAY WHITE JR., CPA Huntsville Managing Member 256.713.2686 ray.white@warrenaverett.com

101 Monroe Street NE | Huntsville, AL 35801 | www.warrenaverett.com


jun 2021 initiatives


In this issue, we begin a new series about economic development in Huntsville/Madison County. Most people here know the story of a small local company called M&S Computing, which became Intergraph, which became a global force called Hexagon. Examples like that show Huntsville’s capacity as a business incubator, where a startup with the right idea, strong work ethic, and local support can become a powerhouse. We are well known for big government contractors, and we also have household names like Toyota, Facebook, and Polaris, but our small businesses are just as important to our economy. Success doesn’t happen by accident. Most people don’t realize Huntsville, Madison, and Madison County government and business leaders craft growth strategies decades in advance and plan for issues like diversification, stability, and infrastructure. Where is the available land? Who will work there? Are roads sufficient? Is the right technology available? Are schools nearby? These are all questions site selectors often answer on their own before they pick up the phone or visit. Other cities envy Huntsville’s “secret sauce” for economic growth. A new series of articles in Initiatives will pull back the curtain on what makes the area successful in growing local companies and attracting new ones.

Series by Deborah Storey

The year 2010 came roaring in bright with promise and ushered in the “decade of the bull” on Wall Street. A global pandemic was still science fiction as companies thrived in a favorable economy. Huntsville continued to grow, adding 28,000 jobs from existing and new companies by 2019. For some local small businesses, the last decade launched them into the stratosphere of success as contracts doubled, tripled “and beyond!,” to borrow a phrase from Buzz Lightyear. Here are four of their stories.

Members of CFD Research’s leadership team: (back row L-R) Stephen Cayson, COO and VP Federal Services Division; Sami Habchi, Executive VP Aerospace and Defense Solutions; and Kapil Pant, Executive VP Biomedical and Life Sciences; (front L-R) Peggy Sargent, CFO; Sameer Singhal, President & CEO. Lower image: The company is growing significantly. It broke ground on a $10 million, 15,000 square foot addition at the Cummings Research Park headquarters in May.

CFD Research Corporation is one of those great Huntsville tales of a multi-million-dollar business that started in the family basement. When President/CEO Sameer Singhal looks back at the last decade or so, he must be proud, to say the least. In just more than 10 years, the company’s growth has been practically off the charts. “I took over as president and CEO in 2016,” said Singhal. At that time, “we were 78 employees and $17 million in revenue. We closed 2020 at 156 employees and $36 million in revenue.” CFD is poised to get even larger, literally. Company officials broke ground in May on a $10 million, 15,000-square-foot addition to their headquarters in Cummings Research Park. The space is “going to house biomedical, energy, and electronics laboratories, and a high-performance computing center,” Singhal said. Singhal took over at a time when CFD needed a boost. From 2010 to 2016 “we were flat or maybe even shrinking a bit.” The secret to growth, he says modestly, is hire “good people and let them do good things.” CFD’s leadership made a decision to do more onsite support to customers and go after larger, more competitive contracts. “AMCOM Express is a big contract vehicle in Huntsville. We won a large $36 million contract in January 2017, so that was kind of a game changer for us,” he said. CFD gets about 70 percent of its work from DoD contracts and another 20 percent from NASA. The company does engineering design, prototyping and early-stage manufacturing. “We’re doing weather effects on missile systems – for hypersonic missiles, looking at how weather impacts missile flight path,” Singhal said. “We can predict the chance of a successful missile intercept as a function of weather. “We do a lot of biomedical work with the National Institute of Health,” he added, as well as business with the Department of Energy and other government agencies. For NASA’s Space Launch System, CFD is working on acoustics of the launch pad and “sloshing of the fuel in propellent tanks.” This spring, CFD opened its own prototype test and evaluation facility in Hollywood, Ala. (Jackson County), going from three employees in formerly leased space to eight. Singhal credits the Huntsville/ Madison County Chamber with helping him promote teamwork principles “like trust and healthy conflict and not being scared to speak your mind, and not having silos between different groups in the company.” Collaboration, he believes, is “really what turned everything around.” The company is employee owned. CFD’s staff reflects 23 college majors and workers from at least 16 states. “We’ve got aerospace and A HUNTSVILLE/MADISON COUNTY CHAMBER PUBLICATION


