With a history as vibrant as the state’s itself, the Montgomery Chamber, along with its unique blend of members and public-private partners is the largest coalition of businesses in central Alabama. For 150 years, it has been the driving force behind Economic Growth in Montgomery and the River Region. 2023 Chairman LaBarron Boone will lead the Chamber’s next Economic Growth Strategy, building on Montgomery’s Momentum.
View the article and download the pdf here.
Living the Dream
2023 CHAMBER CHAIRMAN LABARRON BOONE IS LIVING HIS PERSONAL DREAM AND NOW LEADING THE CHAMBER’S EFFORTS TO ALSO BRING TO LIFE A BOLD VISION FOR THE CAPITAL CITY.
by JENNIFER S. KORNEGAY | photography by JONATHON KOHN
When LaBarron Boone, Principal for Beasley Allen Law Firm, looks back on his life so far, a handful of defining moments stand out. From a childhood dream sparked by a story and a timely opportunity that became a course correction to reaping the rewards of hard work, each instance has shaped Boone. And Boone, who has invested his time and his talents in multiple efforts to improve the capital city, has in turn, shaped Montgomery. His commitment continues this year, as he holds the Chamber Chairman gavel and leads the organization in its mission to drive economic growth and build a greater Montgomery for all.
But Boone could just as easily be designing production systems and facilities in his hometown of Mobile. It was there that he had his first job with an engineering firm. He was putting his industrial engineering degree from Auburn to good use when the firm’s leadership surprised him with an offer. “They said they had been hiring outside lawyers, but they wanted to have in-house counsel,” he said. “They asked, ‘Do you want to go to law school?’”
He didn’t hesitate to reply with an enthusiastic “yes!”. Memories from one of those defining moments came flooding back. “I remembered when I was a kid, when I had decided that I wanted to be a lawyer,” he said. A book report on Thurgood Marshall had stirred a young Boone’s heart and mind. “I thought if one lawyer can change the world like that, that’s the profession I need to be in,” he said. As he studied the Civil Rights hero and Supreme Court justice, a saying his mother oft repeated finally made sense. “She always told me: ‘Make the world a better place for you being here.’ When I learned about Marshall, that clicked. That’s what he did.”
FULL SPEED AHEAD
Boone feels the beginnings of a groundswell in Montgomery, a building wave he wants to help the city ride. “If I had to use one word to describe the city right now, I’d say momentum. I believe we have a chance to change Montgomery in some great ways.” He points to recent accomplishments: Since 2015, Montgomery has consistently led the state in announced new and expanding projects.
But he wants more and believes Montgomery has more potential yet to be realized. “We are a great city, but we can be even brighter; we can be a shining light if we continue to come together and work together to solve problems,” he said. “The Chamber’s work is making this city a better place, and when someone or something is doing that, I can’t help but go all in.”
Life went on, Boone grew up, and he became an engineer. But then, he ended up in law school at The University of Alabama. He excelled and impressed his professors, so much so that when Montgomery attorney Jere Beasley asked the dean of the law school to identify the best student, he named Boone. At the time, Boone’s after-graduation plan was to head back to the engineering firm and work as its in-house counsel, but while he was at law school, the firm sold, and while he still had the job if he wanted it, he no longer had an obligation to return. When Beasley came calling, once again, Boone answered “yes!”. “After talking to the dean, Jere pretty much hired me on the spot. That was in 1995, so 27 years ago,” Boone said.
With his technical and engineering expertise, Boone handled many of the firm’s cases that had anything to do with those topics. He became partner and was then added to the firm’s executive committee, where he has been a member for the last 15 years. “We set the vision and direction for the entire firm, and that’s a lot of my work now,” he said. It’s been good work; Boone and other committee members have led the firm’s robust growth. “When I started, we had about 10 lawyers,” he said. “Now, we have 100 lawyers and 350 staff.”
A HELPING HEART
Today, Boone is respected by his colleagues and peers, evidenced by the leadership positions he holds in the legal industry, including president of the National Black Lawyers Top 100 group and president of the National Trial Lawyers Association. But he’s acquiring more than accolades. For Boone, the most meaningful result of his success is serving others. “What’s most rewarding to me is living out my mother’s words when she told me to make this world a better place,” he said. “When I first met Jere, he told me we represent the least of these, those who would be voiceless without us. He was echoing what my mom had told me, to do the right thing for the right reasons, and to be about something bigger than yourself.”
