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Jim Wilson & Associates
Jim Wilson & Associates continues giving back to the community
by David Zaslawsky
On the day that Jim Wilson Jr. died there were several “big checks” on his desk that he had signed that morning.
Wilson, who died in September 2006, was president and chief executive officer of Jim Wilson & Associates, a development company.
His son, Jim Wilson III, chairman and chief executive officer of the company, said that his father had “given big pledges that we are still working to pay through.” He said some of those pledges were 10-year commitments.
Millions of dollars were pledged to Huntingdon College, the University of Alabama, YMCA, Tulane University (where Wilson Jr. attended school), the Alabama Shakespeare Festival, The Montgomery Academy, Trinity Church, Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts and the University of Alabama-Birmingham – just to name a few.
“Dad was a giver and he gave ’til it hurt,” said Will Wilson, president of Jim Wilson & Associates. “He felt like God had blessed him with a lot of things and one of them was his financial ability and that it was his responsibility to give back to the community.”
Jim Wilson III and Will Wilson continued their father’s generosity.
The Wilsons donated land worth an estimated $1 million for a YMCA facility at the 1,400-plus acre New Park, a residential project they are developing in East Montgomery. They also donated $1 million for the facility.
In addition, the Wilsons donated $1 million worth of land for James W. Wilson Jr. Elementary School. The Wilsons also paid for the roads to get to the school and the YMCA facility.
“New Park is an investment of property that dad bought years ago,” Jim Wilson III said. “It’s going to be a long-term investment. The school and the Y were a gift to the community.”
Jim Wilson & Associates has donated tens of millions of dollars over the years, the Wilsons said. There are contributions to organizations “that nobody knows and we don’t want people to know,” Jim Wilson III said.
The Wilsons are more talkative about their substantial contributions to MANE (Montgomery Area Nontraditional Equestrians), a nonprofit organization that helps children and adults with emotional, physical, cognitive and developmental disabilities through therapeutic horseback riding.
The organization, which has a 44-acre site in East Montgomery, serves around 70 individuals weekly, according to the MANE Web site.
Jim Wilson III and Will Wilson said both of their families are involved in MANE.
“We try to be leaders in the community,” Jim Wilson III said. “We were downtown first with Union Station. Dad renovated Union Station and moved his corporate offices down there. We were the first ones out east with Wynlakes. We were the first ones out east with a major retail development (EastChase). We were the first ones to do a New Park, which is a very large scale, multi-faceted planned community.”
The company has stepped back from its feverish development, but the Wilsons are developing one more massive project: Redstone Technology Park, which is adjacent to the main gate of Redstone Arsenal in Huntsville.
The first phase of the project will feature 100,000 square feet of retail and office space and a hotel. The completed technology park will have 2 to 4 million square feet of office space and occupy 420-plus acres.
The Wilsons said the $1 billion development is a 20-year project and that such companies as Boeing and Teledyne will be located at the technology park.
The Wilsons are also talking about adding some apartments at EastChase, or as Will Wilson said, “bringing something to EastChase.”
Jim Wilson & Associates will also be busy with its New Park development, but now “we are very conservative and very cautious,” Will Wilson said. “We were mainly a big development company two years ago, constantly in the throes of hunting new deals. We do have some deals out there that we are trying to finalize, but it’s not near the pace that we were setting for the last 10 years.”
Jim Wilson III said the company is closely monitoring its assets and investments. “Just like every other company in the country – we are not in lockdown, but are trying to ensure that the long-term assets stabilize.”
Will Wilson said, “One of the things dad taught us was being active in the community. You’ve got to give back when you’ve been blessed. Yes, times seem to be tough, but you still have been blessed and you’ve got to give back whether it’s going and serving at the soup kitchen or serving at church or school.
“I think being a good corporate citizen means helping your town and trying to make it a little better for your kids, yourself and your community.”