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  • Powerhouse Q&A with Barrie & Laura Harmon

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    Barrie, who founded Harmon Dennis Bradshaw in 1977, and his wife Laura have lived in Montgomery all their lives. The couple views their commitment to their hometown and support of many arts organizations and non-profits, including the Chamber, as a natural extension of their affection for their city. And they see the same spirit in many of their fellow citizens.

    What is your company’s primary service?

    BH: We are insurance brokers, and we concentrate in certain segments like manufacturing, health care, wood products, construction, social services and property management. We are based here but have a satellite office in Birmingham.

    What are your community involvements?

    LH: My passion is Service Dogs Alabama, an organization that trains dogs to help students with a lot of things, like anxiety, which is helping raise test scores. I’m working to get them corporate support and planning a fundraiser. That’s one of the main ways I get involved, by aiding in fundraising efforts. I’m very involved with the Alabama Shakespeare Festival, the Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts and the Family Sunshine Center. And I’m on the board of the Jackson Hospital Foundation.

    BH: I’m personally supportive of all the arts here, ASF, the Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts, our symphony, Alabama Dance Theatre and the Montgomery Area Business Committee for the Arts. Outside of that, we both support Common Ground, Valiant Cross School and the Montgomery Christian School as well as the United Way.

    What’s your opinion of the business climate in Montgomery?

    BH: Very positive. I’ve seen a dramatic increase in the vitality of the business community here in the last five years, a lot of optimism and growth. The leadership at the city and the Chamber are really matched up well now, and together, they are providing the best business environment for the city that I’ve seen in a long time, and I’ve lived here all my life. I think the continued revitalization of downtown and economic development are the two most important things happening in the city right now, especially downtown. If the core of a city is not viable, the city is not viable. It will rot from the inside.

    LH: I am seeing the local business community being much more charitable recently. I think that points to a good business climate.

    What makes Montgomery special to you both?

    BH: We live in a very civic-minded community. Many of our residents understand their responsibility to support the things that make Montgomery a great place to live, like ASF, MMFA, the Symphony, our Zoo and initiatives that celebrate our rich history.

    LH: I’d like to add that all of the colleges we have here add to our community. And the willingness of people to get in and work together on different things.

    Why do you both provide the Chamber with such a high level of support?

    BH: The Chamber is really the lifeblood of Montgomery. It brings many different facets of the community together, and not just businesses. They work as a team with city leadership, making it the most effective Chamber I’ve seen since I’ve been in business. When Hyundai came to Montgomery, it was such a positive, and the Chamber was instrumental in cultivating that relationship and bringing them here. And because the Chamber is so active and visible, I think that encourages further community support from citizens.

    What do you see on the horizon for Montgomery?

    BH: I’m very encouraged to see so much young leadership emerging. Seeing these young people staying here and assuming responsibility. That points to a bright future, that, and the continued vitality downtown.

    LH: I also love seeing young people come back here and stay here, and that they are so active in the community. That’s what makes a place great.

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