Longstanding Chamber President Honored at Retirement Party
The Chamber hosted a community-wide retirement party for its out-going President, Randall (Randy) L. George, on April 1 at the Renaissance Montgomery Hotel & Spa downtown. Several hundred people were in attendance, and during the celebration, George received several proclamations and honors for his years of service. “Working with this Chamber for 46 years has been an honor and a privilege,” said George. “I have been truly blessed to have worked with incredible business and elected leadership and the most talented and dedicated team of professionals any organization could hope for.”
Destination MGM Hosted A Meeting Planner Fam Tour
The Chamber’s CVB Sales Team hosted a two-day familiarization tour in late March in conjunction with the Connect Diversity Conference, held in Birmingham. Ten planners from across the United States toured downtown hotels and visited several local attractions including the Equal Justice Initiative’s Legacy Museum and National Memorial for Peace and Justice. Many of the planners represent multiple organizations, and as a result of the conference and the tour, the CVB sales staff is working to bring several meetings to Montgomery.
Montgomery continues to garner praise and recognition from major media outlets around the world. A few of the most recent and notable articles and coverage include:
- NEWSWEEK: Journey Through American History in Montgomery, Alabama
- NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC: Take a Green Book-inspired road trip through Alabama’s civil rights history
- FORBES: Montgomery: Alabama’s Capital Is On The Move
- BOSTON GLOBE: Sudbury woman is at center of restoration and reconciliation in Montgomery, Ala.
- WALL STREET JOURNAL: In the South, New Monuments Look to Honor Victims of Lynching
- SMART CITIES COUNCIL OF NORTH AMERICA: MGM Makes Smart Readiness Challenge Top Ten
- WASTE TODAY MAGAZINE: Getting Smart. The city of Montgomery, Alabama, overhauled its waste collection efforts through investment in new technology.
The Chamber Joined Rest of the “Big 5 Chambers,” the CCAA and the BCA In Support of the Rebuild Alabama Act
The “Big 5 Chambers” of Alabama and the Chamber of Commerce Association of Alabama (CCAA) united with the Business Council of Alabama (BCA) to show support for Governor Kay Ivey’s Rebuild Alabama Act. The Birmingham Business Alliance (BBA), Chamber of Commerce of Huntsville/Madison County, Mo-bile Area Chamber of Commerce, Montgomery Area Chamber of Commerce and The Chamber of Commerce of West Alabama supported the legislation to strengthen Alabama’s infrastructure.
“Rebuild Alabama is critical in order for local communities and our state to be competitors in economic development, not to mention providing a better quality of life and safety for our citizens,” said Willie Durham, Chairman of the Montgomery Area Chamber of Commerce. “Governor Ivey knows that infrastructure is key to creating jobs, and we applaud her for her leadership.” Greg Curran, Chairman of the Firm, Maynard, Cooper & Gale, P.C. and Vice Chairman of the BBA’s public policy committee echoed Durham. “The BBA supported the Rebuild Alabama Act and its intended purpose of increasing Alabama’s public investment in transportation infrastructure, promoting economic growth and increasing public safety on Alabama’s roads,” he said.
Increasing Alabama’s public investment in infrastructure is a top priority critical to the economic development community. The Rebuild Alabama legislation will help fund projects across the state, ultimately spurring job growth and ensuring that Alabama is able to success-fully compete for new business. The Governor’s plan will provide a long-term solution to improve transportation infrastructure in Alabama.
“Transportation infrastructure is vital to the economic vitality of our region and the State. We applaud the efforts of Governor Ivey, Speaker McCutcheon, Senate Pro-Tem. Marsh and members of the Alabama House and Senate for crafting the Rebuild Alabama
Act,” said Chip Cherry, President and CEO of the Huntsville-Madison County Chamber of Commerce. “The increase in funding for transportation infrastructure projects will make the roads safer for our citizens, support economic development, and provide one of the key foundational elements needed for future growth and development.”
“The road to our future must be paved,” said Business Council of Alabama President and CEO Katie Boyd Britt. “Alabama’s transportation system is crucial to our economic growth, and BCA was proud to stand united with these chambers and so many others to support Governor Ivey and the legislature to Rebuild Alabama.”
“Chambers of Commerce are the pillars of our communities, and we are strongest when we stand together,” said Jeremy Arthur, president and CEO of the Chamber of Commerce Association of Alabama. “We can no longer sit idling while every other state around us improves their infrastructure and lands the jobs and industries that otherwise would come to Alabama.”
The BCA, the five largest chambers of commerce throughout the state and CCAA all agree that increasing Alabama’s investment in transportation infrastructure to sustain and promote economic growth, job creation, quality of life and public safety is a necessity.
