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OCT 2021

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Joined in July 2021 1st Family Mortgage Company 1st Impression Cleaning Services, Inc. Bank of America Beekeeper Group LLC Blue & Associates, LLC Commercial Real Estate CDO Consulting Services, LLC Clarity Business and Jewelry Consulting Colonial Printing Mailing Packaging CopperLeaf Properties, LLC Crate Pros CSL Plasma Fibertek, Inc. First Federal Mortgage, Madison Fischer & Haden Gallagher Benefit Services Huntsville Magazine Inside Out Studio (IOS) Jonathan’s Grille Madison Grove Apartments & Townhomes Mechvision Inc. MLJ Escrow, LLC North Alabama War Dawgs ON Site Phil Sandoval’s Preferred Care at Home of Greater Huntsville Staffmark Investment LLC Sugaring NYC - Huntsville The Library OF Tower Community Bank Wes Kane HomeTown Expert @ T-Mobile West Huntsville Main Street Wilson Plastic Surgery

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initiatives OCT 2021

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 Crystal Baker, Membership Retention Specialist: 256-535-2039 or

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 August 2021 ADP - Kayla Rodriguez Advancing Sight Network AKI USA Corporation Alabama Public Radio – 100.7 FM America’s Home Place Anthem Luxury Rental Homes Bedzzz Express Blue Ink Closing and Title, LLC Buff City Soap Capital Trailways - Huntsville CBD American Shaman of Huntsville Dave & Buster’s DSV Futaba Corporation of America Help At Home Henry Woodworks, LLC Integrated Defense Applications, LLC L’Etoile Patisserie Marathon Targets, Inc. Medical Affiliated Research Center Occupational Health Group Palmetto Moon Paragon Research Corporation Plateau GRP Rebecca Lowrey Real Estate Group Redwire Corporation Rhodium Scientific, LLC Rooter-Man TherapySouth – Airport Road Universal Semper Fidelis Foundation Valley Bend Shopping Center A HUNTSVILLE/MADISON COUNTY CHAMBER PUBLICATION






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 ■ Amazon ■ 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. ■ Colliers International ■ Connected Logistics (LogC2) ■ Corporate Tax Advisors, Inc. ■ 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. ■ South State Bank ■ 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 ■ KODA Technologies, Inc. ■ 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


OCT 2021 initiatives


table of contents INITIATIVES MAGAZINE – OCT 2021

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



(see staff listing on page 42) Chamber members: You are encouraged to contribute ideas for our publications. Please send items to The Huntsville/Madison County Chamber maintains editorial control.

pages 22-26 NASA prepares for SLS launch, first the Moon, then Mars + ULA Targeting mid-October for Atlas V Lucy Mission

on the cover An illustration depicting NASA’s Space Launch System (SLS) rocket in the Block 1B crew configuration Credit: NASA

feature stories 11


Recognizing Donna McCrary’s service & retirement



Part 3 in our Economic Development Series



Local high schools implement Ready-to-Work program

editorial designer Kristi Sherrard



contributing writers
















Kristy Drake



editorial staff publisher Chip Cherry, CCE editor Claire Aiello

Ashley Alfaro Kayla Carlile Lyndsay Ferguson Jody Singer Jim Steele Deborah Storey Mike Ward

Leidos, SAS, ADTRAN & more

UAH R&D involvement, James Webb Space Telescope

Restaurants, retail, and residential coming soon Calhoun teams up with CAP & GOWN project

AAMU adds MPA Program for Spring 2022 Drake State receives NASA’s INCLUDES award

Job candidates through Pre-Hire Work Experience program

Local Olympians represent north Alabama in Tokyo Huntsville/CRP connection turned to cheers for para-athletes

Jamie Russell

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: Turner Construction Company with Tyce Hudson






MANUFACTURING SPOTLIGHT: Meet four individuals of our local workforce


HIRING OUR HEROES UPDATE: Highlighting four Fellows on their journey


PLANNING A HOLIDAY PARTY?: Hire a Member to jazz up your event





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


OCT 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 –

Many years ago our private and public sector leaders identified a void in the region’s economy. Too many people were underemployed. Part of the solution was to create more employment opportunities within advanced manufacturing. We retooled our marketing and recruitment efforts to include advanced manufacturing as one of our targeted sectors. We have been blessed with success in the form of new investment and job creation. However, the real story lies in the impact the success has had on the people who have been able to take the next step up the socioeconomic ladder, and the stories of the men and women whose lives have changed for the better drive this home. This work matters to our neighbors and the region. The U.S. Paralympics Cycling Open we hosted earlier this year showed the power of the human spirit to overcome challenges. October is National Disabilities Employment Awareness Month. After experiencing the performance of the Para-Cyclists, I have a suggestion – could we rename it “National Abilities Employment Awareness Month”? I encourage you to read Lyndsey’s article on page 34 – it may open the door to a new source of talent. COVID and workforce are the main topics of conversation when I talk to our Members and Partners. Navigating the pandemic is tricky – just when you think you understand what needs to be done, breakthrough cases come along, creating a new set of variables. As we work through the many challenges, please keep our healthcare workers, educators, and essential workers in your thoughts and prayers. On the workforce front, the confluence of retirements, access to childcare, and health concerns has resulted in the pool of available workers dipping well below pre-pandemic levels. Over the next few months, we will share some of the efforts we are undertaking to increase the labor pool. I am confident that working with our partners, we will be able to recruit more people to our region and enhance awareness of the career opportunities in the region. We have a history of successfully tackling challenging tasks – COVID and workforce are just the most recent on the list. It would be easy to be overwhelmed if it were not for our Members, Partners, Volunteers, and our Team here at the Chamber. In the future, we will look back and truly appreciate that by engaging with and supporting each other, our community was able to weather the storm – while growing our economy and creating a more vibrant sense of place. An amazing accomplishment! I also want to congratulate Donna McCrary on her retirement. Donna, you have had a wonderful career here, you’ve brought smiles and cheer to our office every day, and we are truly thankful for your 21 years of service. We wish you the very best as you spend more time with your husband, children, and eight grandchildren. Stay well, and I look forward to seeing you at an in-person event when conditions allow – hopefully soon!

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



initiatives OCT 2021

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

PINK. It’s not just a color, It’s a call to action.

Schedule your annual screening mammogram today! 2D and 3D Mammograms are available at our Huntsville and Madison locations! To schedule your mammogram, please call 256-429-4888.

Madison • Crestwood Madison Outpatient Center 20 Hughes Road Huntsville • Crestwood Women’s Center 185 Chateau Drive *For a list of risk factors and American Cancer Society recommendations, visit Appointments are on a first-come, first-served basis. An order from a physician or qualified healthcare provider is not required, but the patient must provide a physician/provider name when an appointment is made. If the patient does not have a physician/provider, a list will be provided for selection. All mammogram reports will be sent to the physician/provider, and the patient is responsible for follow-up. Check with your insurance provider to confirm coverage for a screening mammogram.

