Record-setting Night for Madison Best in Business Awards

MADISON — It was a record-setting night for the annual Madison Chamber of Commerce Best in Business Awards.

This year’s event was held at the Insanity Complex Entertainment Center and, according to Pam Honeycutt, executive director of the Chamber, it was the biggest awards program ever.

“We had more than 400 attendees and a record number of nominees this year, giving the judges a real challenge to select the winners,” she said. “The Best in Business Awards are a celebration of the amazing contributions our local businesses are making to grow and strengthen our community.”

More than 50 local businesses were nominated in eight categories. The winners were II XCL Strength & Conditioning for Health & Wellness; Lee Company for Home & Living; Nesin Therapy Services for Medical Practice; and Blue Pants Brewery for Food Service. Alexander’s Martial Arts (Health & Wellness); Insanity Complex (Home & Living); Compass Physical Therapy (Medical Practice); and Lawlers Barbecue (Food Service) were finalists.

Deborah Ward of Inside-Out Ministries won the Community Servant of the Year and Sarah Sledge of Madison Public Library was the finalist. HomeFit Consulting won Start-up Business of the Year, with Legacy Chapel Funeral Home and Crematory as the finalist.

Louis Breland of Breland Companies won Excellence in Leadership & Service with Rachel Brown of Rachel Brown Homes the finalist.

Hogan Family YMCA won Nonprofit of the Year; Compass Physical Therapy took Small Business of the Year, and The Riley Center won Best Business of the Year. Finalists in those respective categories were the Downtown Rescue Mission, Inside-Out Ministries, and Kids to Love.

Teresa Croley of iHeartMedia won Ambassador of the Year.

Known for being inspirational and uplifting, the featured speaker was Dr. Karockas Watkins, CEO/President/Executive Director of Ability Plus. Good Samaritan Hospice was the event’s presenting sponsor and Capital Management Services was the trophy sponsor.

The evening started with a cocktail party sponsored by Progress Bank, and the winners and their guests were treated to a VIP champagne reception sponsored by IberiaBank after the program.

 

Trash Pandas to Unveil Logos, Team Colors on Saturday

MADISON — Amidst a cavalcade of music, fireworks and unprecedented excitement, the Rocket City Trash Pandas will unveil their team colors and six – yes, 6 – logos at a grand celebration Saturday night in Madison’s Dublin Park.

“We are just so grateful for the unprecedented support we’ve received from Madison, Huntsville and throughout North Alabama, beginning with the largest crowd for a groundbreaking ceremony and highest participation in a naming contest in Minor League Baseball history – all the way to the most demand for merchandise that anybody in our industry has ever seen,” said BallCorps Managing Partner Ralph Nelson. “It’s our honor to put on this concert and fireworks show to thank this amazing community and celebrate its incredible support.”

The team has selected six logos, four team colors, and a unique lettering template, to be featured on T-shirts, sweatshirts, hoodies and non-uniform caps, all of which will be available for purchase in the temporary Trash Panda Emporium, in the gymnasium at Dublin Park following the unveiling ceremony.

The team name was chosen Sept. 5, culminating a two-month “Name the Team” contest which included nearly 30,000 nominations and votes.

“The Rocket City Trash Pandas launch received more engagement and more national attention than any launch in Minor League Baseball history,” said Jason Klein of Brandiose, the Minor League Baseball industry’s premiere branding partner. “Fans are going to love seeing the experience come to life over the next year.”

Saturday’s free event starts at 6 p.m. with a concert by the band Dirt Circus. The unveiling is set for 6:43 p.m. and the fireworks extravaganza will launch around 8 p.m.

Those who plan to attend are asked to park at Bob Jones High School with shuttle service to Dublin Park beginning at 5:15. Blankets and lawn chairs are recommended for the concert and fireworks show.

Small Business Awards celebration honors Huntsville’s best

Lynn Troy of Troy 7 receives the Russell G. Brown Executive Leadership Award from Chamber Vice Chair Hank Isenberg (Photo by Steve Babin)

Amidst a gala “Masquerade Ball” atmosphere of a masked audience in formal attire, the Huntsville Madison County Chamber celebrated the city’s entrepreneurial community in the 33rd annual Small Business Awards.

