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    Team Report - Behind the Scenes: Boosting Montgomery’s business sector

    Ellen G. McNair, CEcD, Senior Vice President of Corporate Development at The Montgomery Area Chamber of Commerce, offers a behind-the-scenes look at how she and her team go after new com­panies while supporting and expanding ex­isting industry all in the name of boosting Montgomery’s business sector.

    Explain the economic development efforts of the Chamber.
    Actually every department at the Chamber is involved in economic development—it may be tourism, small business, military etc. Through the years, our department has focused on the recruitment of new industrial development and the preservation and expansion of our existing industrial base, but that is truly just one facet of economic de­velopment. Now however, our department is branching out to include the recruitment of back office operations, information technol­ogy, workforce efforts and even working to improve the quality of place.

    How do the local business community and the community in general benefit from the Chamber’s economic develop­ment work?
    The best example of how both the local business community and the community in general benefit from the efforts of the Cor­porate Development department is Hyundai and the more than 90 suppliers that have lo­cated in Central Alabama in the last 15 years. HMMA has invested more than $1.8 billion in its Montgomery plant since 2002, and the HMMA suppliers have invested another $650M across central Alabama. Hyundai and its suppliers employ more than 15,000 people and provide $500 million in direct wages. The tax revenue from this group to the state is more than $70 million and more than $10 million is generated in local taxes. The total impact to the state by Hyundai and its suppliers is over $4.8 billion, annually.

    What resources do you and your team provide for Chamber members?
    We can provide information and/or re­sources for companies in the manufacturing sector, back office operations and IT sectors. Everything for workforce, financing, permit­ting, real estate—actually all factors that go into a new relocation or expansion.

    What one thing would you like MBJ readers to know about what you and your team do?
    We work behind the scenes. Most of our projects are very confidential, and we are typically under non-disclosure agreements. The competition for companies to recruit to our community in the advanced manufac­turing, back office or technology sectors is extremely fierce. There are more than 15,000 local development organizations across the country with whom we compete. The re­cruitment of these projects requires detailed information on dozens of topics including site and building information, finance, the availability and cost of workforce, state and local tax structures and incentive packages, environmental issues, transportation and logistics issues, utility and infrastructure and many others.

    What do you consider some of you and your team’s most significant achieve­ments?
    Definitely Hyundai and the supplier network. In 2002, the Hyundai project was the largest industrial project in the country. This is truly a once-in-a-lifetime project, and something we work to maintain and grow on a daily basis.

    How long have you worked in economic/corporate development for the Chamber?
    I have been in economic development for more than 35 years. I spent about 10 years at the State and the remainder at the Chamber. I actually worked for the State of Alabama, was hired by the Chamber, hired back to the state and then rehired back at the Chamber.

    What is your favorite thing about your job?
    Our work is extremely competitive; we compete with communities across the state, Southeast and the United States. The only way to be successful is to have a profes­sional, knowledgeable and responsive team, which includes many organizations across the community and state. We are so fortunate in Montgomery to have one of the best teams in the country. It is an honor and true pleasure to work with these professional men and women. What gives our team the most pleasure and the greatest reward is when we meet the men and women who have jobs in the companies we have worked to recruit, to expand or to retain. Providing the opportunity for good paying jobs for the people of the Montgomery area is such a wonderful part of our job.


    • Hyundai Motor Manufacturing Association has invested more than $1.8 billion in its Montgomery plant since 2002.
    • Hyundai and their suppliers employ more than 15,000 people and provide $500 million in direct wages.
    • Total impact: $4.8 billion
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