Continuing a Legacy

mechanical engineers, obviously, but we have chemical engineers, biologists, biochemists, chemists, meteorologists, mathematicians, computer scientists,” he said. “We have over 50 Ph.D’s on staff, so about a third of our employees are Ph.D’s.” Singhal grew up in Huntsville and attended Randolph School, then Georgia Tech and Stanford University. His parents started the company in 1987 in their basement on Lucerne Drive and are still on the board. After several moves, they bought the old Coleman Research Building at 6820 Moquin Drive. Singhal once told his father “by no means was I going to take over the company,” he said with a laugh. “Huntsville has done a really good job of attracting these government agencies into town,” said Singhal, citing the FBI and others. The city is welcoming, modern and diverse, he said. “If you can get them to come visit and take a tour, we’re able to attract really good talent to the city.” Companies here work together well, too. “There seems to be more cooperation than competition,” he said.

cover story continued on page 22 jun 2021 initiatives


Lighting a Flame

Torch’s headquarters is located in Huntsville at Freedom Center campus (above) which features research facilities and a 12,000-square-foot conference center.

For most companies, doubling growth in a decade would be reason to pop open a few bottles of champagne. Employees at Huntsville’s Torch Technologies deserved a whole case of bubbly after seeing revenue grow by a factor of more than 10. Torch President and CEO John Watson said that in 2010, the company posted $50 million in revenue with 167 employees. By 2020, they were at a jaw-dropping $545 million across 101 contracts and more than 1,100 employees. Torch now has a $2.3 billion active contract ceiling. “We had a good decade,” said Watson humbly. Bill Roark and Don Holder founded Torch in 2002. In 2010, it operated in one building and all employees were local. Torch now has five buildings – adding a sixth this summer – eight offices and 10 field locations that include Colorado, Florida, and Hawaii. “Now 30 percent of our employees are located outside Huntsville,” said Watson. The main impetus for growth, Watson said, came in 2011 when Torch became employee-owned. “We already had a lot of enthusiasm, but that just took it to the next level in terms of employee engagement,” he said. People began showing up for any task. “That was the enthusiasm that lit the flame, so to speak,” he said. Torch’s business is mostly DoD. Projects include the first robotic helicopter refueling, and 16,000-pound blades for front-end loaders to clear unexploded ordnance from roadways. “It’s a whole portfolio of contracts and not a single Watson contract that lifted us to this state,” said Watson. “We’ve been doing more solutions work where we’re developing either instruments or hardware prototypes or special mechanical electrical equipment,” he said. Torch’s sister company, Freedom Real Estate and Capital, has developed more than 400,000 square feet of real estate in Huntsville. Like many business leaders here, Watson praises the work of elected officials and others for creating an excellent business climate. “Huntsville is just a very entrepreneurial town,” he said. “A lot of people are forward leaning.” Companies work together to affect policy when possible, he added.

Temporary Setback The last decade brought highs – and turbulence – for the family business Brown Precision, Inc. Co-CEO and CFO Greg Brown said his father did some work with a legendary local company years ago. “One of his clients was a little company called M&S Computing that went on to become Intergraph. He was their first CFO and that consumed him from the late ’70s to 1983 when he had a stroke.” The elder Brown retired. SEMCO, Inc., had been his customer too, and when its owners died, Brown bought the small company in 1986. Sons Greg and Dan were in college and the Air Force. The business was just “a small shop making Department of Defense spare parts” and the like, Greg Brown said. Managers came and went. Before Dan graduated engineering school at the University of Alabama in Huntsville in 1992, he was company president. “He had no idea about business, but he knew how to work hard,” said Greg, who joined the small company in 1995. “My brother learned what our market needed to be.” Brown Precision specializes in composite and waterjet machining, as well as G. Brown prototype and reverse engineering at locations in Huntsville and Atmore. They employ roughly 90 people. Business includes medical implants like bone plates, bone screws,