Congratulations, Donna! Chamber’s membership retention manager celebrates retirement after two decades of service


onna McCrary has worn many hats during her time at the Huntsville/Madison County Chamber. Over the last 21 years, she has helped update our database, worked as a front desk coordinator, workforce assistant, and held several positions in membership, including most recently as membership retention manager. Donna retired in September and is looking forward to spending more time with family, especially her husband of 44 years, Landon (a.k.a. Mac), and their eight grandchildren. “I want to spend one-on-one time with each of them and go to watch all of them play in their sports games,” Donna said. “Also, I want to visit a few new places in the U.S. with Landon – he’s traveled all over the world for work, so now it’s our time to have fun!” Donna said she has enjoyed being part of our team over the years, and working with the great volunteers in the Ambassador and Emissary programs. She said she will miss everyone. “Over the years, I have gotten to know many members and have made some very good friends,” Donna said. “I’ll miss the large events from back in the day. It was always fun handing out badges, showing members to their tables, and then staying to hear the great speakers. I have been very proud to be part of the best Chamber of Commerce in the country!” Donna, we will miss you, and we wish you all the best in retirement. Please don’t be a stranger, and you know you are always welcome – especially at our Holiday Open House with your delicious eggnog recipe! Speaking of that… we talked Donna into sharing it with you. You can do it with alcohol or without.


gnog R Donna’s Eg

er: mix togeth Eggnog re-bought o st d s n lo 2-3 gal iled Custar -bought Bo re o ) st g s o n n the Egg 2-3 gallo ore next to the (found in st to taste in good Rum ry heavy ve s f e’ o sh ts Lo onna says (D h c at b ers a good leaded m and pref Ru e th n o handed Brandy) better than dark Rum, e side utmeg on th optional: N

– Claire Aiello


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OCT 2021 initiatives


Series by Deborah Storey


Understanding the Full Scope

Perspective on recruiting companies


usiness expansions in the Huntsville area are so common that they seem to appear organically, like overnight mushrooms. In 2020 alone, expansions of existing companies totaled more than a billion dollars. But the decision to expand a footprint can take months – even years – of behind-the-scenes work before the press releases roll out. Companies often ask the Huntsville/Madison County Chamber to help evaluate whether such a move makes sense. Lucia Cape is the Chamber’s Senior Vice President of Economic Development & Workforce. Part of her job is attracting companies that aren’t operating here, but another is helping current ones “make a case for a larger presence in Huntsville,” she said, “because there are more customers here, because we’ve got the workforce or a better cost of doing business.” The Chamber works with business leaders by evaluating the potential workforce or customer base, contributing to white paper studies or finding physical space to accommodate specific needs like high bays or proximity to Redstone Arsenal. Many issues can affect the timing of a corporate move or expansion, such as changes in leadership or a new program. “Some projects are super-fast,” Cape said. “We’ll get a call and six months later we’re doing an announcement for a company that’s never been here before.” Other projects take a little – or a lot – more time. “It’s not always what it looks like -- an overnight success,” she said. In the case of Aerojet Rocketdyne, it “was more than 10 years.” Industry expansions announced in Huntsville and Madison County in April through early August of 2021 totaled $91.6 million, Chamber statistics show. New investment for the same time frame topped $100 million. In 2020, expansion projects alone totaled $1.16 billion and added 875 jobs.

Know your customers In late 2014, BAE Systems began looking at fortifying Huntsville operations. Leaders examined what programs and offices operate here, how much money flows into Huntsville and other factors. A HUNTSVILLE/MADISON COUNTY CHAMBER PUBLICATION

Kyle Flynn, BAE Systems Senior International Business Development Director of Global Integrated Solutions, said the company had multiple customers at Redstone Arsenal but only one local business development person. Leadership asked for an in-depth look beyond “parachuting in and leaving the same day or next day,” he said.

Flynn teamed up with Peter Norton, Technical Director of Countermeasure and Electromagnetic Attack Solutions at BAE Systems, to spend time in Huntsville in 2015. The mission was to “try to understand the community and the culture and providing weekly updates to our leadership about what we were seeing and experiencing down there,” Flynn said. “Do we invest in Huntsville and put more presence there or not? “You really need to get to know your customers by being there more than just one night,” he said. The visit lasted 60 days. They explored intangibles like neighborhoods and housing (and breweries) but also what business opportunities might arise during and outside business hours, Flynn said. “On the weekend or the end of the day when you go to a restaurant

continued on page 14 OCT 2021 initiatives


and see customers you know, would they be welcoming to you to have a chat and talk over dinner or not? “That’s really what we went there to try to figure out.” Norton was pleased with the number of local activities available and “how welcoming the community was both from a business perspective as well as a local social community.” They fraternized with local families over grilling steaks and were pleased to hear about the affordability of the area. Both were impressed with the local school systems and the fact that many college graduates here tend to stay in town. “They take internships while they are in college and they would take that right through graduation and go right to work where they were interning,” Flynn said. He told others “You’ll never find a higher concentration of Ph.D.s and skilled people and people at the colonel or major level or both in one location.” Some BAE employees transferred to Huntsville but it “morphed into the hire-local model, which was more the ultimate goal,” said Flynn. The company has 120 current employees and job openings for more than 40. The new building in Cummings Research Park has space for 200 people, and room for expansion and “the goal is to get hundreds more,” said Norton.

‘Here to stay’ Moog, Inc., has had an office in Huntsville since 2007, but only two employees in an 1,100-square-foot space. The company expanded in August of 2020 and now employs seven in just under 11,000 square feet.


initiatives OCT 2021

An improving economy and more defense spending prompted the need for “a more visible and active resource center that was locally situated,” said Mary Occhipinti, Moog Huntsville Operations Site Manager. Moog designs and manufactures precision control components and systems. A month after the new office opened on Quality Circle near the U.S. Army Engineering and Support Center, Moog’s landlord asked if they wanted the adjacent space. “It took less than five days” to decide yes, said Occhipinti. Like most companies, Moog’s goal is simple: Keep good relationships with current business and add more. “We’ve embedded ourselves with a number of the location organizations and industry representatives,” said Occhipinti. “We’re starting to do things like sponsorships to let the community know that even though we’ve been here a while, we’re here to stay in a bigger way. I see continued growth happening over the next three years. “The feedback has been, ‘We’re so glad you opened this office. We like coming to your facility and having our meetings.’ ” Cape said, “The way that people are successful in Huntsville is to have a presence here. You can get a track record with your customers or suppliers. There’s a lot of benefit in incumbency. “Customers want their contractors to be nearby,” she added. Being in the same room “makes it easier and certainly less expensive than having to fly in from the West Coast to have project meetings.” – Deborah Storey



Tyce Hudson, Project Executive Turner Construction Company

Tell us about your business and team... At a national level, Turner is the largest general contractor in the country and a leader in all major market segments. We foster innovation, embrace emerging technologies, and make a difference for our clients, employees, and communities at every opportunity. Turner’s Huntsville office has been building throughout Alabama for more than 60 years, serving clients in the industries of aerospace, government, industrial, healthcare and commercial. We have an extremely successful history of working at prominent Huntsville businesses including Cummings Research Park and Redstone Arsenal. We even built the iconic Saturn V rocket replica at the U.S. Space and Rocket Center, and, more recently, the brand-new Toyota Field for the Rocket City Trash Pandas baseball team. The Huntsville team is truly a family in every sense of the word. We support each other, our clients, and our trade partners, staying true to the Turner values of service, quality, integrity, and personal attention. We greatly enjoy living and working in Huntsville, taking advantage of everything that this city has to offer, which makes supporting its growth even that much easier. We are also invested in our local community and are proud to have the opportunity to contribute in ways that go beyond the built environment.

