Navistar Revving Up Engine Production in Huntsville with $125 Million Expansion

The shovels dug deeply into wet but fertile ground as Navistar officially broke ground this week on a 50-acre, $125 million expansion of its manufacturing facilities in the Jetplex Industrial Park in Huntsville.

Ground was broken for the ground-breaking $125 million Navistar expansion. (Photo/Kimberly Ballard)

The build-out will drive Navistar’s total Huntsville footprint to 80 acres and add 110,000 square feet to its 300,000 square-foot plant. It will also add 145 skilled manufacturing jobs to build next-generation, big-bore powertrains.

“Over the past two decades, the city of Huntsville has been a valuable partner and we are eager to expand our presence here,” said Persio Lisboa, executive vice president and chief operating officer, Navistar. “The local skilled workforce has proudly supported the implementation of our product strategy, and we look forward to incorporating some of the most advanced manufacturing standards into our Navistar Diesel of Alabama facility to continue to bring best-in-class products to the market.”

Huntsville Mayor Tommy Battle tied Navistar’s truck engine production here to the rocket engines under development just a few miles away’

“Our skilled manufacturing workforce is ready to take on the production of Navistar’s global powertrain, adding capacity to Huntsville’s reputation as the ‘propulsion capital’ of the world,” he said. “Whether it’s across the country or across the universe, Huntsville gets you there.”

Already using the latest state-of-the-art technology, the company will implement a “manufacturing 4.0 strategy” in the plant.

Next-level software and assembly lines will drive everything from receiving components to delivery to the customers, revving up production while giving them more control over that production.

Navistar’s A26 engine is built in Huntsville. (Photo/Kimberly Ballard)

Navistar’s principal engine built in Huntsville is the International A26 – a 12.4-liter big-bore engine. The current 300,000 square feet of manufacturing space is dedicated to the A26 engine.

Navistar will use the additional space to produce next-generation big-bore powertrains developed with its global alliance partner Traton.

According to Brandon Tucker, Director of Operations, Navistar has built more than 1 million engines in Huntsville over the past 20 years.

“It’s easy to say one million engines, but if you step back and think about that – it’s a lot of engines,” he said. “It’s a lot of parts. It’s a lot of overtime. It’s a lot of work fixing problems. It’s a lot of hard work.

“Engines are what makes us great, it’s what gives us the competitive advantage … so this is really about a big job, well done.”

Tucker said it is also about business continuation.

“It’s a line in the sand, a jumping off point for big things to come,” he said. “Like any industry, we ride the tide of ebb and flow … but today it is time to focus on the future.”

He said things will move quickly on the new building with center office construction starting in March, site work and grading should begin by spring with core construction expected to start by midsummer. It is slated for completion the first half of 2023.

“Jetplex Industrial Park at Huntsville International Airport is proud to be home to Navistar,” said Rick Tucker, CEO of the Port of Huntsville. “Having been a corporate partner of theirs for over two decades, it means a lot to us that they would desire to continue to grow both the facility and their relationship with us.

“I’m certain that we will all work together to continue to propel Alabama forward.”

HudsonAlpha Researchers Work to Improve Cotton Through Genetics

Is there anything more Huntsville than the combination of cotton and technology?

To that end, researchers at the HudsonAlpha Institute for Biotechnology have set out to make a better cotton through a series of research collaborations, grants and projects. These grants include sequencing “elite” cotton strains, sending cotton to space and conversations between students and astronauts.

Genetics could transform the ways cotton and its uses are considered.

Scientists are studying colored cotton straight from the plant, which would reduce the environmental footprint of dye use. Fire retardant cotton would come with major implications for consumer safety.

Cotton might even be bred with natural antimicrobial compounds, which could revolutionize the medical industry by providing hospitals with linens and bandages that have antibacterial properties.

With such visions, it’s easy to see why researchers have focused in on cotton for genetically guided improvement. A series of grants will allow HudsonAlpha researchers at the HudsonAlpha Genome Sequencing Center (HGSC) to develop the cotton of tomorrow.