Brown Precision’s presence in Atmore, Ala. (above) continues to grow as the company approaches its five-year anniversary at the location.

continued on page 24 22

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A Focus on the Future A city of dreamers with a focus on the future. Huntsville. The Tennessee Valley. An area on the move. From manufacturing to research to the Space Command, our region is creating jobs and opportunities for more people every day. Our dreams are within reach. Regions Bank has been part of this community for over 186 years. Our roots run deep, and, in many ways, Regions was born here. And while the name has changed over time, our commitment to meeting the financial needs of this community has only grown. Regions has teams of bankers who can help entrepreneurs, employers and individual consumers alike with major financial decisions. Our Commercial Banking team supports visionaries who are growing our economy and making new investments that contribute to the Valley’s strong quality of life. Regions’ Commercial advisors in Huntsville have, on average, more than 25 years of experience serving business clients. Their credentials and commitment to our hometown are a tremendous asset to the area. We recognize our work isn’t just about banking. It is about the success of our communities. Our team lives here. We work here. And we want to be a part of positive change in the places we serve. We don’t take that commitment lightly. There are many ways Regions gives back. You see it when our teams volunteer their time and share their experience, such as teaching financial education to people of all ages, helping students and adults alike reach their short-term and long-term goals. We also financially support community partners that are meeting a wide range of needs, such as fueling workforce readiness and creating more economic development.

Specifically, we’ve identified three key areas where Regions can make the most difference. ▶ Education & Workforce Readiness. Through our work with Kids to Love, the Huntsville/Madison County Chamber, and other education and workforce readiness organizations, Regions is helping empower people with the tools they need to succeed. ▶ Financial Wellness. We believe the path to a better tomorrow starts with a foundation of financial literacy so people can use and grow their resources to reach individual goals. ▶ Economic & Community Development. Through our collaboration with the Huntsville/Madison County Chamber, Regions is working hand-in-hand with the professionals who represent our area to prospective employers and secure the opportunities of tomorrow. Huntsville has the best minds in research, education, technology, and space defense working together for the common good. For years, we’ve dreamed of this type of economy, and it is here. Our future is bright and is paved with opportunity. Regions is proud to be part of the past and present growth of this area. And, we’re committed to the long-term success of Huntsville, Madison County, and the entire Tennessee Valley.

200 Clinton Avenue W, Huntsville, AL 35801 256-535-6868 | 1-800-REGIONS


Sean Kelly

Huntsville Market Executive Regions Bank

surgical instruments, and artificial knees. They also work with Dynetics and Lockheed Martin on hypersonic missile components. Brown’s first big partnership was with PPG Aerospace to make metal retainers for aircraft transparencies – frames for airplane cockpit windows. A contract with GE to make parts for 737 LEAP-1B engines is pending, leaving Brown Precision with “about $7 million of finished goods in our inventory,” Brown said. He’s hopeful the work will resume. Factors for success include a supportive business climate, a bond issue from the Industrial Development Board and a Chamber that treats small companies “just like Toyota,” he said. “Right now we have fantastic leadership,” Brown said. “Everybody’s speaking the same language when we approach either Montgomery or D.C.”

economic prosperity and growth down to small businesses like ours,” said Martin, who credits “pro-business leadership from the top down. “Mayor Battle was a business owner and knows what it takes for a business to survive and thrive. The same goes for Mayor Spencer. She was a great leader as well.” Martin opened the first Steak-Out on Jordan Lane in 1986 with 12 employees. “Our companies have enjoyed steady growth and currently operate five brands with 14 locations and approximately 1,100 employees,” he said. Besides Rosie’s, the brands are Steak-Out, Walton’s Southern Table, Shaggy’s and Ted’s BBQ. Huntsville isn’t just a great place to do business, said Martin. “It is a great place to live,” he said. – Deborah Storey

Great Place to Live The last decade has brought steady business for many Huntsville restaurants as well. One of the biggest local success stories is the group that includes Rosie’s Mexican Cantina and Little Rosie’s. David Martin, president of Right Way Restaurants, said “job growth has been incredible. “The combined efforts of the Chamber and City in successfully recruiting diversified industries and quality jobs drive

GDP Growth



35% 30% 25% 20%

The Huntsville/Madison County community is the economic driver for the north Alabama Region. With a 16-county regional population of 1.3 million people, the economy is strong and growing.