Tell us about the challenges your company has encountered during the pandemic... As an essential business, the COVID-19 pandemic presented challenges that caused us to adapt quickly and safely, so that we could continue working while keeping our staff and trade partners healthy. Initial conversations consisted of what and how we needed to adjust both on the jobsites and within the office, as well as how to keep Turner’s culture alive while keeping people safely distanced. We had to get creative on jobsites for tasks that traditionally required multiple people to work in close proximity. To do that, we instituted multiple pieces of equipment for one task and required very specific and intentional personal protective equipment to complete the task safely. We also had challenges with communication and implemented a detailed and thorough process to take the necessary precautions while still keeping in touch with employees and measuring the morale across the company. A supplementary challenge was keeping staff engaged and responding when people felt burnt out. We fostered virtual activities, like trivia and happy hours, and sent care boxes to people’s homes to make sure we stayed connected. Despite the challenges, I feel that our company has only grown stronger in how we operate, communicate, and care for each other. A HUNTSVILLE/MADISON COUNTY CHAMBER PUBLICATION

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Top photos: Jemison High School students hear from representatives of Atrium Hospitality and Schwarze Industries. Bottom photo: Ardmore High School students listen to Kristen Morrell of Asahi Kasei Plastics. CREDIT: KANDICE HALL, THE ONIN GROUP

Successful Start

Local high schools implementing Ready-to-Work program


reparing students for career opportunities in our region remains critical to ensure employers have the talent needed in today’s competitive market. The High School Ready-to-Work program is tackling that challenge head-on.

The program is designed around two main focus areas: soft skills and industry focused training. Students begin the year focused on communication skills, problem solving, critical thinking, in addition to personal skills, like money management, to ensure they have the tools needed for long-term, stable employment and success. “The goal of the program is for students to have a clear path of their career before they graduate,” said Kandice Hall, Workforce Development Coordinator for the Ready-toWork Program. The High School Ready-to-Work program launched last year in north Alabama with programs in select Limestone County schools. This year, Limestone County has implemented


initiatives OCT 2021

the program district-wide. Seeing success from the efforts, Huntsville City Schools is offering the program at both Jemison and Lee high schools beginning this year. These two schools chose to implement this program because of the benefits that it provides. “Ready to Work is beneficial to students because it provides them with job opportunities and exposure, it prepares them for success in industry, and they can receive national and state level certifications that demonstrate career level readiness,” said Sabrina Oliver, counselor at Jemison High School, where 24 students are currently enrolled. A key differentiating component of High School Ready-to-Work is industry-led training and involvement. The program is designed as a workforce development collaborative that serves multiple industries. Employers provide instruction throughout the program to share insight about careers in their industries. Partnering companies represent advanced manufacturing, automotive, construction, logistics/distribution, healthcare, and hospitality. Students tour local operations in these target industries to deepen their knowledge and understanding of the career opportunities and pathways for them. During the second semester of the program, students participate in interviews with employer partners, often resulting in post-graduation job offers. Previous graduates have been hired directly into full-time positions with local companies, including Huntsville Hospital, Navistar, Vuteq, and Mazda Toyota Manufacturing. In addition to the education and training received, students who complete the program earn multiple certifications and receive one free course at an Alabama Community College. As our community continues to grow, the High School Readyto-Work Program is an important collaborative to build a long-term talent pipeline for local students and employers. To learn more about the program and to get involved, visit – Lyndsay Ferguson A HUNTSVILLE/MADISON COUNTY CHAMBER PUBLICATION


Exercise fads come and go. But what matters is staying healthy with the right insurance. With the largest network of providers in the state, we cover what matters.


Leidos donates $1M to Alabama School of Cyber Technology & Engineering

Over the last three years, Teledyne Brown Engineering has added 140,000 square feet of facilities to its campus in Cummings Research Park. Buildings on the campus now total more than 300,000 square feet.

On August 30, Leidos announced a $1 million donation toward the construction of the Alabama School of Cyber Technology and Engineering (ASCTE). Students are currently attending classes at Oakwood University while the school’s permanent campus is being built in Cummings Research Park.

ADTRAN, ADVA announce business combo agreement

“We’re proud to invest in Huntsville’s future and support the pioneering technology coming out of Alabama,” said Leidos Chairman and CEO Roger Krone. “This donation is our commitment to the future. It also addresses the ongoing need for a 21st century workforce of skilled science and engineering professionals. We’re excited to be part of this effort, providing students with the education and skills they need to thrive.” ASCTE is one of three public magnet high schools serving students throughout the state of Alabama. It is currently the only public high school in the nation to integrate cyber technology and engineering into all academic disciplines.

On August 30, ADTRAN and ADVA announced an agreement between the two companies to combine and create a leading global, scaled provider of end-to-end fiber networking solutions for communications service provider, enterprise and government customers. The merger combines ADTRAN’s global leadership in fiber access, fiber extension and subscriber connectivity solutions with ADVA’s global leadership in metro wavelength division multiplexing, data center interconnect, business ethernet and network synchronization solutions. “We are in the early stages of an unprecedented investment cycle in fiber connectivity, especially in the U.S. and Europe, fueled by the demand for last-mile fiber access and middle-mile transport to provide high-speed connectivity to homes, businesses and future 5G infrastructure,” said ADTRAN Chairman and CEO Thomas Stanton. The combined company will be named ADTRAN Holdings, Inc. Its global headquarters will be located in Huntsville, AL and its European headquarters will be in Munich, Germany.

Chamber leaders attend National Space Symposium in Colorado Springs Two of the Chamber’s senior managers attended the National Space Symposium in Colorado Springs, from August 23-26. Lucia Cape, senior VP of Economic Development & Workforce, and Mike Ward, senior VP of Government & Public Affairs, met with over 25 civil and commercial space-related companies who are currently located in Huntsville or considering expanding their business here.

Special Aerospace Services to expand to Huntsville Special Aerospace Services (SAS), a tactical engineering company, is expanding and opening a production facility in Cummings Research Park in Huntsville. The site is at 1101 Explorer Boulevard NW. The facility will be called “The Campus” and will expedite its strategic, tactical, manufacturing, logistics, and R&D activities. The project is a 55,000-square-foot federal services, research, and special activities branch. It will encompass an engineering and training space, high bay assembly, advanced manufacturing, and research bays. The eventual phased development of The Campus will encompass up to three major buildings and 50 high technology jobs.

Teledyne Brown opens new high-bay facility On September 8, Teledyne Brown Engineering cut a ribbon to celebrate the opening of the new Large Scale Assembly and Integration Facility. This new 40,000-square-foot high bay facility will support the company’s work to supply the defense, aerospace and energy sectors with hardware and systems to be used around the globe. A HUNTSVILLE/MADISON COUNTY CHAMBER PUBLICATION

Library launches local music streaming platform On August 31, the Huntsville-Madison County Public Library (HMCPL) launched a new local music streaming platform called Blast that features over 40 musicians from the Tennessee Valley. HMCPL is only the fourteenth library system in the country to offer this service, joining large music cities such as Austin, Nashville and Seattle. Blast is the Library’s living music collection that documents North Alabama’s vital, evolving music scene. Music lovers will be able stream sounds from a local community of diverse artists anytime, anywhere. “Blast is another avenue for HMCPL to connect with our community. By working in alignment with the Music Initiative of the City of Huntsville, we are not only showcasing the talents of our local musicians, but potentially introducing them to a national audience,” said Annie Phillips, HMCPL’s Digital Services Manager and Blast’s project manager. “Because you can stream Blast without a library card from any browser.” The Library plans to open up the platform for submissions twice a year, with its next one planned for early 2022. Visit for more details. OCT 2021 initiatives



The Rocket City is often ranked by notable news organizations and business publications. We track all of these on – there’s also a PDF version you can download and email as you recruit:

Huntsville #5 on Top 10 Places for Career Opportunities in the U.S. August 2021

Huntsville is one of the winners of the pandemic migration boom July 2021

Huntsville leads U.S. in 2021 Economic Recovery July 2021

Huntsville #4 Millennial Magnet, #6 for Tech Hubs (Growth Potential) July 2021

Huntsville #1 Best Affordable Place to Live in the U.S. in 2021-2022 Huntsville #3 Best Place to Live in the U.S. in 2021-2022 July 2021

Huntsville named one of Tech’s Most Resilient Hubs June 2021

Huntsville is among the Top 20 Best Cities to Start a Career May 2021

Huntsville on 2021 list of Best Places to Live May 2021


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Madison County

City of Huntsville

City of Madison

Huntsville Metro Area

community profile

2010 Census






2020 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 September 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

THANK YOU, Huntsville!