One project HudsonAlpha scientists with the HudsonAlpha Genome Sequencing Center will work on has them sending cotton to space. The idea is that cultivating cotton in zero gravity may alter the genetics or epigenetics of transformation, giving scientists a comparison to cotton cultivated on earth.

The HGSC provides high-quality whole genome sequencing and analysis in agriculture, having created more than half of all the high-quality reference genomes in circulation.

The project team, led by Jeremy Schmutz, will sequence the earth-grown samples and the samples that return from space, searching for differences on the genetic level. The effort is part of a collaboration with Dr. Christopher A. Saski of Clemson University, funded by Target and the Center for the Advancement of Science in Space (CASIS).

However, it’s not the only cotton-based project on the radar for the HGSC.

HudsonAlpha researchers are setting out to make a better cotton through a series of research collaborations, grants and projects.

Schmutz is also heading a project funded by Cotton Inc. that will compare elite cotton lines with a historical one. Breeders develop “elite lines” that they use as the basis for their crops, often because they are well adapted to the climate they’re grown in, particularly disease resistant or have some desirable traits.

By comparing elite lines to a historical cotton reference genome, researchers hope to unveil the parts of the cotton genome that make the elite lines so desirable, making them easier to replicate and improve.

As far as education is concerned, Dr. Neil Lamb, vice president of Educational Outreach, will lead a student experience for a diverse group of students from local high schools. The Educational Outreach team will cover the basics of epigenetics, information about cotton and the specific details of the research project.

Students will have an opportunity to ask questions of researchers from HudsonAlpha and Clemson.

Lamb is also working with NASA to explore the possibility of linking students to the astronauts on the International Space Station for a conversation about how the experiments are carried out in space.

 

 

Rocket City Trash Pandas Unveil Promotions Calendar

MADISON — The Rocket City Trash Pandas have released their Inaugural Season promotions calendar featuring fireworks, theme nights, bobblehead giveaways and “Mutt Mondays.”

“We are working non-stop to create a memorable fan experience every time we open the gates at Toyota Field,” said Lindsey Knupp, Vice President of Marketing, Promotions and Entertainment. “Promotions and giveaways are the first step to an unforgettable night at the ballpark.

“We are grateful to our sponsors, without whom many of these great nights for our fans would be possible.”

Promotions start in earnest Opening Night with post-game fireworks sponsored by Toyota. The season features fireworks after every Thursday and Saturday home game – including an extravagant July 3rd Independence Day celebration.

In a special nod to the legacy of the Huntsville Stars, the Trash Pandas are hosting Stars Throwback Night May 22. The team will be wearing special Huntsville Stars uniforms when the Biloxi Shuckers – the former Huntsville Stars franchise – visit Toyota Field.

Bobbleheads, among the most popular giveaways in baseball, are also in the Trash Pandas lineup. On April 28, the first 1,500 fans 14 and under will receive a Sprocket Trash Can bobblehead. On May 17, Sprocket Jersey bobbleheads will also be given to the first 1,500 fans 14 and under.

Every Monday is Mutt Monday with the first 500 dogs receiving a special gift.  Dogs will be permitted at Toyota Field in designated “dog zones.” Dogs will not be permitted in the general seating bowl.

Fridays are Free Shirt Fridays with the first 2,000 fans ages 15 and older to receive a complimentary T-shirt.
Sunday may be a day of rest but not for younger fans: All kids can run the bases after every Sunday home game.

The Trash Pandas, led by manager Jay Bell, open their Southern League home schedule April 15 at Toyota Field in Madison.

Preliminary Promotional Calendar (subject to changes and additions)
April 15, 6:35 p.m., Opening Night Fireworks Spectacular, sponsored by Toyota
April 16, 6:35 p.m., Seat cushions, first 4,000 fans 15-over, sponsored by Crestwood Medical
April 17, 7:05 p.m., College Night/Free Shirt Friday, first 2,000 fans 15-over, sponsored by Calhoun Community College
April 18, 6:05 p.m., Fireworks, sponsored by WOW!/2020 Magnet Schedule, first 5,000 fans
April 19, 2:05 p.m., Athletic socks, first 1,500 kids 14-under, sponsored by Bill Penney Toyota
April 25, 6:05 p.m., Fireworks

The Trash Pandas will host Huntsville Stars Throwback Night on May 22.