15% 10% 5%







Employment Growth











Our workforce of highly skilled, highly educated people belongs to a diverse community of industries including aerospace & defense, information technology, advanced manufacturing, and bioscience.






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2021-2025 forecasts included













Photo: SimTech holds a teambuilding event at Redstone Lanes.

Fully Committed

SimTech named 2020 Technology Business of the Year


imulation Technologies, Inc. (SimTech) was incorporated in 1983 by an experienced group of scientists and engineers to pursue and perform on high-technology defense-oriented contracts. It won its first small business prime contract that year, performing engineering services for the U.S. Army’s Hardware-in-the-Loop (HWIL) simulation facility, the Radio Frequency Simulation System (RFSS) facility.

Today, SimTech proudly supports U.S. Department of Defense agencies through prime contracts and teaming partners. The company now has 180 employees. SimTech won two big awards from the Huntsville/Madison County Chamber in 2020: Best


initiatives jun 2021

Place to Work (Bronze) in the Large category, and Technology Business of the Year in the Small Business Awards. Dr. Annie Saylor, president and CEO, said both awards brought SimTech’s longtime commitment to employees, customers and business partners full circle. “As a company that has, from the very beginning 38 years ago, focused on our employees and their benefits, it meant a great deal to finally have our culture recognized with these awards,” said Dr. Saylor. SimTech’s community reputation is strong and its economic footprint continues to expand through new business partnerships and strategic growth opportunities. Saylor said the company is committed to continued ethical business practices through continuous quality and process improvements, adherence to compliance regulations and leading by example. “Our goals are to continue our recent growth, provide mentoring and leadership development opportunities for our employees, and continue our excellence in support to our customers. We want to maintain our culture during growth and provide opportunities for advancement among our leaders,” said Dr. Saylor. – Claire Aiello


Much More Than Books

HMCPL celebrates grand opening of $9 million library in north Huntsville


he Huntsville-Madison County Public Library (HMCPL) added a new state-of-the-art library to its system, with the grand opening of the new North Huntsville Public Library on April 7, 2021. Designed by Fuqua and Partners Architects and built by Lee Builders, the library is a renovation of and addition to the former Berachah Academy, which served as both a school and police training academy in its history. The North Huntsville Public Library, which replaced two smaller and outdated libraries, is 19,000 square feet and features the latest amenities including a workforce development lab, a Makerspace with 3D printers, a laptop checkout kiosk, and an automated sorting machine. It also has a large community meeting room, an additional meeting space, a teen room, and a public lounge. “Libraries connect people to resources that build community,” said Cindy Hewitt, interim executive director for HMCPL. “The community created the vision for their library, and it will be a valuable resource for generations.” The $9 million library started as a grassroots movement from

need for more recreational facilities. The City of Huntsville developed the campus surrounding the library into a park with a playground, walking trails, pavilion, pickleball courts, multipurpose fields, and a gym. All of these amenities are part of the new Dr. Robert Shurney Legacy Center, named after the famed NASA engineer who was one of the first African-American engineers to work in the U.S. Space Program. The second phase of the North Huntsville Public Library will be the redevelopment of the second floor. The Library’s intention is to use it for additional workforce development space. “The second floor is a blank canvas, and we are really excited to create a plan for this space, based on current workforce needs,” said Christina Tabereaux, director of development for HMCPL. Meeting space is available to reserve at the North Huntsville Public Library. For more information, please visit hmcpl.org or call Adrienne Bone, manager of the North Huntsville Public Library, at 256-851-7492. The HMCPL is also finalizing construction of the new South Huntsville Library at the Sandra Moon Community Complex, scheduled to open later this summer. – Melanie Thornton