A Bite from Annual Eggs & Issues
The Chamber hosted the longest running state senator, Richard Shelby, at the annual Eggs & Issues event on March 11. The sold-out event had a standing-room-only crowd that listened as new President of the Business Council of Alabama and former Shelby Chief of Staff Ka-tie Boyd Britt introduced the senator and then as Shelby spoke about the F-35 program being on track, which is partly thanks to his efforts. He also touched on the funding of the Air Traffic Control Tower at Max-well-Gunter Air Force Base, recognized Maxwell and Hyundai as being major drivers of the Montgomery economy, and spoke at length about the Air Force and his role in funding the many missions and initiatives that are Air Force-focused. Overall, he showed his keen awareness of Montgomery’s major areas of focus and an eagerness to stay engaged.
TechMGM Hosts CampIT, Announces National Best Robotics Competition
TechMGM, the Chamber’s initiative to connect and leverage Montgomery’s unique technology assets, provided hands-on Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics (STEM) experiences to 200 students at the annual CampIT held on March 1, 2019, at Alabama State University. Sessions on cloud computing, cybersecurity, website design, robotics and more were given by industry leaders for students to learn, participate and engage in STEM and Information Technology activities.
This year’s event also featured an announcement by Alabama State University, the hosting educational institution of the upcoming Montgomery BEST Robotics Competition to be held October 18-19, 2019. “Montgomery has a growing tech community, and we believe we can get students interested and prepared for these job opportunities at an early age through programs like CampIT and the BEST Robotics Competition,” said Charisse Stokes, Executive Director of TechMGM. “We have received great feedback on the camp and BEST Competition and believe these fun events will excite students about a future in the tech industry.”
BEST, which stands for Boosting Engineering, Science and Technology, is a national program in its 26th year and aims to initiate robotics programs at no cost in middle and high schools. The Montgomery BEST Robotics Competition will host up to 24 schools from the River Region and the central Alabama area. BEST is successful because of its emphasis on student and team involvement and because it encourages creative thinking, problem solving and goal-directed learning. Students got a sneak peek into the competition at CampIT, as they were able to interact with a robot used in the 2018 BEST Robotics Competition.
“Seeing robots that were made for the BEST com-petition at CampIT was exciting and made me want to participate in this year’s competition,” said Will Owen, eighth grade student at Trinity Presbyterian School.
This fall, teams participating in Montgomery’s BEST Robotics Competitions will build robots that task students with the same design challenges, time and material constraints and competitive pressure that real-world engineers face. This year’s game, Off the Grid, is designed by BEST Robotics in partnership with Texas Instruments.
The Montgomery Smart Community Alliance, a public-private partnership focused on advancing smart city initiatives in the City of Montgomery, has been formed and launched. The alliance held its kickoff meeting in mid-February and is coordinating a smart community strategic plan to identify community priorities and solutions that address them, with several initiatives already underway. While this effort will start with the Living Lab on Commerce Street, it is an effort that is designed to grow and include numerous projects, an expanded footprint and additional partners.
Information Exchange Made Easier
TechMGM formed the University Technical Steering Group, and Faulkner University is the latest organization to join, which includes Alabama State University, Au-burn University Montgomery, Trenholm State Community College and Troy University Montgomery. The group will implement programs to prepare area students for a higher-wage, skilled-work environment that is growing in Montgomery. The group will bring together local and regional community colleges, universities and top IT employers.
MGM Hosts Montgomery IT Summit
Tech and IT initiatives are all the buzz in Montgomery lately, and the Montgomery IT Summit held May 20-22, along with the Air Force Information Technology Conference, held in August, puts Montgomery on the forefront of technology and innovation and positions the city as a leader in the tech space. This year, as in previous years, the Montgomery IT Summit highlights up-to-the-minute trends in Air Force programs and technology and features the best and brightest DoD and Industry Leaders to inform attendees of the current state of Information Technology and its use within the U.S. Air Force. The event speakers and panel members close the loop by pointing out future growth areas and newly developing business opportunities for industry participants. For information or to register visit afceamontgomery.org/MITS.
Montgomery Reveals Strong First Quarter
Because the Chamber links the public and private sector around a shared vision, it achieves far greater results at a tremendous value to its investors, as the first quarter of 2019 has shown:
- So far this year there have already been seven expansions to existing businesses yielding $52.3 million in capital investments and 287 new jobs.
- In the past 18 months, Montgomery has achieved more than $3M in earned media exposure, elevating and improving the city’s image on a national scale.
- A recent Milken Institute report ranked Montgomery 1st in the nation in High Tech GDP Growth for 2016-2017 — besting cities like San Francisco, Austin and Chattanooga.