April 26, 2:05 p.m., The Bright Side Sports Dog Performance
April 27, 6:35 p.m., Mutt Monday/Dog leashes, first 500 dogs, sponsored by Leidos
April 28, 6:35 p.m., Sprocket Trash Can Bobblehead, first 1,500 kids 14-under, sponsored by Kirkland’s Pest Control
April 29, 12:05 p.m., Class Field Trip/Education Day
May 6, 6:35 p.m., Dance Night
May 7, 6:35 p.m., Fireworks
May 8, 7:05 p.m., Free Shirt Friday, first 2,000 fans 15-over
May 9, 6:05 p.m., “Star Wars” Night/” Star Wars” Jersey Auction/Fireworks
May 10, 2:05 p.m., Mother’s Day/Wine Glass giveaway, 2,000 women 15-over/Mother’s Day Cap Raffle
May 16, 6:05 p.m., Armed Forces Day/Armed Forces Jersey Auction/Fireworks
May 17, 2:05 p.m., Sprocket Jersey Bobblehead, 1,500 kids 14-under, sponsored by Lexus
May 18, 6:35 p.m., Mutt Monday/Dog Bowls, first 500 dogs
May 19, 6:35 p.m., International Day/Mini Flags, sponsored by GlobalTies Alabama
May 21, 6:35 p.m., Fireworks, sponsored by Inline Electric Supply
May 22, 7:05 p.m., Huntsville Stars Throwback/Throwback Jersey Auction/Free Shirt Friday, first 2,000 fans 15over
May 23, 6:05 p.m., Scout Sleepover/Fireworks
May 25, 12:05 p.m., Memorial Day/Military Cap, first 2,000 fans 15-over, sponsored by WOW!
June 1, 6:35 p.m., Mutt Monday/Dog Bandannas, first 500 dogs
June 2, 6:35 p.m., Stadium Replica, first 4,000 fans 15-over, sponsored by Toyota
June 4, 6:35 p.m., Fireworks

June 5, 7:05 p.m., LGBQT Night/Free Shirt Friday, first 2,000 fans 15-over
June 17, 6:35 p.m., Soccer Night
June 18, 6:35 p.m., Fireworks

The Trash Pandas are hosting a Third of July Fireworks Spectacular.

June 19, 7:05 p.m., Free Shirt Friday, first 2,000 fans 15-over
June 20, 6:05 p.m., Fireworks, sponsored by Budweiser
June 21, 2:05 p.m., Father’s Day/Adult Cap/Father’s Day Cap Raffle, first 2,000 men 15-over
June 30, 6:35 p.m., Faith and Family Night
July 2, 6:35 p.m., Fireworks, sponsored by Lexus
July 3, 7:05 p.m., Third of July Fireworks Spectacular/Patriotic Jersey Raffle/Patriotic Cap Raffle
July 10, 7:05 p.m., Free Shirt Friday, first 2,000 fans 15-over
July 11, 6:05 p.m., Fireworks
July 13, 6:05 p.m., Mutt Monday/Dog Chew Toy, first 500 dogs
July 14, 12:05 p.m., Camp Day
July 23, 6:35 p.m., Fireworks
July 24, 7:05 p.m., Free Shirt Friday, first 2,000 fans 15-over
July 25, 6:05 p.m., Christmas in July/Fireworks
July 26, 5:05 p.m., Kids Club Parade
Aug. 6, 6:35 p.m., Fireworks
Aug. 7, 7:05 p.m., Free Shirt Friday, first 2,000 fans 15-over
Aug. 8, 6:05 p.m., Fireworks
Aug. 10, 6:35 p.m., Mutt Monday
Aug. 13, 6:35 p.m., Fireworks
Aug. 14, 7:05 p.m., Superhero Night/Superhero Jersey Auction/Free Shirt Friday, first 2,000 fans 15-over
Aug. 15, 6:05 p.m., Fireworks
Aug. 24, 6:35 p.m., Mutt Monday
Aug. 26, 6:35 p.m., Football & Cheer Day
Aug. 27, 6:35 p.m., Fireworks
Sept. 3, 6:35 p.m., Fireworks
Sept. 4, 7:05 p.m., Havoc Hockey Night/Havoc Free Shirt Friday, first 2,000 fans 15-over
Sept. 5, 6:05 p.m., Fireworks
Sept. 7, 12:05 p.m., Fan Appreciation Day/2021 Magnet Schedule, first 5,000 fans

