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  • March 2017

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    Ralph Smith Motors is celebrating 75 years in business this month, making it the oldest active pre-owned car dealership in the state. Now owned and operated by Joe Smith, the business was founded in 1942 by his grandfather Ralph Smith. The dealership specializes in used auto sales and in-house financing, and is also one of the oldest members of the Chamber. Smith started selling cars alongside his grandfather when he was 18, left to pursue a counseling career but came back to the family business in 1991. He has stayed committed to the principles his grandfather instilled in him. According to Smith, the secret to the company’s longevity is “taking great care of our customers.” 

    The Alabama Department of Archives and History and Alabama Media Group recently announced that Alabama Media Group is donating its massive collection of photographic negatives to the Archives, where the images will be preserved, digitized and made available to the public. Containing an estimated 3 million images, the collection is the largest gift of historical content received by the Archives since its founding in 1901.
    The negatives were produced by scores of photographers who worked at the Birmingham News, Mobile’s Press-Register, and the Huntsville Times. They document occasions ranging from presidential elections to city council meetings and from civil rights demonstrations to high school football games. The earliest images are from the 1920s, but the bulk of the collection dates from the 1940s through the end of the twentieth century. Most were likely never published and have been seen only by the photographer and perhaps an editor. The donation comes at a time when the Archives is committing additional resources to the digitization of its collections to prepare for Alabama’s bicentennial in 2019. “Alabama Media Group has presented Alabama an extraordinary and early gift for its 200th birthday,” Murray said. 

    Montgomery-based Hartzell Engine Technologies’ president Mike Disbrow recently announced that the company is re-introducing its Plane-Power ALT-FLX line of FAA-PMA certi ed, 28V/150 Amp to 14V/100 Amp high output, belt-driven alternators. “The Plane-Power ALT-FLX belt-driven alternators deliver more continuous power at lower engine RPMs than any other aircraft alternator,” Disbrow said. “Because of their outstanding performance, value and installation flexibility, the Plane-Power ALT-FLX series of high output belt-driven alternators was very popular with customers. Unfortunately, as with some other Plane-Power products, we encountered component sourcing issues that needed to be resolved before we could again meet market demands with new products.”
    In the interim, the company’s solution is to offer factory-rebuilt units until the new component suppliers can be brought on line. “It is part of our ongoing commitment to ensuring our customers get the best possible experience from our products,” Disbrow said.

    The Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts is showcasing several winter exhibitions. The 28 quilts in “Sewn Together: Two Cen- turies of Alabama Quilts” are presented as “exemplary pairs,“ demonstrating and illustrating comparisons of the varied techniques, themes and traditional patterns as seen in 200 years of Alabama quilt making. “Nature, Tradition, & Innovation: Con- temporary Japanese Ceramics from the Gordon Brodfuehrer Collection” provides a dynamic survey of the diverse and innovative practices of ceramic-making in Japan, revealing the earthly beauty of ceramics. The MMFA will also feature two other exhibitions throughout the season: “Picturing Springtime” and “Pairs and Partners Curatorial Conversations: Chiaroscuro.” The artists in “Picturing Springtime” have depicted subjects that remind us of the beauty of spring, as well as the dramatic, and destructive, turn the season can take. The exhibition “Pairs and Partners” is a new initiative of the MMFA curators designed to share different points of view on topics that are related to artists and their works in the Museum’s collections. 

    CC’s Daiquiris celebrated its grand opening in downtown Montgomery in mid-December. “We’re so happy to be able to bring an authentic taste of New Orleans to Montgomery,” said owner Candy Capel. “It’s exciting to be part of all of the growth in downtown, and our entire Krewe couldn’t be more pleased with the reception that we have already received from our wonderful customers.” A native of New Orleans, Capel is grateful for all of the assistance that she has received  as she worked for more than nine months to bring to life her vision of the “Big Easy” in the River Region. She credits Liberty Bank, the City of Montgomery, the Small Business Development Center at the University of West Alabama, and all of her service vendors for making her dream a reality. She also praised her manager. “Qiana James, our Krewe Manager, is a non-traditional student who recently graduated at the top of her class from the College of Business Administration at Alabama State University,” said Capel. 

