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    THE LATEST HEADLINES:

    SMART CITY NEWS: SMART PARKING LAUNCHES DOWNTOWN

    With an increase of 400,000 visitors last year and an ever-expanding array of dining, hotel and entertainment options, parking is at a premium in downtown Montgomery. The city’s new partnership with ParkMobile, the nation’s leading provider of smart parking and mobility solutions, will trade the hassle of meters and loose change for the convenience of paying for parking from nearly any mobile device.
     
    “Incorporating ParkMobile’s seamless capabilities into our parking infrastructure not only saves time and hassle, but it is another example of our efforts to bridge the digital to the physical to meet the needs of residents, visitors and businesses alike,” Montgomery Mayor Todd Strange said.

    “We are proud to offer yet another smart, sustainable solution that enhances overall quality of life and positions Montgomery for further success and development.”
     
    The ParkMobile app is available for more than 1,700 metered parking spaces in Montgomery. Signage posted around the city explains how to pay for parking using the free app, available for both iOS and Android devices. A user simply enters the zone number posted on the ParkMobile sign, chooses the duration of time and taps sign, chooses the duration of time and taps the “start parking” button. ParkMobile sends alerts when a parking session is about to expire. Parking may be paid for through the app or by calling the number included on the signage.
     
    “ParkMobile is excited to bring our smart parking solutions to the City of Montgomery,” said Jon Ziglar, CEO of ParkMobile. “We have a growing base of users in Alabama, so the more places we are available, the easier it will be to park, wherever you travel across the state.”
     Already available to users across Alabama in cities like Birmingham and Mobile, ParkMobile’s expansion into Montgomery comes at no cost to the city. The partnership complements Montgomery’s “Smart City” strategy to leverage technology to solve everyday issues, increase efficiency and enhance overall quality of life in Alabama’s capital city.
     
    HYUNDAI SANTA FE NAMED MOST DEPENDABLE MIDSIZE SUV
    Montgomery is proud to be home to Hyundai’s only North American manufacturing facility, HMMA, which produces the Santa Fe, Sonata and Elantra model vehicles. The Santa Fe was recently recognized as the most dependable midsize SUV by J.D. Power’s annual U.S. report card, and both the Sonata and the Elantra ranked in the top three of their segments. 
     
    HMMA TO BUILD INNOVATIVE ENGINE HERE
    Hyundai Motor Manufacturing Alabama (HMMA) will be among the first plants in the world to produce the world’s first continuously variable valve duration (CVVD) engine, an innovative engine created by Hyundai that will be featured in the Smartstream G1.6 T-GDi engine and built in HMMA’s new engine plant beginning this fall. The valve control technology regulates the duration of valve opening and closing according to driving conditions, achieving a 4 percent boost in performance and a 5 percent improvement in fuel efficiency. The technology also cuts emissions by 12 percent.
     
    THE LATEST ECONOMIC NEWS:

    AUTO SUPPLIER OPENS FIRST NORTH AMERICAN FACILITY IN MGM 
    On July 10, the Chamber, along with state and local elected officials, joined Gerhardi, Inc., at the grand opening of its Montgomery facility, its first in North America. The company has invested $41.6 million in the new facility, which will employ up to 235 employees. 

    “Gerhardi, Inc. is very excited to announce the grand opening of our state-of-the-art injection molding, electroplating and assembly plant in Montgomery,” said Gerhardi’s Managing Director, Reinhard Hoffmann. “Montgomery has proven itself as the perfect location for Gerhardi to introduce our processes and product to the automotive world in the U.S. As Alabama continues to grow and develop as one of the leading areas in automotive manufacturing, Gerhardi, Inc. looks forward to the many opportunities for growth in the future.”
    Gerhardi, founded in 1796, originally manufactured brass and copper buckles. Over the years it expanded to production of tea and coffee sets. By 1952, it began to shift focus to production of automotive components.

    “This is a company that has both a rich history and a solid reputation for being on the cutting edge of the future. Their investment in the River Region speaks volumes about what we have to offer,” said Elton N. Dean Sr., Montgomery County Commission Chairman.
    “We congratulate Gerhardi on their grand opening. Gerhardi could have chosen any place in North America to locate this facility and they chose the Capital of Dreams,” said Montgomery Mayor Todd Strange.

    “We welcome Gerhardi as part of Montgomery community,” said Willie Durham,  Chamber Chairman. “In Montgomery they see a place that can uphold their high standards of excellence. It is certainly exciting to know that we are part of an organization so firmly rooted in the future.” 

    Gerhardi is headquartered in Lüdenscheid, Germany. It employs approximately 1,400 workers at four production plants throughout Germany with annual sales totaling approximately $200 million.
     