He’s following his mother’s wise advice outside the office too, making the world a better place with his multiple philanthropic and community-minded activities. The LaBarron and Lori Boone Educational Fund provides scholarships for at-risk kids from preschool through college. “They are super talented but come from backgrounds that may prevent them from reaching their potential,” Boone said. “Education is so important to me. It gives people hope.” Additionally, he serves on the Resurrection Catholic Missions board and the Cleveland Avenue YMCA board and has volunteered time to coach local Y basketball.
And this year, he’s serving his city by leading the Chamber board as its Chairman. Of all the hats he wears, he names it as one of the most significant. “Compared to the national organizations I lead, the Chamber is by far the most important to me right now,” he said. “My commitment is local; my heart is here.”
Galvanize & Guide
Chamber Chairman LaBarron Boone has big plans for Montgomery and believes focusing on the following points and pursuing the below goals will make the most lasting and powerful positive impacts on the city in 2023.
“My vision for this city can be simply outlined as three Es:
• I want to Engage.
• I want to Empower.
And if we do that, this city will Excel.
One step to achieve this is creating a council of higher learning to bring all our higher education institution presidents together. We can leverage the perspectives and knowledge they bring. This is key to continued improvement in our workforce development efforts, which is crucial to recruiting business and the jobs that come with them.
A second step is to create an emerging leaders group. We have the Chamber board, but most of those are established leaders. I want this new group to be a training ground for the next generation of leaders, a group to feed the future Chamber boards.”
Celebrating Progress. Casting a Vision. Gaining Momentum.
That was the theme for the Montgomery Area Chamber of Commerce’s 150th Annual Meeting, last month, where 700 business and elected leaders gathered to celebrate the power of partnership and the Chamber’s integrated approach to economic development. “2022 was a record-breaking year, and I am truly honored to follow in Cedric Campbell’s footsteps. He was such a dedicated chairman, and behind every one of these outcomes, he was deeply engaged. His leadership and presence made a difference, and we are forever grateful,” Boone said.
Major outcomes highlighted in 2022 include:
- 23 major projects totaling $1.7 billion in capital investment and 1,500+ announced new jobs.
- T he F-35 Red Tails for the 187th Fighter Wing of the Alabama Air National Guard are on schedule for arrival in 2023 with $100 million in military construction fully funded.
- The Lab on Dexter entrepreneurial hub on historic Dexter Avenue located at the intersection of tech and social innovation celebrates 1-year and sparks minority and small business growth.
- An elevated tourism experience and resurgence in travelers to the capital city continues to be an economic engine for Montgomery and Central Alabama.
- 1,000,000+ hotel room nights sold; 600 new hotel rooms under construction; $6 million+ in media exposure and more than 1.6 million impressions in tourism marketing
- Curated DE&I and social justice experiences for the Big Life Series representing the Big 10, PAC 12 and ACC Athletic Conferences with $2 million in economic impact.
- The Department of the Air Force Information Technology and Cyber Conference (DAFITC) returned with 5,000+ registrants, totaling more than 6,000 room nights and $7 million economic impact, bringing global Air, Space and tech leaders to Montgomery.
- The launch of a block-by-block comprehensive plan to activate and transform downtown as a catalyst for quality of life, tourism, talent recruitment and economic growth.
- Announcement of the $65 million Inland Port in partnership with the Alabama Port Authority, the centerpiece of Montgomery’s logistics strategy and revitalization of the I-65 corridor.
- Reveal of plans for the Maxwell Gateway, a dynamic new entrance to Alabama’s Capital City that highlights the Alabama River and includes corridor redevelopment, bike and walking trails and the internationally acclaimed Montgomery Whitewater recreation and outdoor conservation district.
- Montgomery Whitewater will open Summer 2023 with inter
- national competitive trainings and events already scheduled.
Want to make an impact? Join the Montgomery Chamber.
montgomerychamber.com | (334) 834-5200
Points of Pride
Chamber Chairman LaBarron Boone isn’t the only member of his family hitting the high notes. “My wife Lori is the best lawyer in the family; she was a staff attorney for Alabama Supreme Court Justice John Engle and now owns a company that invests in real estate,” he said. “My son Michael was a star basketball player in high school and is now at MIT studying chemical engineering. And my daughter Logan is a senior at LAMP and an accomplished violinist.” The law and keeping up with his driven family mean Boone stays busy, but he also carves out time for hobbies. “I love to read, usually autobiographies, and I’m an avid golfer. I play a round any chance I get,” he said.