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The Chamber of Commerce of Huntsville/Madison County is grateful to the members of the Madison County Legislative Delegation, Governor Bentley and the other leaders in State Government for their continued support of this region. A healthy partnership with the State is critical to our region’s continued success. Your support of the items listed below will help ensure the continued growth of North Alabama and the Tennessee Valley region. Enhance Alabama’s Economic Development Incentives The Alabama Legislature made great strides in the last few years to update the State’s economic development incentives. We would encourage the legislature to enact the following economic development incentive modifications, to further enhance our State and regional economic development efforts: u

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Provide research and development tax credits for work done in Alabama. Thirty-six states, including all those surrounding Alabama with an income tax, have such a credit. Allow a waiver of the three-year ad valorem tax lookback requirement for incentivized economic development projects. Provide additional incentives for Alabama companies utilizing Alabama’s Water and/or Air Ports

Support Workforce Development The most critical factor in economic development is the availability of a skilled and educated workforce. From PK-12 through post-secondary completion, rigorous academic standards combined with education and training programs that result in nationally recognized industry credentials are critical to our continued success. The needs of our workforce require partnerships between industry, community and education partners. Initiatives like K-12 Career Coaches, Career Assessments and Regional Workforce Councils are important components to foster these partnerships that support our overall economic and workforce development strategy.

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The Chamber strongly supports the Alabama College and Career Ready Standards and Next Generation Science Standards. The Chamber supports the direction of Plan 2020, with an emphasis on clear, high goals that are both realistic and challenging for students, and the goal of the Plan to ensure all Alabama students are college and/or career ready. The Chamber encourages any changes to these standards be for the sole purpose of increasing and not decreasing the rigor of Alabama’s PreK-12 education. With the adoption of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), the Chamber encourages the State Board of Education to develop an accountability plan with indicators that can provide valid and reliable measurements of college and career readiness for all students.

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The Chamber supports efforts that give school districts the flexibility and autonomy needed to meet the needs of their unique local student populations. We encourage legislation that provides special provisions for school systems under desegregation orders that are attempting to gain unitary status so that newly authorized charter school efforts cannot derail efforts to regain local control. The Chamber encourages the legislature to work to protect current funding levels for public education and to identify additional revenue to enable our education system to fully implement Alabama Math, Science and Technology Initiative (AMSTI) and Advanced Placement (AP) Classes. Academic rigor and industry recognized credentials are critical to a strong talent pipeline. Therefore, the Chamber supports Alabama State Department of Education’s (ALSDE’s) request for $1.4M of industry credentialing funds. The Chamber supports fully funding the Alabama Foundation Program and opposes any actions that would diminish or reduce funding levels for public education in our state. Research show that children that attend high quality Pre-K are more likely to enter kindergarten ready to learn, read at grade level by third grade, graduate from high school, enter college, and have higher earnings. The Chamber encourages state lawmakers to increase state investments in Pre-K Programs so that all families that choose to enroll their children can do so. The Chamber supports measures which increase the attractiveness of the teaching career and maintain its competitiveness among high quality candidates, including a pay raise. Additionally, the Chamber supports creative solutions to address teaching sector needs such as signing bonuses for hard-to-fill positions and the continuing to seek opportunities to engage “adjunct teachers” who can bolster the regular profession with their subject matter expertise, especially in advance STEM areas.

Post-Secondary Dual enrollment continues to increase in popularity and is an effective program to prepare students for college and careers. The Chamber supports increased appropriations for dual credit so that all students with the interest and qualifications to participate in dual enrollment have the opportunity to do so beginning in 11th grade. To be able to provide quality postsecondary education training at our


community colleges, the Chamber supports increased funding for Alabama Community College faculty and staff, particularly those that serve in high demand technical and/or STEM related fields.

Alabama has an opportunity to capitalize on our unique U.S. Space and Rocket Center Space Camp model and local cyber security capabilities to create a Cyber Camp to help promote and fill the cyber-workforce needs of the future.

The Chamber supports initiatives to better prepare our workforce, including continued investment in Alabama Industrial Development Training (AIDT) and a $300,000 increase in their budget. The Chamber also supports the Alabama Workforce Council’s request for additional funding for the seven regional workforce councils.