Huntsville-Madison County Public Library

Left: Aerial view of the North Huntsville Public Library / Dr. Robert Shurney Legacy Center on Sparkman Drive. Below: Meeting space available at this location can be reserved online. members of the community in 2016. With support from both public and private partners, the City of Huntsville and the Library hosted community planning meetings as part of the Big Picture Masterplan to prioritize amenities. “This is a great example of what happens when public and private entities come together to make something exceptional for the community,” added Hewitt. The North Huntsville Capital Campaign Committee, headed by Kim Lewis, raised nearly $2 million for the project. Major donors include Redstone Federal Credit Union, First Missionary Baptist Church Foundation, Alabama A&M University, Madison County Commission District 6, The James Cecil & Margaret G. Ashburn Foundation, and Toyota Alabama. As part of the planning efforts, the community also stressed the A HUNTSVILLE/MADISON COUNTY CHAMBER PUBLICATION

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Bright Future

MaDonni Beauty: 2020 Emerging Business of the Year


estiny Payton-Williams is owner of MaDonni Beauty, and has a clear vision for the company in the next 10 years. “The goals for MaDonni are to create a #1 product line for hair and skin, a makeup line, and franchising beauty supply stores and the MaDonni brand nationwide,” Payton-Williams said. The name MaDonni comes from her grandmother’s and father’s names combined. “My grandmother was my inspiration into entrepreneurship. I started in fashion with an online store, and then got into the hair industry which sparked me noticing the necessity for ownership in the beauty supply business,” she explained. MaDonni is a beauty supply store that offers various beauty needs, with salon suites that will offer beauty services such as hair, makeup, and nail care. Pay-

ton-Williams opened her first brick and mortar store last year, less than three weeks before shutdowns occurred during COVID. It is located at 1010 Jordan Lane NW, just north of University Drive. The company won Emerging Business of the Year in the Chamber’s 2020 Small Business Awards. Winning this award brought new energy for the company, Payton-Williams said. “It meant that all my hard work, investments, creativity and sacrifices weren’t in vain. It was definitely an honor that motivated me even more,” she said. Payton-Williams, who also serves on the Women’s Business Council, offers this advice to other small businesses: “Don’t give up and don’t be afraid to start where you are... God will provide!” – Claire Aiello



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RTP: Workforce Solutions

Classes are available to companies at no cost through AIDT


he Alabama Robotics Technology Park (RTP) is a hidden gem located in Limestone County, just outside of Decatur, Alabama. The 85-acre facility is comprised of three building phases, and includes an outdoor testing track. Each phase has a unique specialization, and continues to evolve based on the needs of the industries and clients that RTP supports. The Robotics Technology Park’s mission is to provide a technically trained, highly skilled, and educated workforce for automation and robotics, to assist public and private entities in developing new robotics systems and technologies, and to promote the creation, growth, or expansion of companies through innovative technology solutions. RTP achieves this a number of ways, including by continuing to evolve, ensuring that equipment is state-of-the-art, the classes are forward thinking, and by being flexible to the needs of Alabama companies. There is a wealth of knowledge being shared in the classes taught at Robotics Technology Park, and