Rocket City Trash Pandas Announce Single-Game Ticket Sales Date

MADISON — The Rocket City Trash Pandas have announced that individual game tickets – including Opening Night – will go on sale to the general public March 14 and March 15 at the Toyota Field box office only. Online sales of single game tickets will be offered beginning March 16.

Grand Opening Weekend for the ticket office and The Junkyard Team Store will take place from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. March 14; and, noon to 6 p.m. March 15. The opening of The Junkyard will offer numerous Inaugural Season merchandise items for the first time.

“We can now answer the number one question Trash Pandas fans have asked for more than a year: ‘When do single-game tickets go on sale?’,” said President and CEO, Ralph Nelson, “We appreciate the patience, enthusiasm and support our fanbase has shown throughout this journey and we are excited that this day is finally upon us.

“Like all Trash Pandas events leading to Opening Day, this will be a party – all weekend long.”

Aside from the chance to purchase tickets, the weekend will feature live music, family entertainment, and allow fans to experience Toyota Field for the first time. Ticket purchasers will have the opportunity to sit in their seats, as the concourse level will be open to the public.
Ticket prices are: Box seats: $16 in advance; $18 day of game; Reserved seats: $14 in advance, $16 day of game; General admission (standing room, Budweiser Berm and Inline Electric Rock Porch): – $8; Standing room with SportsMED Stadium Club access: $25. Children 2 and under are admitted free.

Ticket purchases are limited to 12 per game for each customer. For those desiring to purchase more than 12 seats for a game, they should contact the Trash Pandas Group Sales Department at (256) 325-1549.

Season tickets, 23- game Mini-Plans and group outings are on sale now. Call (256) 325-1546 to order; or, visit www.trashpandasbaseball.com.

The Toyota Field Opening Day is April 15 against the Mississippi Braves at 6:35 pm.

HudsonAlpha Launches Biotech Mentoring Program for Entrepreneurs

The HudsonAlpha Institute for Biotechnology has launched a mentoring program to help strengthen biotech and life sciences entrepreneurs as business leaders in North Alabama, capitalizing on the wealth of business talent in the region.

The program, called Navigate, was established last fall and is modeled after MIT’s Venture Mentoring Service program which has been mentoring entrepreneurs for more than 20 years.

Through careful, thoughtful and deliberate selection, Navigate matches growing entrepreneurs with teams of c-suite executives, experienced entrepreneurs and subject matter experts from North Alabama to provide them a group of confidential and conflict-free advisors.

“HudsonAlpha founders Jim Hudson and Lonnie McMillian were both serial entrepreneurs and mentors to countless entrepreneurs, including some of the Navigate mentors,” said Carter Wells, vice president for economic development at HudsonAlpha and director of Navigate. “Navigate is a way for us to bring the entrepreneurial and mentor spirit that created HudsonAlpha to entrepreneurs looking to grow in the life sciences community.”

Navigate’s first class of mentors includes a who’s-who of business executives, serial entrepreneurs and civic leaders. The current mentors are:

  • Paul Gierow, Founder, GATR Technologies
  • Matthew Parker, PhD, Associate, Maynard Cooper
  • Kevin Gold, Operating Partner, Integrated Openings Solutions
  • Steve Hettinger, Former engineer, manager and public servant
  • Irma Tuder, Founder and CEO, Analytical Services, Inc.
  • Pat Shields, Senior Financial Advisor, Morgan Stanley
  • Gary Bolton, Vice President Global Marketing, Adtran
  • Barry Derrick, Product Manager, Adtran
  • Danny Windham, COO, HudsonAlpha Institute for Biotechnology
  • Peggy Sammon, CEO, GeneCapture
  • Rex Vaughn, President, Madison County Farmers Federation
  • Michelle Stark, Marketing Director, Red Sage Communications
  • Brian Pollock, CEO and Founder, Kailos Genetics
  • Tom Young, CEO Kord Technologies
  • Richard Marsden, Shareholder, Maynard Cooper

“I’ve been involved with HudsonAlpha for a number of years as a board member and ambassador, and I’m excited for the opportunity to bring my experience as an entrepreneur and business leader to the innovative companies at the Institute,” said Irma Tuder, founder of Analytical Services Inc.

