MONTGOMERY VOTES TO MOVE EDUCATION FORWARD
For the first time in 50 years, Montgomery residents voted to invest in our future—our children. Led by a coalition of business community stakeholders and visionary elected leadership, Montgomery residents voted in an overwhelming majority to increase education funding for Montgomery Public Schools. Amid a year marked by a pandemic, Montgomery came together as never before, and the “yes” vote did more than create much-needed funding for our schools. It gave us all the confidence that we can be the Montgomery we aspire to be. Read our article on Montgomery’s full education picture on page 60.
HYUNDAI ADDS FIFTH VEHICLE TO MGM PRODUCTION PLANT
On November 9, Hyundai Motor America introduced the all-new 2022 Tucson to the U.S. automotive media. During the press event, José Muñoz, President and CEO, Hyundai Motor North America, announced Hyundai is expanding the number of models it builds in the United States with the addition of 2022 Tucson production at the Hyundai Motor Manufacturing Alabama (HMMA) plant in Montgomery starting in 2021.
HMMA, which started vehicle production in May 2005, is Hyundai’s only U.S. manufacturing facility and produces Hyundai’s highest volume of U.S. models including Santa Fe, Elantra and Sonata. Hyundai will build the 2022 Tucson and Santa Cruz at HMMA because of the continued SUV growth in North America and the benefits of localized production in meeting consumer demand. While Tucson production will continue in Korea, the majority of production for U.S. customers will come from Alabama. Tucson is Hyundai’s best-selling model in our country.
“Hyundai’s decision to build the Tucson in Montgomery is indicative of their belief in the performance and expertise of our HMMA team,” said Montgomery Mayor Steven L. Reed. “It allows Hyundai to quickly adapt to consumer preferences and demonstrates the long-term commitment between Hyundai and the Montgomery community. We are proud of Hyundai’s track record of success and stand steadfast in our continued support of HMMA.”
Montgomery County Commission Chairman Elton Dean expressed similar thoughts. “Montgomery remains deeply committed to its partnership with Hyundai Motor Manufacturing Alabama and is honored to learn that now five of Hyundai’s best-selling, innovative and high-quality models are built here in the River Region,” he said. “Together, Hyundai and Montgomery have created a roadmap for manufacturing success of which we are very proud.”
And the Chamber’s 2020 Chairman, Arthur DuCote echoed both, noting how proud Montgomery is of its longstanding partnership with the auto manufacturer. “As home to Hyundai’s only North American manufacturing facility, the Montgomery community pledges to continue our enormously successful partnership,” DuCote said. “We are so very honored that Hyundai has chosen to expand the number of vehicles built at Hyundai Motor Manufacturing Alabama.”
HMMA is now capable of building five high-quality models on a single line with a group of more than 3,000 dedicated team members and has produced more than 4.75 million vehicles for the North American market during the past 15 years.
TECHMGM HOLDS VIRTUAL STEM CAMP FOR STUDENTS
TechMGM, Montgomery’s initiative to connect and leverage the city’s unique technology assets, and the Montgomery Armed Forces Communications and Electronics Association (AFCEA), recently hosted a virtual camp for all 8th grade Montgomery Public Schools students to help interest them in STEM disciplines and career paths. CampIT exposed students to the fields of digital media, cybersecurity, software development and esports. This event aligned with TechMGM’s mission to maximize the community’s diverse technology talent pipeline and promote the city as an emerging and innovative technology hub.
“The goal of CampIT is to allow students to expand their horizons, explore and engage with different STEM and IT careers,” said Charisse Stokes, Executive Director of TechMGM. “By holding this event virtually this year, we were able to reach more students and possibly prepare them for a higher wage, skilled work environment.”
TechMGM partnered with the Montgomery AFCEA Chapter Education Foundation, Montgomery Esports and Gaming, MGMWERX, Fearless and CGI for the event.
MAXWELL AIR FORCE BASE TO RECEIVE NEW FLYING MISSION
The Air Force has chosen Maxwell Air Force Base’s 908th Airlift Wing as the preferred location to host the MH-139A Grey Wolf Formal Training Unit. The MH-139 Grey Wolf is the replacement platform for the Air Force’s UH-1N Huey helicopter, which supports the Air Force’s Intercontinental Ballistic Missile (ICBM) missions. The aircraft will be one of the Air Force’s newest aerial weapons systems and has a long future as a strategic Air Force asset. The aircraft should begin to arrive in 2023.