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Lunar Phase NASA prepares to launch the megarocket that will take us back to the Moon and then Mars By Mike Ward

Since 1972, no human has traveled more than 386 miles from the surface of the earth.

But that is about to change. The 238,900 mile-long journey to return humans to the Moon is about to resume in earnest. Getting people back to the Moon will require a rocket capable of lifting more mass into space than we have ever lifted before, and a capsule able to sustain life and protect the crew from the hazards of deep space exploration. Today, a rocket even more powerful than the Apollo stands in the same building where the Apollo rockets were assembled. The Artemis I rocket is scheduled to take flight later this year. At 322 feet tall, it stands about 40 feet shorter than the Saturn V rocket, but its engines will produce over 1 million pounds more thrust. It has taken more than 10 long years to get to this point. As administrations have changed and priorities and objectives have shifted, political battles and technical hurdles have delayed the development of the rocket. Ultimately, Congress has worked with NASA to shape the program into the system that we have today, that will take us back to the Moon. The Artemis rocket consists of the Space Launch System (SLS) core stage, essentially an elongated version of the space shuttle external tank, containing liquid oxygen and liquid hydrogen, mounted on top of four space shuttle RS 25 engines. Two solid rocket boosters, each 25 percent larger than the heritage space shuttle system boosters, will be bolted on the sides of the core stage. An upper stage, built in Decatur at the United Launch Alliance plant, will provide the thrust necessary to boost the Orion capsule from its 17,500 mph earth orbit, to the 25,000 mph required to escape Earth’s gravity well and propel it to the Moon.

The Orion capsule will accommodate a crew of four astronauts and provide the necessary life support systems and radiation shielding for the three-day journey through deep space. Once outside of the Earth’s protective magnetic bubble, its magnetosphere, astronauts would be exposed to nearly 99 percent more radiation than on Earth, without the shielding provided by the Orion capsule. The Orion crew module for the Artemis I mission has been fully assembled, tested, and integrated with the European service module. The service module, built by the European Space Agency (ESA), provides most of the propulsion, power, and cooling systems for the crew module where astronauts will live and work during Artemis missions. The Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville managed the SLS rocket components’ design and development and the bulk of the core stage fabrication occurred at the Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans. The solid rocket boosters were fabricated at the ATK/Orbital Science/Northop Grumman Ogden, Utah plant. Guidance and control systems for the rocket were developed and tested at MSFC. The SLS rocket is the only vehicle capable of delivering the Orion capsule to the Moon and the Orion capsule is the only human-rated vehicle capable of safely carrying astronauts to the Moon. The SLS Program supports approximately 13,000 jobs across Alabama, generating $2.4 billion in economic output, and more than $55 million in state and local taxes. This first mission, Artemis I, will send the uncrewed Orion capsule


continued on page 24

An illustrated view of the Block 1B crew configuration of NASA’s powerful Space Launch System (SLS) rocket the night before launch. The Block 1B crew configuration enables the SLS rocket to send heavy cargo and up to four astronauts aboard NASA’s Orion spacecraft to the Moon. A HUNTSVILLE/MADISON COUNTY CHAMBER PUBLICATION

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to the Moon on a four-to-six-week mission, venturing further into deep space than any human-rated vehicle has ever gone. Artemis I will travel 40,000 miles beyond the Moon. That mission will also carry 13 smaller “hitchhiker” 6U-sized CubeSats (about the size of two loaves of bread), which will be released once the capsule is well on its way to the Moon. Artemis II will send the first crew to the Moon, but only for a fly-by mission. All of the hardware for the Artemis II mission has been fabricated and the rocket is being assembled at the Michoud Assembly Facility. Artemis III will be the first mission to send a crew to land on the Moon in over 50 years. Most of the components of the Artemis III rocket have been fabricated, although assembly has not yet begun. NASA plans to build an orbiting “lunar gateway” where the Orion and lunar landing equipment can dock prior to descending to the lunar surface. Such a lunar base The U.S. Space & Rocket Center, the Huntsville/Madison County Chamber, and NASA-MSFC hosted a media briefing on Sept. 8 at the Rocket Center.

continued on page 26



initiatives OCT 2021


Where the Future Happens Now

the gateway to innovation

will allow NASA and our international partners to gain critical experience with long-term deep space living. While the ultimate goal of the Artemis program is to put people on Mars, the practical experience gained in the cis-lunar environment, just three days from Earth, will be essential prior to committing to the over one-year journey to Mars and back. Artemis is critical to long-term US international relationships and leadership in the peaceful exploration of space. The Chinese government has committed itself to a similar lunar mission and NASA Administrator, Senator Bill Nelson, has warned of a potential “Space Race” with China.

Huntsville: We Are the Rocket City!

ULA Targeting mid-October for Atlas V Lucy Mission NASA will soon launch its Lucy spacecraft on a United Launch Alliance (ULA) Atlas V rocket from Cape Canaveral, Florida. Lucy’s 21-day launch window opens on October 16, and there will be about a 1-hour opportunity to launch every morning during that period. Lucy will use solar power to go on a 12-year journey to study the Trojan asteroids. These asteroids orbit the Sun in two groups along Jupiter’s orbit path, and are the leftover building blocks of our solar system’s giant planets – Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune. The mission’s name comes from the fossilized human ancestor, called “Lucy” by her discoverers, whose skeleton provided unique insight into humanity’s evolution. Likewise, NASA says the Lucy mission will revolutionize our knowledge of planetary origins and the formation of the solar system. – Claire Aiello

A local team is planning a series of events to raise awareness of the upcoming missions and our community’s role in developing the rocket. The U.S. Space & Rocket Center, the Huntsville/Madison County Chamber, and NASA-MSFC hosted a media briefing on Sept. 8 at the Rocket Center, to share updates on Artemis and SLS with Huntsville-area news organizations. Speakers included Dr. Kimberly Robinson, the Rocket Center’s Executive Director; Huntsville Mayor Tommy Battle; Jody Singer, MSFC Director; John Honeycutt, SLS Program Manager; and David Beaman, Manager for SLS Systems Engineering & Integration. More local events are planned, starting this month. Add these to your calendar and come join us: ■ Friday Night “ARTemis” Walk on the Courthouse Square, October 8 ■ World Space Week at U.S. Space & Rocket Center, Celebrating Women in Space, October 4-10 ■ Spooky Space Spectacular at the U.S. Space & Rocket Center, October 30 ■ Artemis Day on the Square, November 6 – come to the courthouse square, dressed as an astronaut! Also, between now and January, breweries on the Downtown Huntsville Craft Beer Trail will serve craft beers with an Artemis theme. Participating breweries include Below the Radar Brewhouse, Chandlers Ford Brewing, Fractal Brewing, Green Bus Brewing, InnerSpace Brewing Company, Mad Malts Brewing, Rocket Republic Downtown, Salty Nut Brewery, Straight to Ale, and Yellowhammer Brewing.

