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    The Alabama Tourism Department recognized the Legacy Museum as its 2022 Attraction of the Year during the Alabama Governor’s Conference on Tourism. EJI opened the new Legacy Museum: From Enslavement to Mass Incarceration in downtown Montgomery last fall. Since opening weekend, thousands of people from across the country have visited the new museum, which provides a comprehensive history of the United States with a focus on the legacy of slavery.

    The Chamber’s aggressive earned media and public relations strategy continues to yield international placements. In 2021, it earned more than $1 billion media impressions from national outlets. So far this year, placements include:
    • Coverage in The Miami Herald, The State (Columbia, SC) Travel Pulse on Experience Montgomery’s new “Journey Starts Here” Campaign
    • Coverage in Group Travel Leader on the Alabama Shakespeare Festival’s 50th anniversary season
    • Coverage in Men’s Journal naming Montgomery one of its “Best Places to Travel in 2022 for the Resilient, Ever-Optimistic Traveler”

    Governor Kay Ivey recently announced a grant that will fund the state investing $1 million to train students to work in the tourism industry by creating a certification program to give them the skills the industry requires. The move comes as Alabama’s $16 billion tourism and hospitality industry saw 25-percent growth in 2021 after declines during the worst of the pandemic. While the rebound is encouraging, Ivey said that labor shortages are holding the industry back. State and industry leaders hope the training program, developed by the Governor’s Office of Education and Workforce Transformation through the Alabama Community College System Innovation Center, will help solve this issue.

    Ronald A. Simmons, IOM, has joined the Chamber team effective March 1. He’s serving in a new role, Chief Officer, Destination and Community Development, where he will be responsible for the destination (CVB) division, as well as all “non-traditional” economic development and place building, which includes small and minority business development and The Lab on Dexter, the downtown plan and gateway transformation.

    “Ron will have a purview beyond destination development. He will be building and integrating the experiences we must create to be successful in our various targets: tourism, entrepreneurial growth, innovation, talent recruitment and more. We are thrilled to have Ron back at home in this new expanded role for our organization,” said Anna Buckalew, Chamber President and CEO.

    Simmons is a native of Montgomery and a 1983 graduate of Sidney Lanier High School. He is a graduate of Auburn University at Montgomery, where he received a bachelor’s degree in liberal arts with an emphasis in marketing and military science. He was commissioned as a second lieutenant in the U.S. Army Reserves from the Auburn University at Montgomery ROTC program in 1987. He is also a graduate of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation Institute of Organizational Management at the University of Georgia.

    Simmons rejoins the Chamber after serving as President and CEO of the United Way since 2020. Previously, he spent 10 years with the Chamber, most recently as the VP of Sales for the Convention and Visitor Bureau.

    At the end of January, The Alabama Port Authority approved a land deal in Montgomery County to construct an inland container intermodal transfer facility (ICTF). The $2 million purchase of 272 acres will extend intermodal rail service from the Port Authority’s container intermodal terminal at the Port of Mobile in support of Montgomery’s regional growth in manufacturing, retail, distribution and agribusiness sectors. Once complete, the project will generate 2,618 direct and indirect jobs, $340 million in business revenues and more than $14.2 million in state and local taxes.

    “The purchase of land to construct an inland container intermodal transfer facility in Montgomery is a big step for this great economic development project for the Capital City,” said Chamber Chairman Cedric Campbell. “Since we are centrally located in the Southeastern U.S., Montgomery is an ideal logistics hub due to its proximity to the Port of Mobile and direct railway and interstate access with I-65 and I-85 running through the region. We look forward to working with our partners at the Alabama Port Authority, CSX and others on the continuing components of this transformational project.”

    Mayor Steven L. Reed agreed. “We are proud to have Montgomery at the center of a truly transformative project that will change the trajectory of not only our state but the Southeast region,” he said. “This is a multi million-dollar gateway development for Montgomery and the result of many years of work, planning and partnership with the Port, The Montgomery Area Chamber of Commerce, CSX Transportation and others. Once complete, the inland intermodal transfer facility will drastically change our current economic development landscape and will lead to exponential growth and prosperity throughout our community.”

    The Montgomery ICTF extends the container intermodal assets at the seaport to public and private investments inside Alabama. When constructed, the intermodal container transfer facility will be serviced by CSX Transportation (CSXT) Intermodal. The project reestablishes regularly scheduled CSXT Intermodal rail service at the Port of Mobile and provides a foundation to expand intermodal services further inland to support CSXT customers. CSXT will contribute up to $12.5 million toward infrastructure improvements in the facility. Phase I of the facility is estimated at $54 million and could take up to two years to construct.

    “The Alabama Port Authority’s major investment shows that Montgomery is on the map and an essential part of logistics solutions within the Southeast,” said Montgomery County Commission Chairman Elton Dean. “This new logistics hub will not only transform the needs of regional shippers, it will also serve our local partners who invest millions of dollars into the local economy.”
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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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