it is available to Alabama companies and their employees at no cost. Class subjects range from Advanced FCAW to Virtual Reality, with dozens of class opportunities that make it easy for Alabama companies to partner with the park to bring their employees up to speed on new and advanced techniques. RTP facilitates a wide range of classes including courses that teach on equipment made by industry partners such as FANUC, ABB, AGV, Yaskawa Motoman, and KUKA. Classes in PLC, welding, hydraulic and pneumatic, basic electrical, solid modeling, vision, 3D printing, OSHA, forklift, and overhead crane training, as well as virtual reality training in plant safety, precision measurement and paint robot troubleshooting are also available. The Robotics Maintenance Training Center (Phase 1) is where several state-of-the-art training classes are conducted in the latest automation processes and equipment. Trainees receive “handson” experience, familiarizing them with the latest equipment being used by Alabama industries. Alabama companies within the robotics industry can register as a client and send their employees to any of RTP’s available courses at no charge. It is also equipped with two conference rooms and a large auditorium that is available for use to educational and business partners. The Research and Development Center (Phase 2) was created to give public and private entities that are engaged in research and development of robot/ automation technologies a location to conduct these activities. Each suite has raised access flooring in sectional panels and a common high bay with two large roll-up doors that allow access to the 0.9-mile outdoor test track. The Integration/Entrepreneurial Center (Phase 3) gives Alabama businesses the floor space to build and adapt automation for new and existing manufacturing processes, then train staff on equipment processes before moving equipment into the plant. The Paint/Dispense Training component offers opportunities for Alabama businesses to train in manual paint spraying techniques, as well as robotic dispense training, or can be used for dispense process research and testing. In addition, RTP offers a mobile robotics training lab (MRTL) designed to introduce the world of robotics and automation to students, educators, and parents. Featuring some of the newest technology in the robotics industry, the MRTL gives individuals an opportunity to learn about the exciting career opportunities in Alabama while being fun and engaging. Some of the highlights include: 3D printing & scanning, a forklift simulator, FANUC robotics, welding simulators and drone simulators. The newest phase of robotics and automation training is taking


Alabama companies within the robotics industry can register as a client and send their employees to any of RTP’s available courses at no charge.


initiatives jun 2021


shape with an ongoing program called RTP 2.0 which was announced in January 2020. Focusing on Industry 4.0, which is the digitization of manufacturing, RTP 2.0 gives Alabama companies access to the newest and most updated equipment for training their employees for the “smart factory” of the future. Not only focusing on robotics and automation, RTP 2.0 helps manufacturers solve challenges based around advanced matters and joining technologies, but also additive manufacturing and tooling maintenance. Looking forward to the future, RTP will continue building upon the Industry 4.0 standard by adding training in the following areas: RFID systems, CNC, Stamping, Tool & Die, Metal Printing, Drone Training and Laser Welding. The Alabama Robotics Technology Park is a centralized hub that connects business and industry with the world-class training need-


ed for their employees. The park’s commitment to the ever-evolving world of robotics technology continues to bring companies to north Alabama, foster economic development and build tomorrow’s workforce today. Don Griffith, HR Training Specialist for YKTA, shares, “We utilize the resources at RTP to provide our engineers and maintenance team members with advanced robotic and controller training as well as the basics such as hydraulic/pneumatic, AC/DC electrical and motor controls. RTP has been supportive of our training needs and has worked with us on enhancing the training experience of our team members.” To schedule a tour or for more information, contact Patrick Witt at 256-642-2548 or Lisa Stockton at 256-642-2600. – Hannah Hartline, AIDT

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The Right Spark

47E named 2020 Service Business of the Year


tacey and William Riggle moved to North Alabama from Montgomery in 2008 and said they quickly knew this was a place they wanted to stay. They founded 47E in 2015. The company provides custom electrical services, ranging from installing electrical wiring and components in new custom homes to troubleshooting electrical difficulties for commercial clients. “On any given week you can find us helping homeowners figure out why a breaker is tripping, upgrading an electrical service to a home, assisting customers in designing solar panel arrays to harness the sun’s power, designing emergency backup generator systems for businesses and homeowners alike or collaborating with a local business owner to decide what electrical changes they can make in their business to decrease energy consumption,” said William Riggle. The Riggles ran the business on their


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own for a few years, then hired their first employee in 2018. They said that completely changed the game and gave them the momentum to build a thriving business. During the Huntsville/Madison County Chamber’s annual Small Business Awards event last October, 47E won the Service Business of the Year award. They said one of their driving philosophies is to grow electrical professionals. “There will always be a need for educated electricians and we take the role of training and development of future electricians seriously,” said Stacey Riggle. “In the next 10 years, we would like to graduate at least six new apprentices into the electrical field. This will be done through on-the-job training along with formal education provided by North Alabama Craft Training Foundation.” – Claire Aiello