    Jim Wilson & Associates, LLC (JWA) recently announced EastChase Central, the newest retail development for EastChase. Located on 6.7 acres at the midway point of EastChase Parkway and directly across from the highly successful Hampton Inn & Suites, EastChase Central will bring new merchants, as well as some more familiar names, to EastChase and the Montgomery market. Completion and grand opening are scheduled for late Fall 2017. EastChase Central’s stores will include a Marshalls/HomeGoods superstore and Five Below. JWA continues to lead the Montgomery market with its EastChase development. “We continue to see excellent demand for outstanding real estate at EastChase,” said Will Wilson, the company’s president, “and EastChase Central, led by the Marshalls/ HomeGoods superstore and Five Below, will certainly make the outstanding shopping environment at EastChase even better.” 

    Four Star Freightliner, Inc. is honoring one of its employees, Zachary Sizemore, by creating a scholarship in his memory. Zachary, 32, worked in the accounting department at the Dothan, Alabama location and lost his battle with cancer in late 2016. He is remembered as a resilient man with a strong will to live. The announcement of the scholarship creation was made to his parents, Lorri and Stevie Sizemore, during the Four Star Freightliner Year End Employee Celebration in December. The scholarship is Four Star Freight- liner’s way of sharing how important he was to the company. “I felt it was important to honor Zack because he was such an inspiration to all of us because of the way he fought cancer time after time and never quit,” said Jerry Kocan, Four Star Freightliner Dealer Principal. 

    In an age where the nation’s police officers are facing life-threatening attacks on an almost weekly basis, a group of River Region businesses and individuals have demonstrated their profound respect and gratitude for the area’s public safety officers. For the 15th year, the Public Safety Insurance Fund (PSIF), a 501c3 charitable foundation, has endowed the nation’s first free life insurance program for public safety officers. Since the program’s inception, PSIF sponsors have donated more than $600,000 to fund these policies. This year, coverage was expanded to include offcers in the Alabama Department of Conserva- tion and Natural Resources law enforcement division (game wardens) and now encom- passes more than 2,500 public safety o cers in the River Region and Alabama. Standard Insurance and Palomar Insurance serve as the insurance brokers on these policies. PSIF consists of more than 165 River Region busi- nesses, individuals and organizations and was created by Montgomery businessmen Grant Sullivan and Jerry Wills. 

    Hope Inspired Ministries was started to help as many men and women in Montgomery as possible gain full-time employment, reduce dependency and create self-sufficient lifestyles. “I wanted each person to understand they were created with gifts and abilities by God and for them to use those gifts to be productive members of their community,” said Executive Director Michael Coleman. “We began praying for God to present HIM with opportunities to impact other cities in our state, and this led us to the city of Birmingham, specifically Woodlawn.” HIM is now collaborating with the local YMCA to o er its adult education classes and programs in the Woodlawn area and is housed in its Family Resource Center. 

    Montgomery’s Caddell Construction was awarded a design/build contract by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Overseas Buildings Operations for the new U.S. Consulate in Hyderabad, India. The multi-building complex will be situated on a 12-acre site in the new high-tech area of Hyderabad, and will include a new office building, U.S. Marine residence, entry pavilion, new support annex/warehouse and a utility building. Construction will commence in 2017 and project completion is anticipated in 2020. Caddell was also awarded the contract for the new U.S. Consulate in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia. The multi-building complex will be situated on a 10.5-acre site in the city of Al Khobar, and will include a new office building, U.S. Marine residence, entry pavilion, facilities for the community, including a swimming pool, warehouse, utility building, underground parking structure and a new residence for the consul general. This consulate will feature an intricate framework of diagonally intersecting architectural concrete, limestone, security windows, aluminum cladding and glass ber reinforced concrete screens that will function to meet the sustainability goals of the project. This design element will also maximize daylighting and minimize heat gain. Construction will commence in 2017 and project completion is anticipated in 2020. 