Yellowhammer Brewing is one of the Huntsville breweries that will create an Artemis-themed beer this fall. The Huntsville/Madison County Convention & Visitors Bureau is updating a special calendar with other Artemis-themed events. Visit for additional celebrations. – Mike Ward, cce


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New Scientific Vistas

25 years of UAH R&D involvement will bloom with the unfurling of the JWST


fter its scheduled December 18 launch, when NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) unfurls the 18 gold-coated beryllium segments of its 6.5-meter primary mirror, 25 years of crucial University of Alabama in Huntsville (UAH) partnership in the project will also blossom. The technical challenges of the international JWST project allied UAH with NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, Marshall Space Flight Center (MSFC), Johnson Space Center (JSC) and private industry. The telescope will launch aboard a European Space Agency (ESA) Ariane 5 rocket from French Guiana and open vast new vistas to scientific exploration, viewing them via an “eye” that UAH’s Center for Applied Optics (CAO) has had critical partnership roles in conceiving, perfecting and testing. For CAO Principal Research Scientist and JWST long-hauler Dr. James Hadaway, it will be a watershed event. “I remember many times during my work on JWST when I would just stop and think to myself, ‘Wow, I’m working on the largest space telescope ever built, how cool is that?’” Dr. Hadaway said. “It is Above: The fully deployed James Webb Space Telescope being moved by crane inside a clean room at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center very exciting to be nearing in Maryland. Right: UAH’s Dr. James Hadaway and Dr. Patrick Reardon the launch, after which I near testing equipment that measures the surface shape of the will be able to see the fruimirrors in the chamber. Photos courtesy of NASA. tion of all that work.” “I did want to be a part of the optical testing of the telescope optics from the beginning through to the end,” he said. “I thought that if at least one person was there for the entire process, it would provide a valuable opportunity to use the experience gained along the way to help ensure a successful overall testing program.” For Dr. Patrick Reardon, currently the CAO director, who began in 1998 to support the design and testing work led by Dr. Hadaway, the coming launch marks a remarkable concentration of public and private research. “It is hard to believe that something I and so many others here at UAH and across the city have invested so much time and talent into is finally culminating with a launch. I started on this 23 years ago – the same time my daughter was born!” said Dr. Reardon. Designed to observe the most distant stars and galaxies ever viewed, JWST works by gathering their faint infrared energy with its large primary mirror. Dr. Hadaway was working on optical designs for a 20- to 30-meter A HUNTSVILLE/MADISON COUNTY CHAMBER PUBLICATION

diameter space telescope for MSFC’s Advanced Concepts group when JWST came along, planned at 6 to 8 meters. “NASA asked me to lead a team to develop an initial optical design.” After that, Dr. Hadaway was asked if UAH could develop and operate an optical measurement system to test mirror technologies for the primary mirror. JWST’s mission depends on a near-perfect mirror, and that meant lots of testing on Earth at temperatures approximating the extreme cold of space. He became the principal investigator of a CAO team that worked with MSFC’s X-Ray and Cryogenic Facility (XRCF) to test mirrors in their large vacuum chamber, which cooled them to the JWST space operating temperature of minus 378 degrees Fahrenheit. Dr. Reardon assisted in the design and development of the optics test system and performed tests on candidate mirror technologies. In addition, he supported a 24/7 testing cycle for the backplane that holds the mirror segments. One big challenge was aligning the mirrors to each other to within 150 nanometers, or 0.000006 inch, inside a test vacuum chamber at JSC without being able to actually touch them. The JWST work accelerated the growth of UAH’s CAO in optical systems modeling, optical fabrication, and testing, Dr. Reardon says. As well as the research yielded, the telescope supported at least five CAO student doctoral degrees and five master’s degrees. The project brought UAH – a university founded on America’s space quest – into close partnership with NASA, the ESA and the Canadian Space Agency. “JWST is a massive international collaboration,” said Dr. Hadaway. “The interactions with the dedicated people within all of these organizations were very rewarding for us, with many permanent relationships established.” – Jim Steele, UAH OCT 2021 initiatives


Booming at MidCity

More restaurants, retail, entertainment, and residential options coming soon


untsville is now the largest city in Alabama according to the most recent Census numbers, but with exponential population growth comes lots of business growth, too. Several property developments have undergone construction over the past few years, MidCity being one of them. MidCity, homed centrally at the center of the University Drive corridor, is estimated to exceed $1.15 billion over the next five years. That income will not only help the local economy, but will house an abundance of new jobs, residences, and customer clientele for the future growth of the Rocket City. The developmental property already is home to successful businesses such as Top Golf, Dave & Buster’s, and The Camp. But those businesses are only the beginning, as the district plans to add more trendy and innovative restaurants, plus apartments. Out of all the new business coming to MidCity, one company that attracted a lot of attention was Trader Joe’s grocery store (top photo). The newly-iconic venue is known for its quirky atmosphere and unique food items. Huntsville Mayor Tommy Battle announced the new business in October 2020. The venue’s location is towards the front of the development, across from the current location of The Camp. A Trader Joe’s representative said that once hiring is fully complete, roughly 90 percent of the working crew will be made up of local residents. As mentioned above, one of the first pieces of construction, The Camp, has seen a lot of success since it first opened in 2017, thanks to its popular outdoor setup. As the pandemic hit in early 2020 and stretched on, The Camp went almost unaffected. The outdoor location helped operations continue smoothly. A drive-in event with more than 400 socially-distanced guests and a Christmas “Miracle at MidCity” (large photo) helped drive more income and gave the business event ideas for the upcoming winter months. But the future of The Camp looks a little different, as the outdoor space has plans to relocate within the district. According to RCP Companies’ Business Development Manager Nadia Niakossary, The Camp will relocate to a more “centralized” location within the development in the next two years. With the addition of approximately 1,600 apartment units on the way, Niakossary said


initiatives OCT 2021


the new location will accommodate the incoming residents and open up the front of the district for another new business. Up the main road known as Mid City Drive, you’ll soon see a strip of restaurants looking for a band of new customers. Blue Oak BBQ is one of the newly announced vendors on this strip and will be a New Orleans-inspired restaurant, built with NOLA-style architecture (lower left illustration). The building design will be executed by a local architect group, Matheny Goldmon. But along with these new restaurants, such as Atlanta-based Salt Factory Pub, will come lots of new retail space. The area between Stax Street and the Huntsville Amphitheater is expected to be filled with retail/office space and residential lodging such as the Metronome (illustration below). A parking deck will also accompany this retail/ residential area and will have the first floor of parking open to the public. Speaking of the Huntsville Amphitheater, the plan is to open in May 2022 (see construction photo). Huntsville Venue Group says we should expect to hear some of the musical acts by early October. The Amphitheater will seat 8,000 people. – Kayla Carlile

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OCT 2021 initiatives



The month of October kicks off an important celebration for some of our community’s largest employers. October 1 is recognized as Manufacturing Day; however, we’re going to use the entire month to showcase individuals in our community that comprise the modern manufacturing workforce. Please look for them on the Chamber’s Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn platforms. Below are a few we’d like to highlight. Each has a unique story, pathway, and experience in the manufacturing industry.

Penny Cowan is a Lean Process Tech for Polaris. A Lean Process Tech is responsible

for making the operators’ jobs easier. She helps with time studies, station layouts and more, all with a goal to eliminate waste and make the processes “leaner.” Cowan has been with Polaris for 2.5 years. The Fayetteville, TN native first started at Polaris on the line as an assembly operator. She worked that position for six months, before being promoted to a group lead position with Lean, and was promoted to her current role about a year ago. Cowan excels at work and at home. She and her husband have two sons, and she has never missed a day of work during her career with Polaris.