Family Matters

New Beginnings: 2020 Professional Services Business of the Year


mber James is the founder of New Beginnings Family Law, which has grown significantly since the firm’s early days. In 2006, she started it as James Family Law Center in an office she rented from an insurance agent in Decatur. She had just a laptop and a cell phone and hired her first employee a year later. In 2010, the name became James Family Law Firm, and four years later, New Beginnings Family Law. “This final change allowed us to better communicate our mission and our goal of helping each client experience a new beginning,” said James. New Beginnings Family Law now has 14 employees, including four lawyers. It is an openly Christian law firm, and the team aims to help clients during some of the most challenging and stressful times in their lives. “From creating and reviewing prenuptial agreements to creating estate plans to help clients leave a legacy for their families, we help clients work through any issue that touches or concerns their families,” said James. “Sometimes, those issues are


particularly difficult for our clients such as the need to dissolve a marriage relationship, seek protection from domestic violence, protect a person’s parental rights, help a relative protect a child from abuse or neglect, pursue overdue child support, or hold a former spouse accountable for violating the terms of an order.” New Beginnings Family Law has consistently been nominated for the Chamber’s Best Places to Work® Awards, and has won silver and bronze awards in the micro category. The team has big goals ahead, too. In the next 10 years, New Beginnings Family Law plans to add additional practice areas or concentrations, open offices in at least three other metropolitan areas in Alabama, and create a non-profit foundation to provide funding for the appointment of Guardians Ad Litem in divorce cases, conflict resolution for parents experiencing extreme conflict in custody matters, and counseling for the children trapped between high conflict parents. – Claire Aiello

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Crossing the Finish Line

Para-cyclists enjoy return to competition, warm welcome in Rocket City


County Chamber, and Cummings Research Park, the local organizing committee and city embraced us with open arms, becoming one of our most successful domestic events to date. We look forward to coming back to Huntsville in the future.” We offer thanks to the Presenting Sponsor, Toyota, Associate Sponsor, BP, plus our local sponsors: Toyota Motor Manufacturing Alabama, the Huntsville/Madison County Convention & Visitors Bureau, Raytheon Technologies, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Alabama, PHOENIX, Aerojet Rocketdyne, Nesin Therapy Services, and KBR. Thank you also to the City of Huntsville, City of Huntsville Parks & Recreation, Landscape Management, Public Works, Huntsville Police Department, Huntsville Utilities, Huntsville City Schools, Columbia High School, Huntsville Hospital System, Crestwood Medical Center, HEMSI, The Orthopaedic Center (TOC), SportsMED Orthopedic Surgery & Spine Center, The Westin Huntsville, The Element Huntsville, and the Huntsville Sports Commission. – Claire Aiello & Erin Koshut


fter 13 months of no racing, the 2021 U.S. Paralympics Cycling Open, presented by Toyota, brought back the return of competition for Para-cyclists the weekend of April 17-18 in Huntsville’s Cummings Research Park. This was such a special opportunity to watch some of America’s fastest Para athletes compete to make Team USA. How often do you get to see handcyclists, tricyclists, cyclists, and tandem teams fly by? Look for some of these cyclists to compete in the Paralympics this August in Tokyo! We offer our gratitude to community organizations, sponsors, event volunteers, and fans who showed the athletes and their support teams such a warm welcome. We received tremendous amounts of positive comments from the athletes and staff about their experience in Huntsville. “Huntsville was the perfect place for our Para-cyclists to return to competition,” said Ian Lawless, director of U.S. Paralympics Cycling. “In addition to the support from Toyota, BP, the Huntsville/Madison


initiatives jun 2021



Para athletes compete in handcycling, tricycling, cycling, and tandem events in Cummings Research Park on April 17-18. Some have medaled in past Paralympics and others competed in the hopes of making Team USA for the first time, to go on to compete in Tokyo this August. The director of U.S. Paralympics Cycling, Ian Lawless, said Huntsville was one of their “most successful domestic events to date.”


jun 2021 initiatives



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

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

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

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

Huntsville Regional Economic Growth Initiative (HREGI)

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Initiatives, June 2021  

Initiatives, June 2021  

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