Gary Bolton, the Chamber board chair and vice president of global marketing for Adtran, welcomed the crowd to Tuesday night’s affair. Hank Isenberg, Chamber vice president, small business and events, and Haley Baker of WAFF-TV were the emcees.

“We are celebrating the most successful” small businesses, Bolton said.

“We received 650 nominations and there are 155 contenders,” he said. “There are 1,100 people here” … in the soldout event held in the Von Braun Center’s North Hall.

Lynn Troy of Troy 7 received the prestigious Russell G. Brown Executive Leadership Award, the top honor presented annually.

Canvas was a double-winner, capturing the Woman-owned Business of the Year and the Government Contracting – Technology Business of the Year awards.

Mary Taylor Griffith with Aleta Technologies was named the HASBAT Small Business Advocate for Excellence.

A new category debuted, saluting the area’s booming growth – Local “Creative” of the Year. It was won by Pizzelle’s Confections.

The other winners were: Rocket City Digital, Emerging Business of the Year; Flint River Dental, Medical Practice of the Year; Capstone Realty, Professional Services Business of the Year; Kristina Sexton of NXTSTEP Family Law, Young Professional of the Year; Downtown Rescue Mission, Nonprofit of the Year; MartinFederal, Government Contracting – Professional Services Business of the Year; Earth and Stone Wood Fired Pizza, Culinary Business of the Year; Matt Curtis Real Estate, Service Business of the Year; and Summit Information Solutions, Technology Business of the Year.

 

 

 

HudsonAlpha conference to bring top researchers to the Rocket City

The Rocket City will become Genome City when researchers gather here for the sixth annual Immunogenomics conference.

Leading immunology and genomics researchers from around the globe will convene at the HudsonAlpha Institute for Biotechnology Oct. 1-3 for the conference.

Immunogenomics lies at the intersection of immunology and genomics and explores the ways in which the human genome interacts with disease. Researchers, students and academics discuss what’s next in the field and how it will help shape the future of human health.

In its sixth year, the Immunogenomics conference is truly international, attracting science leaders, faculty and students from a dozen countries who have the opportunity to learn more about not only HudsonAlpha but also the Rocket City.

HudsonAlpha will host the sixth annual Immunogenomics Conference on Oct. 1-3.

“Everyone who comes here always talks about how great the city of Huntsville is and how they enjoyed being on the HudsonAlpha campus,” said Dr. Devin Absher, faculty investigator at HudsonAlpha and conference organizer. “And at no other conference will you be able to eat dinner under the Saturn V rocket at the U.S. Space & Rocket Center.”

Absher serves as a conference committee chair along with Dr. Jian Han, a HudsonAlpha faculty investigator and founder of associate company and conference sponsor, iRepertoire. The company offers reagents and services to amplify and sequence the immune repertoire – a “logbook” of all current and past infections someone has experienced.

“Immune repertoire is the best biomarker because our adaptive immune system uses these receptors as disease sensors in response to disease-specific antigens,” said Han.

Han will present during day three of the conference and discuss the latest research and developments from iRepertoire. In addition, conference attendees will hear keynote presentations from Dr. Jeff Bluestone of the University of California, San Francisco; Dr. Mark Davis of Stanford University; Dr. Ellen Rothenberg of the California Institute of Technology; and Dr. Cisca Wijemga of the University Medical Center Groningen.

Early registration rates are available now through Sept. 6. HudsonAlpha is also offering discounts for academics, students, and nonprofit and government employees. For information/registration, visit immunogenomicsconference.org.

Leading Researcher and Top Commentator to speak at SMD Symposium

Among high-powered military leaders who will speak at the 2018 Space & Missile Defense (SMD) Symposium will be two prominent national security issues commentators and researchers.

Think tank fellows Dr. Thomas Karako and Rebeccah Heinrichs are scheduled speakers for the symposium at the Von Braun Center, Aug.7-9.

Karako will speak on Adapting Joint Air an Missile Defense Operations to the Near Peer Threat at 1:30 p.m. Tuesday.

Heinrichs is scheduled to speak at 10:30 a.m. Thursday on Space and Missile Defense Imperatives.