Reggie Stevenson is a Senior CNC Machine Operator for Dormakaba.

Stevenson has set up, programmed, and operated CNC machinery for over 23 years. The CNC machinery he operates is responsible for automatically manipulating metal. Day-to-day, Stevenson is in charge of making decisions on quality and operation sequences, as well as maneuvering through complex and custom tasks and assignments. He spent two years at J.F. Drake State Community and Technical College studying Accounting before making his way to Dormakaba. Stevenson said his work ethic isn’t too difficult to manage, in fact, he said root beer floats will get him to do just about anything.

Kristy S. is a Composite Technician 2 for Aerojet Rocketdyne AMF.

Jeremy Johnson is an Electrical/Mechanical Technician for Dynetics Technical

Solutions. Johnson assisted in the build of the all new, state-of-the-art hypersonic glide body assembly line, the first of its kind in the United States. He is currently working on building highly technical common hypersonic glide bodies from the ground up. Prior to his time with Dynetics, Johnson served in the United States Air Force. He spent 10 years working on the C-17A out of Dover AFB, DE. He did everything from transporting troops, moving vital mission essential cargo, sending lifesaving goods to people in need, and participated in bringing our heroes back home to rest. He even assisted in Presidential Support for both President Trump and President Obama, as well as helping move former Vice Presidents Michael Pence and Joe Biden. 30

initiatives OCT 2021

She works on the production of missile defense products that help protect our military service members. Kristy’s professional background comes from other areas, though. For eight years she spent time in the management field, and later spent three years in automotive manufacturing. She said she hopes to continue furthering her career with Aerojet Rocketdyne, and aspires to land a management role in the future. Kristy is a mother of four boys ranging from ages 18 to 22, and has lived in Alabama for 11 years. A HUNTSVILLE/MADISON COUNTY CHAMBER PUBLICATION

Proud to support the Arts as a Sustaining Donor of the Huntsville Symphony Orchestra.

©2021 First Horizon Bank. Member FDIC.

Shark-Tank Showdown

Calhoun teams up with CAP & GOWN Project to kick off FlexFactor Competition


fter a year of virtual classes for many, Calhoun’s Huntsville-Cummings Research Park Campus was filled with motivated high school students who were eager to attend The CAP & GOWN Project STEM Summer Institute. Rising freshmen, sophomores, juniors, and seniors woke up early to begin their day with ACT preparation and ended the day with FlexFlactor. FlexFactor is a project-based learning program supported by NextFlex, Boeing, and The Alabama Community College System, where students engage with advanced technologies, entrepreneurship, and education on career pathways. Emily Heller, CAP & GOWN Project executive director, alongside Ashley Alfaro, Calhoun FlexFactor program coordinator, collaborated to create a two-week summer project for students that provided both positive and productive experiences. Students worked in teams of three to five to create innovative solutions that would solve a real-world problem identified by their group. All teams partnered with NextFlex and included a Flexible Hybrid Electronic as part of their hardware device and product solution. Throughout the two-week program, students were able to learn more about advanced manufacturing and take a tour of Bruderer

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initiatives OCT 2021

Machinery. During the industry tour, students received expert coaching from professionals at Bruderer, and they had an opportunity to hear first-hand from Operations Manager René Zwahlen, as well as the rest of the Bruderer team. Team members provided details of their day-to-day operations in advanced manufacturing and helped the students with their product ideas. The FlexFactor project wrapped up the program with a Shark Tankstyle competition. Student teams pitched their innovative solution projects to an impressive panel of judges, which included Zwahlen (Bruderer), Lydia Pennington (formerly of the Huntsville/Madison County Chamber), Larry Lewis (PROJECTXYZ), Terry Abel (Lockheed Martin & National Space Club), Emily Heller (CAP & GOWN Project), and Dr. Patricia Wilson (Calhoun). The judges listened to the students pitch their product ideas and chose one winning team. It was competitive, and the students presented their creative ideas both professionally and confidently. Following the competition, the judges took time to share business insights and provided great advice to assist the students as they consider various STEM opportunities. It was impressive to witness what students can accomplish in just a few weeks. According to the surveys filled out by the students following the summer experience, 100 percent stated they are planning to attend college after high school, 70 percent are considering STEM careers, and 80 percent said they feel more confident with their problem-solving skills. Without a doubt, it was a great experience with wonderful students who were eager to solve real problems with innovative solutions. – Submitted by Ashley Alfaro A HUNTSVILLE/MADISON COUNTY CHAMBER PUBLICATION

Additional Degree

Alabama A&M University adds MPA Program for Spring semester


labama A&M University (AAMU) is gearing up for a new program that will help further launch their involvement in the community. The new Master of Public Administration (MPA) program is set to begin in the Spring of 2022 and has plans to innovate and follow industry-driven standards in the curriculum. The 36 credit-hour program will be made up of 12 “core” hours to be delivered in a face-to-face and/or hybrid format and six capstone/independent study hours. The additional 18 hours will be focused on one of four concentrations: Criminal Justice Administration, Emergency Management, Homeland Security Administration, and Organizational Development and Governance; all of which will be exclusively taught online. The capstone credits will involve real-life experience, and offer pertinent situational teachings. Students will be able to choose between the capstone credit or the traditional independent study when signing up for the program. Students of the program will be evaluated through various methods such as papers,

exams, portfolios, and a final capstone project culminating in a final research paper. Dr. Michael Orok helped in the process of creating the new innovative program. He said the number of credit hours was determined by a few factors, one of those being mid-professional employees finding time to further their education. The university hopes to be a helping hand for persons in the community and local company professionals seeking a graduate degree with specialized training. AAMU will also create an advisory board for the MPA program, with the intent of matching graduates of the program with companies and public organizations partnered through the university. The university is currently looking for organizations and companies interested in this collaboration. The expected initial enrollment will be 22 students, with administrative oversight. If you are interested in partnering with the university, or enrolling in the program contact the Graduate School at Alabama A&M University at 256-372-7115 or email Dr. Orok: – Kayla Carlile

Innovation Investments

Drake State receives nearly $1.2M from NASA for STEM workforce development, outreach


rake State Community & Technical College is one of six colleges and universities to win NASA’s Inclusion Across the Nation of Communities of Learners of Underrepresented Discoverers in Engineering and Science (INCLUDES) award. INCLUDES awards are made possible through NASA’s Minority University Research and Education Project (MUREP) and provide up to $1.2 million for a three-year period. Drake State’s winning proposal builds on the work currently being done by the college’s Frontiers Research Program, which was established in 2020 to support research in additive manufacturing and 3D printing for NASA’s Moon to Mars Planetary Autonomous Construction Technology Project (MMPACT). “With the significant funding provided by the INCLUDES award Drake State will be able to rapidly grow our research program, the related curriculum development and STEM outreach to middle and high school students,” said Drake State President Dr. Patricia Sims. “It’s rewarding that our focus on meeting workforce needs in aerospace and advanced manufacturing is recognized and valued by NASA.” In addition to supporting NASA’s MMPACT project, the work being done by Drake State’s Frontiers Research team is expected to lead to innovation and curriculum development that will benefit construction and advanced manufacturing industries in North Alabama and beyond. The Frontiers team consists of faculty and A HUNTSVILLE/MADISON COUNTY CHAMBER PUBLICATION

Drake State’s Frontiers team recently visited NASA’s Johnson Space Center. Joseph Green is a Frontiers student intern. student interns from the college’s Engineering Design program. The Frontiers team visited NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston for a recent training trip. “The Frontiers program and other partnerships with local and regional industries create unique and rewarding opportunities for our students,” said Sims. “We’re grateful that our industry partners like NASA and Jacobs as well as our local and state leaders understand the importance of investing in our college and our students.” OCT 2021 initiatives


The month of October is National Disability Employment Awareness Month. This national campaign is intended to raise awareness about disability employment issues and celebrates the many and varied contributions of America’s workers with disabilities.