    Huntingdon College President J. Cameron West announced the formation of a summer seminar/awareness program focused on economic and community development for rising high school seniors. The Huntingdon College Economic and Community Development Scholars Program, planned in partnership with the Chamber of Commerce Association of Alabama, the Economic Development Association of Alabama, and the Alabama Department of Commerce, introduces young citizens who are poised to begin their professional journeys to the importance of economic and community development.
    “As we’ve talked with our partners, we’ve realized that there is a great need to make rising professionals aware of the impact they can have on a community’s ability to thrive,” said West. “The Millennial generation, who are in college now and about to begin college, will soon be the largest generation in America. Their awareness of community needs and empowerment to effect change is tremendously import- ant.” Chambers of Commerce across Alabama have nominated and funded one rising high school senior each in their area to participate in the program, which will be held June 12–14 on the Huntingdon campus. 


    Renew Our Rivers is kicking off its 18th year, with 31 cleanups planned across the state in 2017. Since the program started, about 100,000 volunteers have collected over 14 million pounds of trash and debris from waterways across the Southeast. The program began in 2000 with one man, Gene Phifer, who had a vision to improve the health and beauty of the Coosa River near Alabama Power’s Plant Gadsden, where he worked. Thousands of volunteers now participate in cleanups each year, devoting their time and labor to make a difference. In 2016 alone, 3,652 volunteers removed more than 346,700 pounds of trash from Alabama lakes, rivers and shorelines. Alabama Power employee volunteers assist at each cleanup, providing guidance and supplies to event organizers. Renew Our Rivers is just one of many initiatives in which Alabama Power partners with others to promote conservation and environmental stewardship in communities across the state. For an up-to-date listing of Renew Our Rivers cleanups, visit renewourrivers.com. 

    Mental illness and its impacts have been at the forefront of numerous news stories in the last few years. In fact, 25 percent of the general population will have some sort of mental illness in any given 12-month period. There is now a one-day training session available for business owners, their employees and anyone else wishing to take it called Mental Health First Aid. The River Region now has 12 certified instructors in the adult and youth versions of Mental Health First Aid, an 8-hour training session that takes the fear and hesitation out of starting conversations about mental health and substance use problems. It teaches participants how to identify, understand and respond to a variety of atypical behaviors and mental health situations. The training gives participants the skills needed to reach out and provide initial help and support to someone who has a mental health or substance use problem or is experiencing a crisis.
    Mental Health First Aid is an international program proven to be effective. Peer-reviewed studies published in Australia, where the program originated, show that individuals trained in the program:

    • Grow their knowledge of signs, symptoms and risk factors of mental illnesses and addictions.
    • Can identify multiple types of professional and self-help resources for individuals with a mental illness or addiction.
    • Increase their confidence in and likelihood to help an individual in distress.
    • Show increased mental wellness themselves.

    Studies also show that the program reduces the social distance created by negative attitudes and perceptions of individuals with mental illnesses. The one-day training is for groups of 12-30 individuals and will be taught by two certified instructors. The cost is $50 per person, which includes the book. For more information or to set up a training session, contact Alana Barranco at SummaSource at Auburn Montgomery by email at alana.barranco@summasource.com. 