    CITY CEMENTS PARTNERSHIP WITH RUBICON GLOBAL
    The City of Montgomery announced that a formal three-year agreement has been reached with Rubicon Global to equip more than 60 City vehicles with its RUBICONSmartCity technology to improve performance, reduce maintenance costs and enhance residential and commercial sanitation service.

    “The RUBICONSmartCity platform helps cities of all sizes leverage data to make smarter decisions about waste, recycling and city operations, leading to improvements in sustainability and quality of life that map to an overall mission to end waste,” said Michael Allegretti, Chief Strategy Officer, Rubicon Global. “Piloting RUBICONSmartCity, the City of Montgomery was able to view and analyze data that is helping the City improve customer service and shape future policy decisions. We are thrilled that the City of Montgomery decided to award Rubicon this smart city contract.” 

    A technology company providing software as a service solution for smart city management processes, Rubicon helps clients optimize daily operations and ultimately find myriad efficiencies, and thus cost savings – from fleet and equipment repair costs to manpower and overtime. The platform includes a phone-based mobile app, a plug-in device and a web portal allowing the City’s Sanitation Department to track key metrics, like service confirmations, missed pickups and issues at the curb. The City’s Fleet Management Department will harvest data to track vehicle usage and maintenance needs in real-time.

    “Not only are we saving staff time and taxpayer dollars with Rubicon, but this is an essential part of our overall Smart City strategy that ensures our sanitation and fleet organizations work smarter, not harder, to enhance our residential and commercial services,” Montgomery Mayor Todd Strange said. “It is another investment that will pay dividends for future growth and development by affecting overall quality of life in the Capital of Dreams.”

    The three-year contract with Rubicon stems from a successful six-month pilot program launched in 2018. The partnership proved beneficial to both parties and earned the Smart Cities Connect Smart 50 Award for Urban Operations, an annual awards program recognizing the 50 most transformative smart city projects across the world. More importantly, the software unleashed a realm of new capabilities that could be useful throughout the City’s public works and public safety organizations. Part of this included transforming the City’s sanitation fleet into a mobile data collector by enabling trucks to flag potholes, overgrown grass, graffiti and other issues found across routes.

    “We saw ourselves as co-innovators with Rubicon,” Montgomery City Services Director Chris Conway said. “Once we saw the success in managing our routes and fleet performance, we began testing new ways the application could save time, staff resources and money while better serving residents. Rubicon – and other projects, like Roadbotics and StarWatch – are only the beginning for Montgomery as we build the blueprint for what it actually means to be a Smart City.”

    The City also announced a two-year extension of its partnership with RoadBotics, which offers a much more comprehensive and unbiased analysis of Montgomery’s paving needs at a fraction of the time and costs associated with human analysis.
     
    EDUCATION NOTES: CHAMBER HOSTS CHARTER SCHOOLS DISCUSSION
    The Chamber recently facilitated a panel discussion on charter schools, where panelists outlined and discussed charter school pros and cons in detail. Close to 100 people from the community were on hand for the discussion and were able to submit questions throughout the event. Panelists included Krystal Allen, Founder & CEO, K. Allen Consulting, LLC; Tyler Barnett, Founding Executive Director, New Schools for Alabama; Justin Hampton, Director of Innovation & Strategic Initiatives, Montgomery Education Foundation; Dr. Lashae King, Montgomery Public Schools, STEM Specialist; and Dr. Lori White, UAB School of Medicine & Board Member, LEAD Academy.
     
    THE LATEST BUZZ: TOURISM

    CHAMBER CVB HOSTS MEET UP AT IRISH BRED PUB
    On July 16, the Chamber’s CVB held its quarterly Industry Partner Meet Up at Irish Bred. These unique events provide the Hospitality Industry an opportunity to engage, connect and foster collaborative relationships, but they also provide the CVB with an opportunity to inform the industry on key initiatives, sales activity and special projects.
     
    MEMBERSHIP MATTERS:

    CHAMBER EVENT HELPS BUSINESSES INCREASE THEIR NET WORTH
    The Chamber recently began hosting a new business development program for member businesses called Chamber ROI. The 50-minute training session offers valuable
    tips and tools and provides in-depth insight into:
    • Navigating the Chamber
    • Networking 101
    • Key steps to obtaining insider intelligence regarding MGM
    • Chamber activities, sponsorships, added member value and benefits and many of the opportunities offered throughout the entire River Region business community.
     
    HOSPITALITY ACADEMY 2019 KICKS OFF
    The 2019 class of the Montgomery Hospitality Academy started on July 8 with 31 participants representing a variety of organizations around the region and was hosted by the Chamber CVB, the Montgomery County Commission and the City of Montgomery.

    Trainers with Continuing Education and Outreach at Troy University spent time teaching attendees how to manage the overall guest and customer service function, discover and solve the most impactful service dilemma, learn how to respond to the difficult customer and how to “keep them coming back” by managing the customer service journey.
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