Finding the Right Fit

Gain job candidates through the Pre-Hire Work Experience program


onnecting the right talent with the right job is critical for employers, especially in the current employment landscape. However, companies are often unaware how to appropriately assess and provide reasonable accommodations to individuals with disabilities. The Alabama Department of Rehabilitation Services (ADRS) has several programs and initiatives that focus on helping individuals with disabilities find gainful employment. One of the most unique and impactful workforce development initiatives ADRS provides is the Pre-Hire Work Experience program. Pre-Hire Work Experience is a time-limited, job site opportunity in which a business provides an individual with a disability the chance to “try out” a job in order to improve awareness of the world of work, enhance knowledge, skills and abilities, and prepare for a long-term career. The individual works 20-40 hours per week at the sponsoring company for a total of 480 hours or three months, whichever comes first. Individuals are compensated through ADRS during the experience, allowing companies to


initiatives OCT 2021


evaluate and train the candidate prior to hire, at no cost to the employer. While there is no requirement or obligation to hire the candidate upon completion of the experience, the hope is that a long-term employment relationship results. “This program has afforded many individuals with disabilities the opportunity to be hired within great companies,” says Cassie Shropshire, business relations consultant for the Huntsville ADRS office. “It has allowed those same companies to fill their job vacancies with excellent workers. Finally, it has created a great working relationship with the company and ADRS, so whenever the company has any disability-related needs, whether it’s assistance with recruiting, hiring, or training, they will reach out to us for help.” Buffalo Rock has partnered with ADRS and the Pre-Hire Work Experience through its Huntsville and Tuscumbia locations for warehouse support and money room settlement clerk positions. Kim Keller, regional employee experience leader for Buffalo Rock, was surprised by how easy it was to get started helping individuals with disabilities gain independence and self-sufficiency through the program. “It is very rewarding and also a way to help with our labor pool!” said Keller. For employers to participate in the program, they work directly


with an ADRS representative, like Shropshire, to identify available jobs, survey work areas to determine ADRS applicants that would be a good fit, and interview candidates. ADRS partners with employers throughout the program by providing training and support to ensure company and applicant success. Annette Statum, senior director of Human Resources for Nextek, Inc. was impressed by the support and training provided to assist the candidate and the employer during their training period. Nextek has sponsored seven individuals through the Pre-Hire Work Experience and hired six of those individuals into full-time material handling and manufacturing positions with the company. Statum often recommends the program to other HR professionals in the region. “The ADRS Pre-Hire program can definitely assist local employers that are experiencing difficulties in staffing by providing capable and dedicated applicants who are eager to work,” she shared. Both Keller and Shropshire describe the program as a win-win for both employers and the individuals with disabilities who participate. For additional information, email – Lyndsay Ferguson

OCT 2021 initiatives


Hiring Our Heroes Update

Huntsville companies host corporate fellows as they transition from military


mployers know what veterans bring to the table. They are dedicated, have great work ethic, and know what it takes to get the job done. They also bring leadership skills and understand the value of teamwork. The Huntsville/Madison County Chamber is actively working to recruit more veterans to Huntsville. One of the ways we’re doing this is through a partnership with Hiring Our Heroes, a program of the U.S. Chamber Foundation that places servicemen and women as corporate fellows in companies while they are transitioning out of the military. During the 12-week Fellowship, their salary, health care, and other benefits are still covered by the Department of Defense. While a full-time offer of employment is not guaranteed or required upon completion of the Fellowship, the hope is that these veterans and companies find a great fit that results in a permanent hire. Hiring Our Heroes has several fellows in the current cohort, placed in about eight companies around Huntsville. We’d like to introduce you to a few of them.

Addonis Hawkins is working at Raytheon Missiles and Defense, supporting logistics operations at the Raytheon test facility on Redstone Arsenal. He entered the Army nearly 30 years ago and his military service included several combat and operational tours in Kuwait and one combat tour in Iraq. He has held a number of leadership positions including squad leader, section sergeant, platoon sergeant, DAO stock control and accounting NCOIC, Accountable Officer and Ammunition Manager.

Hawkins knew of Huntsville from a few visits to Redstone Arsenal during his service for courses and training. “Throughout my career, I knew Huntsville was my number one retirement location,” he said. Hawkins added that people in Huntsville are friendly and traffic isn’t too bad.


initiatives OCT 2021

Amanda Goodwin has served in the Army for 20 years, after starting in the Army Reserves in June 1999. She is originally from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

Goodwin earned her bachelor’s degree in Business Administration/Logistics Management, and is pursuing her graduate degree in Project Management. Goodwin said she heard about Hiring Our Heroes during water cooler sessions and has found the program and program managers to be helpful through the process. She was accepted by four different host companies, but gave it serious thought and decided to work with Jacobs. “I wanted to continue to assist my brothers and sisters in the military and I feel Jacobs can help me accomplish this goal. This has been an amazing opportunity and the veteran community within Jacobs is nothing but exceptional,” Goodwin added. Goodwin and her family live about 40 minutes south of Huntsville. “We found our piece of heaven in Cullman. The people are amazing, and I haven’t met a stranger yet,” she said. “We have five Nigerian Dwarf goats and people stop by all the time to see them and say hello, and to bring us vegetables from their garden. It’s just an amazing community. I wouldn’t change a thing here!”

Tim Foote served in the U.S. Navy for more than 20 years as a Chief Hospital Corpsman, providing care to the sick and injured. He deployed four times during his career to multiple combat areas. “The military provided me with the opportunity to obtain an education while also learning about leadership each and every day,” said Foote. “Both of these items are going to be helpful in any post-military career field. While in the military you get to work with so many different people from so many different places in the world, you really get to learn how to adapt to any situation.” A HUNTSVILLE/MADISON COUNTY CHAMBER PUBLICATION

Planning a Holiday Party? Hire a Member to jazz up your event Foote said he didn’t know much about Huntsville until he and his wife visited here about a year ago. “We fell in love with the city. There is so much to do and so many opportunities for transitioning service members in Huntsville that we decided to call Huntsville our forever home,” Foote added. Foote is working with United Launch Alliance in the program management office. He said he is excited to start with the company and is thankful for the opportunity to help others in the future, like so many have helped him during the process of transitioning from the military.