Karako has been with the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) since 2014 when he was named a fellow with the Project on Nuclear Issues. CSIS is an organization regularly called upon by Congress, the executive branch and the news media to explain the day’s events and offer bipartisan recommendations to improve U.S. strategy.

Karako is a senior fellow with the International Security Program, which is considered a constant source of reliable analysis on the threats and opportunities shaping U.S. security interests at home and abroad.

He is also the director of the Missile Defense Project, in which research considers the most pressing problems of the day, such as homeland missile defense, integrated air and missile defenses for U.S. forces and allies abroad, offensive strike capabilities, and investments in high technology to defeat missile threats through new and innovative means. The project also hosts a variety of events to shape the debate about policy, budgets, legislation, and both current and future programs.

Heinrichs is a senior fellow at the Hudson Institute, a nonprofit for more than 50 years established to challenge conventional thinking and help manage strategic transitions to the future through interdisciplinary studies in defense, international relations, economics, health care, technology, culture, and law, according to its website.

As a senior fellow researcher for the Hudson Institute, Heinrichs provides research and commentary on a range of national security issues, and specializes in nuclear deterrence, missile defense, and counter-proliferation.

A former Senate advisor on military matters and foreign policy, Heinrichs worked to help launch the bipartisan Missile Defense Caucus and will be speaking Aug. 9 to Symposium attendees on imperatives for space and missile defense.

Heinrichs has regularly appeared on Fox News and her work has been published in major newspapers such as The Wall Street Journal, The Los Angeles Times, The Washington Times, and Investor’s Business Daily as well as political journals such as Politico and The Hill.

Dr. Michael Griffin is keynote speaker at SMD Symposium

Michael Griffin

A former NASA administrator and University of Alabama-Huntsville eminent scholar returns to the Rocket City in a key role at one of the largest symposiums of its kind.

Dr. Michael Griffin, who is responsible for ensuring U.S. military technical superiority as Undersecretary of Defense for Research and Engineering, is set to provide the keynote address at the upcoming Space & Missile Defense Symposium.

The event is called “the leading educational, professional development and networking event in the space and missile defense community,” and the keynote dinner will be Aug. 8 at the Von Braun Center. According to a Department of Defense spokesperson, Griffin was not ready to reveal the topic of his address when contacted in July.

Griffin, a former NASA administrator and eminent scholar at the University of Alabama in Huntsville, took over his new role at the Pentagon earlier this year following a career that has spanned academia, industry, and the civil and national security government space sectors. He was appointed by President Trump to fill the new position created from the reorganization of the Pentagon’s acquisition, technology and logistics (AT&L) organization.

The 2017 National Defense Authorization Act instructed the DoD to break up AT&L and replace that undersecretary position with two new ones, including Griffin’s post as undersecretary for research and engineering post, to develop future technologies; and an undersecretary for acquisition and sustainment, held by Ellen M. Lord, who has day-to-day focus on existing defense systems.

In his role, Griffin is responsible for the research, development, and prototyping activities across the Department of Defense enterprise and is mandated with ensuring technological superiority for the DoD, according to his U.S. DoD biography. Griffin oversees the Missile Defense Agency, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, the Strategic Capabilities Office, Defense Innovation Unit Experimental, the DoD Laboratory enterprise, and the undersecretariat staff focused on developing advanced technology and capability for the U.S. military.

During his career, Griffin was deputy for technology in the Reagan-era Strategic Defense Initiative Office and served as NASA administrator under President George W. Bush. He was also president and chief operating officer of In-Q-Tel, the nonprofit venture capital firm created and funded by the CIA.

He served as Space Department Head at the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory and was the King-McDonald Eminent Scholar and professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering at UAH from 2009-2012 before serving as a consultant to the military defense community.

 

Madison Chamber Slays a Few Dragons with Annual Business Expo & Kids Day

The 2018 Madison Business and Kids Expo had a Dragons and Castles theme.

MADISON — Kings, queens, princes and princesses of all ages descended on the Madison Chamber of Commerce’s Business Expo and Kids Day 2018 Saturday at the Hogan Family YMCA.

With this year’s theme “Dragons & Castles!”, it felt more like a community carnival than a business event, although more than 60 businesses showcased their products and services. They were surrounded by face and rock painting, an inflatable bouncy house, balloon animals,  courtyard games with prizes, and a dunking booth targeting Madison City dignitaries.