In the summer of 2016, with only volunteer support, Cyber Huntsville supported the Huntsville City School’s effort to conduct our first Cyber Camp, focused on the practical application of Cyber Security at the Mission Systems level. Building on the success of that initial effort, Cyber Huntsville will invest in the creation of a pilot Cyber Camp available to regional high school students in the summer of 2017. Cyber Huntsville’s pilot camp with be taught by educators, as well as government and industry cyber experts who work on the front lines to combat such attacks. With support from the State, this initial Cyber Camp effort can be matured and expanded to make it available to all Alabama, regional and national students in a yeararound camp with national recognition (i.e. U.S. Cyber Camp). The Camp will promote a much needed diversity in cyber students, who through hands-on application of cyber skills will join those already interested in or pursuing cyber career opportunities in industry or government. Additional resources (funding, personnel, equipment, facilities, etc.) beyond the initial investment are required to fully execute the program, and leverage lessons learned to develop and promote a nationally available program.

Invest in Higher Education Huntsville and Madison County’s workforce is a critical national asset, and the success of our knowledge-based economy is highly dependent on advanced workforce development. Nearly 70 percent of the U.S. Army workforce on Redstone Arsenal have fouryear or advanced degrees. More than 90 percent of the workers at Marshall Space Flight Center and the companies in Cummings Research have fouryear or advanced degrees. Research universities are crucial to the success of the Huntsville-Madison County community. The quality of the workforce at Redstone Arsenal, Cummings Research Park and the region’s economy is inextricably tied to The University of Alabama in Huntsville and Alabama A&M University.

Increase support for UAH UAH plays a critical role in supporting the educational and research requirements of Redstone Arsenal’s federal missions as well as the corporate presence in Cummings Research Park, the second largest university-related Research Park in the nation. The important national and international role for Redstone Arsenal demands that the state of Alabama provides strong financial support to UAH to further enhance its programs and faculty to increase its national standing to an even higher level and enable more selective enrollment. UAH requests the state of Alabama’s support to build and enhance the IT infrastructure on the campus to further develop the university’s IT and cybersecurity capabilities. Huntsville is one of the top targets in the nation for cybersecurity attacks, according to the Defense Security Service. Improved big data and IT infrastructure improvements would provide much needed support of UAH, the U.S. Army, Marshall Space Flight Center and Cummings Research Park for this emerging worldwide threat. Enhanced support for Alabama A&M University Alabama A&M University ranks in the top 20 on U.S. News and World Report’s list of Historically Black Colleges and Universities and is one of only two public universities to make the list. Additional State support to help A&M deliver strong Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) curriculum and support for expanding programs and facilities at Alabama A&M University is greatly needed. Expanding STEM programs and facilities at Alabama A&M University will help produce the workforce our community requires.

Cyber Camp Pilot Program Demand for cybersecurity workers is far outstripping the available workforce.

The Chamber requests State funding to leverage Cyber Huntsville’s investment in the Cyber Camp to develop a permanent camp in collaboration with the Space and Rocket Center, academia and industry.

Improve Local Infrastructure Our community has recently made tremendous progress funding infrastructure projects utilizing partnerships with the State, specifically, the 2014 agreement with the State of Alabama and the City of Huntsville to match funding to initiate $250 million road construction projects and the ATRIP road projects announced by Governor Bentley. The prospect of future rounds of Base Realignment and Closure make infrastructure improvements a top priority for the region. Robust transportation networks that can efficiently move commuters, freight, and services are vital for continued growth of the Tennessee Valley, inclusive of Redstone Arsenal. The Chairman of the Madison County Commission and the Mayors of Huntsville and Madison and Redstone Arsenal leadership have jointly endorsed the following key projects as the top road priorities for the region: u

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I-565 to I-65: Add additional lanes along I-565 from SR 255 to I-65 to ease traffic congestion from increased passenger and cargo traffic moving along this important economic corridor. I-565/Research Park Boulevard Interchange Modification at Gate 9: Funding these needed interchange modifications to support exponential growth in traffic at Redstone Arsenal and the adjacent Redstone Gateway development. I-565 and Madison Boulevard (Exit 13) Interchange Modification for Resolute Way access at Redstone Arsenal: Improvements through the commercial corridor to address major traffic issues on a route critical to Redstone Arsenal and Research Park commuters. Research Park Boulevard from I-565 to North of US 72: Provide funding to begin the design and construction of additional lanes to

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State Road 255 to support the recent exponential growth in traffic at Redstone Arsenal and Cummings Research Park. u