Brian Allison is doing his fellowship with Alion Science and Technology. He served as an Army Signal Corps Officer for the entirety of his 21-year career, which took him all around the United States, including Hawaii.


t’s October, and the holidays are right around the corner. You’ve likely marked the date for the company Christmas party on the calendar. On that note, we hope to have our Chamber Holiday Open House on Thursday, Dec. 9, if COVID rates decrease. We have many Chamber members who can help with a number of needs for your events. These include: ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■

Caterers Events Services Florists Food/Drink Photography Audio/Visual Support Musicians

Use our membership directory on our website and book now! Visit to search a number of categories. Book today –

these small businesses would love your support – and you know how quickly calendars fill up this time of year. – Claire Aiello

Our mission is growing people while solving the Nation’s toughest problems. • Aviation & Missile Weapon System Engineering • Software & Security Engineering Allison said he was interested in Hiring Our Heroes due to hearing about positive experiences others have had, including two of his Army comrades. He has visited Huntsville three times in the past few years, and his wife has family here. “I have enjoyed it the few times I have been there. My last duty station in the Army has been the northern Virginia/Washington D.C. area and that’s not where I have wanted to retire,” Allison said. “Huntsville is closer to much of my family who live on the Gulf Coast.” The Chamber thanks Raytheon Missiles & Defense, YKTA, and Northrop Grumman for their financial support of Hiring Our Heroes in Huntsville. We hope to continue to grow this program as part of our effort to bring in more veterans and help our local companies with hiring needs. The next cohort for Hiring Our Heroes will match service members with companies beginning in November, with the cohort kicking off in January 2022. To hire a Fellow or learn more about the program, contact the Huntsville Program Manager, Preston Webb via email:

• Hypersonic Ground & Flight Test Infrastructure Modernization • Cyber Resiliency Solutions & Innovative IT/IA Solutions • Electronic Warfare & Countermeasure System Assessment • Full Lifecycle C5ISR Solutions • Product Engineering for U.S. Foreign Military Sales • Weapon System Simulator and Emulator Development • Interactive Multimedia Instruction • Augmented & Virtual Reality Solutions



OCT 2021 initiatives


corporate vaccination events CLAIRE AIELLO

Thanks to companies who have held vaccine events – and thank you to our healthcare workers who make this possible! Huntsville Hospital will offer COVID-19 vaccinations at your jobsite, and will bring first and second doses of the Pfizer vaccine. There is a 25-person minimum, and you can include spouses and family members ages 12 and up. There is no onsite fee. They have recently visited Alabama Lawn Masters, the U.S. Space & Rocket Center, BASF, Sanmina & SCI Technology, AC Hotel, Parkway Place Mall, the Von Braun Center, Huntsville Utilities, McDonald’s, and other locations. Here’s a fun note: the Huntsville Hospital team will bring the supply of vaccines in a Igloo cooler. If they visit your company, you get to add a sticker to it! Please email to schedule this for your company.


OCT 2021 initiatives


Making the Team

Local Olympians represent north Alabama in Tokyo


he year 2020 marked several setbacks all across the world, thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic. One of those setbacks included the long-awaited Summer Olympics which were set to take place in Tokyo, Japan last summer. That “setback” turned out to be a blessing for a few local athletes though, as three athletes from our area were chosen to represent Team USA. Hartselle’s Quanesha Burks qualified for the Women’s long jump, Huntsville’s JuVaughn Harrison qualified for Men’s high jump and long jump, and Madison’s Zach Harting qualified in the Men’s 200-meter Butterfly. Burks started her athletic career in Hartselle, and later took her talents to the University of Alabama where she was an all-American


Huntsville’s JuVaughn Harrison competes in the preliminary round of the men’s high jump at the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo.


initiatives OCT 2021

Hartselle’s Quanesha Burks entered the trials with a personal best of 6.93 meters. She entered the competition with the Olympic standard but only secured it in her final competition before the trials. CREDIT: TWITTER.COM/STRONGBELIEVERQ

Madison’s Zach Harting earned a U.S. Swim team spot after recording a time of 1:55.06 in the 200-meter Butterfly at the U.S. Olympic Trials. CREDIT: FINIS SWIM GEAR

long jumper and 2015 NCAA outdoor and 2016 NCAA indoor Champion. In Tokyo, she finished fifth in her flight, jumping 6.56 meters, or a little over 21.5 feet. Her efforts did not get her into the event finals, but she was sure to make north Alabama proud with her story. You can read more about Burks’ journey to the Olympics on ESPN’s website. Another local Olympian who competed in Tokyo was Columbia High School graduate JuVaughn Harrison. Harrison had high expectations for the big event after claiming the top spot in both the high jump and the long jump at the U.S. Olympic Trials, making him the first American to compete in both events since 1912. The 22-yearold LSU all-American ranked 2nd in his flight in the Men’s High Jump, clearing 2.28 meters, or just shy of 7.5 feet. During the finals he cleared over 7’6” to claim the seventh place spot, in one of the fiercest competitions in Olympic history. In long jump, he finished the finals in fifth place jumping over 26’7”. Madison native and Bob Jones alum Zach Harting was north Alabama’s final Olympic representative. Harting earned an Olympic spot on the U.S. Swim team after recording a time of 1:55.06 in the 200-meter Butterfly at the U.S. Olympic Trials. The University of Louisville graduate placed second in his Olympic qualifying heat with a time of 1:54.92, but that time put him just short of making the finals. All three local Olympic athletes did an incredible job representing not only the United States, but also north Alabama. We are so proud of each individual who earned their spot and we look forward to seeing what they accomplish in the future. – Kayla Carlile A HUNTSVILLE/MADISON COUNTY CHAMBER PUBLICATION

Paralympics Update

Huntsville/CRP connection turned to cheers for para-athletes


Oksana Masters won her second gold medal of the Tokyo Paralympics, bringing her career total to four golds and 10 medals overall in both summer and winter Paralympic sports.

ack in April, Cummings Research Park did something Huntsville has never done before. The U.S. Paralympic Cycling Open chose the Rocket City to host its first competition back after a long hiatus due to COVID-19. That competition hosted some of the World’s top para-cyclists, who were later chosen to represent Team USA in Tokyo at the Summer Paralympic Games. The Paralympic Games began with the Opening Ceremony on August 25, and were followed up with Track Cycling. Among some of the athletes were Shawn Morelli, Clara Brown, and Jamie Whitmore; all of whom competed in Huntsville in April. After qualifying for the Women’s C4 3,000 meter Individual Pursuit Final, Morelli put on a great outing earning herself a silver medal. Clara Brown came up just shy of a medal, finishing in fourth place in the Women’s C1 3,000 meter Individual Pursuit. August 30 was a monumental day as Road Cycling began. Morelli struck again with another medal in the C4 road race. Her time landed her the top spot and a gold medal for Team USA. Following her performance that day was Aaron Keith who landed on the podium with a time of 24:55.40 in the Men’s time trail C1, earning him a silver medal. Rounding out the list of notable wins this year was veteran competitor, Oksana Masters. Masters is known for her previous eight Paralympic medals in skiing and rowing, but this year she added two golds in cycling. She earned these in the Road Time Trial H4-5 and the Road Race H5. – Kayla Carlile


OCT 2021 initiatives




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

Economic Development & Workforce 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

Finance & Administration Mary McNairy, vice president Joe Watson, facilities supervisor Kim Weeks, accounting specialist – receivables Meghan Nazario, business administration specialist

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

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

Marketing & Communications Claire Aiello, vice president Hiroko Sedensky, web designer Kristi Sherrard, graphic designer Kayla Carlile, communications & social media specialist

Membership Kristy Drake, vice president, investor relations Tina Blankenship, account executive Richard Bigoney, account executive Jamie Russell, investor relations support & program specialist Crystal Baker, retention specialist

Small Business & Events Amberly Kimbrough, events specialist



initiatives OCT 2021



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Profile for Huntsville/Madison County Chamber

Initiatives - October 2021  

Cover Story: Lunar Phase NASA prepares to launch the megarocket that will take us back to the Moon and then Mars

Initiatives - October 2021  

Cover Story: Lunar Phase NASA prepares to launch the megarocket that will take us back to the Moon and then Mars

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