The opportunity to acquire this training mission at Maxwell is paramount as the Air Force divests from existing C-130 missions, which would affect the 908th Airlift Wing at the base as soon as 2023. The receipt of the MH-139 ensures mission stability for the 908th Airlift Wing, an Air Force Reserve unit that has called Maxwell Air Force Base home for multiple decades. Now, Alabama’s only Air Force Reserve Unit will have a helicopter flying training mission and partnerships with Global Strike Command and Air Education and Training Command. The 908th Airlift Wing consists of more than 1,198 individuals and boasts an annual economic impact in the region of more than $60 million annually. The MH-139 mission, coupled with other Air Force missions, positions Montgomery extremely well to support our nation’s national defense posture.
“Maxwell AFB’s selection for this next-generation flying and training mission shows that Montgomery and Maxwell are on the leading edge in supporting the Air Force as it accelerates change and innovates to prepare America’s Airmen and protect our nation,” said Anna Buckalew, the Chamber’s President and CEO. “Montgomery’s defense sector is a critical economic driver for our region, and this is further proof of the momentum that continues to build for our future.”
Thanks in particular are due to the leadership efforts of Senator Richard Shelby, the senior member of Alabama’s congressional delegation who worked directly with the Secretary of the Air Force to solidify the MH-139 mission, and to Congresswoman Martha Roby, whose district includes Maxwell Air Force Base and who has advocated tirelessly for the men and women who will make this mission possible.
“The impact this decision will have on our community is significant,” said Mayor Steven L. Reed. “Montgomery continues to prove it is not only serious about its support for our military, but that we are serious about our ability to look ahead and to successfully compete for the projects, missions and initiatives that will carry our community and our nation forward.”
Montgomery County Commission Chairman Elton Dean offered praise. “Congratulations to the men and women of the 908th Airlift Wing who have received a vote of confidence from our national defense leadership,” Dean said. “Montgomery is known as the best hometown in the Air Force because of our exceptional and enduring partnerships between Air Force leadership, the Montgomery community and our congressional delegation’s tireless support.”
MONTGOMERY LEADERS CELEBRATE NATIONAL MANUFACTURING MONTH
On October 1, the Chamber kicked off its celebration of National Manufacturing Month with a virtual town hall on manufacturing featuring Mayor Steven L. Reed, County Commission Chairman Elton Dean and Trenholm State Technical College Interim President Anita Archie to recognize Montgomery’s diverse manufacturing sector and its significant economic impact on the River Region.
The Montgomery metro area is home to 325 manufacturing companies, employing more than 18,200 workers, that produce surgical equipment, aircraft parts, water heaters, automobiles, branded pharmaceuticals and more. The average annual salary at manufacturing companies in Montgomery is more than $58,500 per year, 29 percent higher than the local average wage.
In addition to the town hall, the Chamber has produced a video highlighting local manufacturing employees and the career opportunities that exist in modern manufacturing. The video was distributed to local education partners during the month of October.
“This month, we want to celebrate our manufacturing sector for its significant contribution to our local economy,” said Arthur DuCote, 2020 Chamber Chairman. “At the Chamber, we are dedicated to enhancing the quality of life for our residents by creating and preserving jobs. We hope that during this month, we can attract local students and members of our workforce to consider a career in manufacturing.”
CHAMBER LAUNCHES PROFESSIONAL PRODUCTION STUDIO
Instead of being overwhelmed by the obstacles of the pandemic, the Chamber saw an opportunity to not only adapt but to prepare for the future. To keep the business community connected to each other and timely resources, it quickly launched an in-house production studio to transform more than 40 signature events into high quality virtual experiences, in addition to providing COVID-specific programming during the height of the crisis. The new production studio not only elevated the value of the Chamber’s virtual events, but also positions the organization to execute an exciting new digital content plan as we emerge from COVID response and enter a new phase of communications and programming strategy in the future.