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Arsenal Eastern Connector: Provide support and funding for implementing a final Corridor Study and Preliminary Engineering. US 72 East/ARC Corridor V from Shields Road eastward to the county line: Funding be allocated and appropriated through any remaining ARC dedicated monies and any eligible MAP-21 funds as soon as possible to improve this much needed corridor. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd/Northern Bypass: Interchange at Memorial Parkway and extending the Northern Bypass from U.S. 231 to U.S. 72. Request support and funding for this project to provide more capacity and accessibility as a result of regional workforce traffic demand. Memorial Parkway at Mastin Lake Road: This project completes the next phase of non-stop traffic along US 231. Completing this project will allow non-stop traffic flow from Mastin Lake Drive in north Huntsville to Weatherly Road in south Huntsville. US Highway 72 West from Providence Main to County Line Road: This project improves overall traffic flow and provides critical capacity and safety improvements along this urban principal east-west arterial with average daily traffic volumes ranging from 32,000 to 45,000 vehicles per day.

Biosciences As a priority in Accelerate Alabama, the state’s economic development strategic plan, Alabama continues to increase its global presence in the biosciences. Through research, job creation and recruitment as well as workforce development, the Huntsville/Madison County region is adding value to the state as a leader in this industry. HudsonAlpha Institute for Biotechnology, the companies that reside on the Cummings Research Park Biotech campus, the companies that are in the greater Huntsville area, and the colleges and universities in North Alabama, are important components of this growing innovation economy. State funding has allowed for the innovation of technologies, diagnostics and medical treatments, which in turn lead to better quality of life. The impact is demonstrated in better human health but also through numerous improvements in agriculture. Beyond the demonstrable benefit to wellbeing, there is tremendous direct economic impact of state funding for biosciences in non-profit research and the growing community of biotechnology and pharmaceutical based companies leveraging that research in the area. HudsonAlpha and its expanding bioscience hub of companies are generating discoveries and applying the results in therapeutics, medical devices and equipment, scientific services and life science product development. Additionally, HudsonAlpha’s education and workforce development programs are growing the next generation of scientists along with creating a genomics-literate society poised to successfully fill the roles of a bioscience rich job force. The chamber strongly supports targeted funding for bioscience innovation at Alabama’s colleges, universities and research institutes. The chamber also champions increased efforts in growing the state’s bioscience sector.

Support for Local Breweries, Wineries, Distilleries, and Retailers The Alabama Legislature has made tremendous strides allowing Alabamians to engage in the business of brewing beer, making wine and distilling liquor. These changes have encouraged local business people to start an entirely new Alabama industry, bringing hundreds of jobs and great acclaim to the State. The legislature took another important step to grow this industry in 2016 by authorizing the sale of alcoholic beverages directly from the manufacturers. Proposed regulations would impose burdensome and unnecessary requirements such as:  requiring 30 day advanced notice by the licensee to the Board prior to a tasting event; requiring bottles used at tastings be designated for tasting use only and not for resale; maintain proof of purchase for the products beyond those records already kept; and limiting the times for tastings to small windows of time between six and eight PM. Recent changes have also advanced reporting schedules to the 15th of the month, further burdening these businesses. The ABC Board is also considering similar onerous reporting requirements for all off-premise sales, requiring the collection of personal information including the purchaser’s name, address, telephone number, date of birth, all of which is subject to verification by the ABC Board. Such detailed records are not necessary and should be eliminated. We would request that the ABC Board relax these regulations. If the ABC Board is unable or unwilling to make these requested changes, we would encourage the Alabama Legislature rewrite the statues to provide the appropriate statutory guidance.

Support Autonomous Vehicle Use in CRP Cummings Research Park is the second largest research park in the US and the fourth largest research park in the world. Efforts are underway to rewrite CRP’s Master Plan, to bring Park standards up to modern day expecations. Autonomous vehicle technology is becoming a viable and attractive technology which the City and Chamber would like to incorporate into the Cummings Research Park. We would request that the legislature provide for “test bed” or other necessary legislative accommodations to permit autonomous vehicle use in CRP.

Telecommunications Infrastructure Broadband is an essential component of our infrastructure and critical to growing and diversifying our economy. The Huntsville/Madison County Chamber of Commerce supports policies that promote greater access to affordable wired and wireless broadband for all our citizens and businesses; encourages new investment and technology development and deployment across our community; and, promotes greater competition and choices for businesses and consumers. We oppose public policy that leads to excessive government intervention and regulation of the Internet, which will inevitably discourage investment and drive up costs for business and consumers.

For more about the Chamber of Commerce of Huntsville/Madison County, visit us online at hsvchamber.org.

2017 State Agenda  
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