Gold sponsors set up their castles in the rotunda where they gave out candy, face and clothing stickers, and provided paper crowns and shields for the kids to color themselves.

It was the first year exhibiting at the Expo for Madison’s new Integrity Family Care.

“We are doing free blood pressure screenings and introducing people to our Meet K mobile app where you can chat about your symptoms and get faster family care,” said Integrity’s Lacey Jackson.

Both Alexander Martial Arts and Jeong’s Yong-In Martial Arts put on their annual demonstrations, but the Expo expanded its theatrical performances this year with a Madison City Community Orchestra performance and a skit performed by Fantasy Playhouse Children’s Theater in the forecourt.

“Community involvement is at the heart of what we do,” said Emily Bonomo, marketing coordinator for the Lee Company. “It is family-friendly event where we can bring our own kids to work!”

Matt Curtis Real Estate created their own head-in-the-hole poster board, so kids could get a picture of themselves as a knight in shining armor.

“We love coming out to community events,to mix and mingle with the community and being able to show them what we do,” said Diana Hughes, social media manager at Matt Curtis Real Estate, one of the Expo’s long-time sponsors.
“This has been fun for us. We have spent the last couple of days as a team working on the castle and getting everything ready to bring with us.”

Out in the parking lot, HEMSI and Madison Fire & Rescue offered tours of a fire truck and an ambulance, while SARTEC brought out highly-trained rescue dogs to interact with the attendees.

There was no shortage of munchies as food trucks served everything from ice cream and snow cones to barbecue.

There were a couple of baseball games in play, and a Dunk Tank fundraiser with proceeds going to the Hogan YMCA’s 2018 Changing Lives Annual Giving Campaign. On the dunking seat were WDRM and WTAK radio hosts Josie Lane and Johnny Maze; Madison Fire Chief David Bailey, and Rainbow Elementary School Principal, Brian Givens.

“It is all about community for us,” said an IberiaBank representative in the doorway of an elaborately decorated castle façade, handing out candy and face stickers. “We have been attending the Expo for many years and every year it gets bigger and better for everyone.”

“Our goal is to unite all public and private interests to support those activities that are broader than any single business or industry,” said Chamber Executive Director, Pam Honeycutt. “The Madison Chamber of Commerce cannot succeed without its valued members, and we work hard to help our members stay involved, connected and informed through events like the Business Expo and Kids Day.

Planes, drones, special missions aircraft on display at Sierra Nevada Industry Day

MERIDIANVILLE — A cost-effective solution for retrofitting old Black Hawk helicopters with the most technologically advanced electronics and equipment was unveiled recently by Sierra Nevada. The event was held during Sierra Nevada’s Industry Day at the company’s facility at the Huntsville Executive Airport.

SNC acquired the older model Air Force UH-60L Black Hawk through Huntsville’s Black Hawk Exchange & Sales Team (BEST) program. They removed the outdated analog gages and Marconi strip radar system and replaced it with an all glass cockpit, a fully certified state-of-the-art digital avionics suite, and mission-specific equipment including an external mounted camera, rescue hoists, and a 200-gallon auxiliary fuel tank. Now known as the Sierra Force Rotary-Wing Aircraft, the newly retrofitted helicopter is valued at an estimated $19 million.

“At the end of the day, each Sierra Force aircraft returns a significant portion of the production cost to the U.S. government,” said Bill Morris, vice president of business development for Sierra Nevada. “We make it possible for the U.S. Air Force to acquire the most cost-effective replacement aircraft available.”

Also, on exhibit was a King Air 350ER Mission Enhancement Kit.

King Air 350ER Mission Enhancement Kit with five-blade propellers that enable the aircraft to climb to 30,000 feet in 17 minutes.

“We bought the standard King Air as a green aircraft,” he said. “… using the Independent Research and Development (IR&D) program to determine what modifications were needed, we created a Mission Enhancement Kit that involves installing a new engine, an electronic braking system, and a light weight battery that removes 20 pounds from the aircraft, while increasing the capacity to fly at airspeeds up to 340 knots.”