    Kowa Pharmaceuticals America, Inc., based in Montgomery and a U.S. subsidiary of Kowa Company Ltd., a privately held, multinational company based in Japan, recently announced that it has entered into a licensing agreement with San Francisco-based CymaBay Thera- peutics (Nasdaq: CBAY), a clinical-stage biopharmaceutical company, for exclusive U.S. rights to arhalofenate, a compound in late stage clinical development for the treatment of gout. Under the terms of the agreement, Kowa Pharmaceuticals will license the product from CymaBay, which has completed a combined 17 Phase 1 and Phase 2 studies in over 1,100 subjects. Kowa Pharmaceuticals will manage the Phase 3 clinical development program, the regulatory process and will commercialize upon approval of arhalofenate in combination with febuxostat in the U.S. “In the United States, where approximately 8.3 million Americans suffer from gout, there has not been a significant advancement in treatment in almost a decade,” said Ben Stakely, Chief Executive Officer and President of Kowa Pharmaceuticals. “Arhalofenate has shown promise in early stage trials, and we are looking forward to advancing the clinical program to demonstrate its efficacy and safety as a potential treatment.” 

    Associated Mechanical Contractors, Inc. has three new officers effective March 1, 2017. Zachary E. Adams will serve as president. Adams has been with the company 14 years and has served as vice president for the last ve years. Kerry E. Henry will serve as Vice President of Operations. Guy White was named Vice President of Construction. He started with the company in 1990. Andrew Duncan will continue as Secretary Treasurer. He has been with the company for 16 years. 

    Women who choose to study at Au- burn University at Montgomery now have an additional incentive to become a Warhawk. A new organization is helping female students solidify their footing on campus while preparing them for success in the workplace and in life. “It’s women growing women,” said Dr. Nichole Thompson, assistant vice chancellor of Student Affairs, who, along with several other female leaders across campus, launched the Women Lead Society in August. The first group of students taking part in the Society resides on campus together in a living and learning community in the P-40 Place residence hall. Each is paired with a mentor — a female administrator or professor — and each month, the students take part in professional development that encourages growth in areas of service, learning, leadership, globalization and mentorship. While the students learn alongside other AUM students, their mentors check on them before midterms and finals and are available by phone and text to help advise the mentees when they have concerns or need additional guidance. The mentors in the Women Lead Society especially want to provide encouragement so the students will be prepared to take on leadership roles after graduation. “Their biggest challenge is balancing it all. We’re in a world where you have to be able to balance a lot of responsibilities,” said Thompson. 

    Troy University Montgomery added some additional green to its campus with the planting of a tree in January as a part of the University’s Tree Campus USA program. Faculty, sta and students took part in the ceremony. The tree was donated to the University by the City of Montgomery. In 2016, all four of Troy’s Alabama campuses received the Tree Campus USA designation from the Arbor Day Foundation. 

    The Huntingdon College community celebrated Martin Luther King Jr. Day in January with a Day of Service in memory of Dr. King’s life and legacy. In partnership with the United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR), Huntingdon students prepared Homeless Kits and Health Kits for distribution in the area and in areas of disaster or great need. Materials for the kits were donated by Huntingdon faculty, staff , family members and friends as well as members of our community. 

    Welch Hornsby co-founders John Hornsby and Eddie Welch have been working side by side for over 28 years. As Hornsby leaves the firm, he offered a few thoughts on the milestone. “Going forward with Eddie’s leadership, the leadership of our second generation and Welch Hornsby’s remarkable team of associates, the future remains bright for Welch Hornsby,” Hornsby said. “Relative to my departure from Welch Hornsby, I am excited about exploring some of my longstanding professional and personal goals, many of which I share with my best friend and wife, Virginia.” 

    Jackson Hospital’s annual Lights of Love took place in early December and invited River Region residents to celebrate the holiday season by honoring a caregiver, friend, business associate or family member, and investing in the health of their community with a donation. For each contribution of $15, a symbolic light was placed on the towering Christmas tree on display in the hospital’s main lobby. A generous gift of $100 or more purchased a miniature Moravian star. For a donation of $500 or more, the honoree was remembered as an angel. The proceeds benefitted Jackson Hospital’s oncology unit. 

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  • Montgomery Area Chamber of Commerce
    600 S. Court St, P.O. Box 79
    Montgomery, Alabama 36101
    Tel: 334.834.5200   Fax: 334.265.4745

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