Morris said Sierra Nevada replaced the four-blade propeller with five blades, which enable the plane to climb to 30,000 feet in 17 minutes instead of 40 minutes. It mitigates a lot of the noise from the engine so passengers can have a reasonable conversation without headsets.

“On an ordinary 90-degree day at 7,000 feet, you would have only about 30 minutes of fuel available,” said Morris. “With our newly designed kit, you can fly for eight hours under the same conditions – a significant increase for our Army forces who fly very long distances on manned surveillance and intelligence missions.”

The King Air and the SNC Scorpion Aircraft are fully-integrated multi-role special mission aircraft whose configurations include a lightweight interior, LED lighting, an extended nose to accommodate camera and sensors that surveil targets on the ocean up to 200 nautical miles; and a Beyond Line of Sight (BLOS) satellite communications system on top that transmits data in real time to a ground station.

Also on display during Industry Day was a battery-operated surveillance drone. The aircraft is housed in a case with a Unified Ground Control Station, a hand-held controller and manned and unmanned teaming functions.

Powered by software designed by Kutta Technologies, the unmanned aircraft system can be dropped from an aircraft and deployed remotely from ground or air and has autonomous landing capabilities. It has a payload bay and a powerful camera that can see around corners. The drone can be programmed with waypoints or set to loiter and wait for updates from the controller.

 

‘Main Street Alabama’ designation to make South Huntsville a ‘special place’

Main Street Alabama President Mary Helmer

There may be no specified downtown nor an entertainment district per se.

In fact, South Huntsville’s “main street” is a four-lane divided highway that carries a U.S. route designation.

But, the area that stretches from roughly south of Governors to drive to the Tennessee River is a Main Street Alabama community.

“I couldn’t be more thrilled to work with you guys,” Mary Helmer, Main Street Alabama president and state coordinator, said at a news conference Tuesday at the Doubletree Suites. “You’ll know when you arrive, you’re in a special place.”

Helmer said the work will start in early August when a resource team visits to develop a transformation strategy. The team includes Helmer and a group of national experts and the entire process will take place “over the next two or three years,” she said.

Huntsville Mayor Tommy Battle

South Huntsville Business Association President Jerry Cargile

Mayor Tommy Battle said a key to the transformation is the completion of the Parkway overpasses at Byrd Spring Road and Logan Drive/Lily Flagg Road – which he called “disruptive construction.”

“When the Parkway is opened, it bring the market to here,” he said. “All of a sudden, within a 10-minute drive, you have 200,000 people.”

Jerry Cargile, president of the South Huntsville Business Association, is looking forward to the economic growth the “Main Street Alabama” label will bring to the community.

“The journey begins today,” he said. “From a surviving district to one that is thriving.”

 

Madison ballpark: They haven’t built it, but hundreds did come

MADISON – If the line of cars on Zierdt Road and the hundreds of people who showed up for a groundbreaking ceremony were any indication, baseball has definitely returned to North Alabama.

Close to 1,000 future fans of the yet-t0-be-named minor league baseball team turned out Saturday as BallCorps Inc. and the city of Madison broke ground for a $46 million baseball/multi-use facility. Fans received commemorative baseballs as well as free hot dogs and soft drinks.

The official groundbreaking ceremony for the new Madison baseball facility was held Saturday. Photo by Marianne Higgins

The groundbreaking event took place at the site of the facility  – a “barren field,” as Madison Mayor Paul Finley put it – along Interstate 565 and Zierdt Road.

It is expected to be completed in the fall of 2019 and the complex will include a Hotel Margaritaville. Plans are for the facility to hold other events, outside the 70 regular season baseball games.

“There will be movies in the park, car shows, Scouting events; companies can hold events at the facility,” Finley said. “This venue will make a difference in the quality of life” in Madison.

Ralph Nelson, the managing partner and CEO of BallCorps – the team’s owner, was emotional as he spoke.

“I have just two words: thank you,” he said. “Thank you for inviting us into your community and thank you for welcoming us into your community.”

Then, Nelson, who has been involved in professional baseball for a quarter of a century, paused.

“This is the best day in my baseball career,” he said. “In 675 days (June 19, 2020), we’re going to be playing ball in Madison.”

Artist’s rendering shows Madison’s new baseball stadium with a swimming pool behind the centerfield scoreboard.