After completing its pilot phase, the program will be available to companies across North Alabama. Companies must be involved in biotech or life sciences for consideration. For information, email mentor@hudsonalpha.org.

Progress Bank Celebrates 12th Anniversary

Progress Bank is celebrating its 12th anniversary of serving clients across North and Central Alabama and Destin/Inlet Beach, Fla.

The Huntsville-based bank opened in February 2008 with offices in Huntsville and Decatur. Progress Bank has more than $1.2 billion in total assets and Progress Financial Services has approximately $940 million in assets under management.

Progress Bank provides a variety of commercial banking options, wealth management, and home mortgages along with traditional banking products and services.

“We strive to encourage a culture of exceptional service to our customers, and I am proud to say that our employees continue to impress me each year,” said David Nast, bank president and CEO. “So many of them go above and beyond in trying to meet their goals and our customers’ needs. We are also proud to have many employees who are highly active in our communities through volunteer work and fundraising events throughout the year.”

Progress Bank has two offices in Huntsville along with offices in Madison, Decatur, Florence, Birmingham, Vestavia, Inlet Beach and Destin.

T-H Marine Lands Maurice Sporting Goods Marine Division

Huntsville-based T-H Marine Supplies has acquired First Source, the marine accessory division of Maurice Sporting Goods, one of the largest sporting goods distributors in the United States. First Source will operate as a standalone division of T-H Marine in Fort Myers, Fla.

“We’re thrilled to complete our largest revenue acquisition to date,” said T-H Marine CEO Jeff Huntley. “Our new First Source division will allow T-H Marine to expand into new product categories and continue to grow our product portfolio that we offer to both our OEM and Aftermarket customer bases.

T-H Marine CEO Jeff Huntley

“The First Source expertise also greatly strengthens our capabilities in aftermarket retail and e-commerce channels for our customers. We have built a strong platform for the past 45 years that is rooted in deep relationships with our customers, who depend on us for quality boating and fishing accessories. We look for great acquisitions like First Source that can really help us bring more value to our customers and continue to provide more awesome products for the boating and fishing enthusiasts that love our brands.”

First Source was founded in 2004 as a turn-key direct import source, with deep overseas relationships, that helps to design, manufacture, package, test, and supply companies with marine and paddle sports products. Their expertise is highly valued by their customers, particularly with co-founder Read Samples leading and utilizing his more than 30 years in the marine industry.

“We are blessed to be joining longtime customer T-H Marine, a solid and rapidly growing company that truly knows the marine and fishing accessory markets,” said Read Samples, General Manager of First Source. “T-H will allow our team to expand into more product categories becoming more meaningful to our customers, including more OEM product opportunities. The T-H Marine team shares our passion for bringing awesome, innovative products to market and for really taking care of our customers.”

First Source provides customers access to a broad range of design capabilities, procurement resources, products, packaging vendors, and logistics management services in a single source provider. T-H Marine has been a customer of First Source for many years along with many other manufacturers, distributors and major retailers.

This was T-H Marine’s eighth acquisition in the past decade contributing to its annual growth of 20 percent over that time, Huntley said of the 45-year-old family-owned company.

“We will continue working on more acquisitions and more organic product development to continue growing our stable of brands and our breadth of awesome products,” he said. “We have such great customers who continue to buy and believe in us and our brands … We hope we can keep this up and continue to find great products and brands that are ready to be launched or taken to the next level.”

‘Super Block’ Along University Drive Getting $27 Million Facelift

A welcomed and long-awaited facelift is coming to a stretch of one of Huntsville’s primary thoroughfares.

A 45-acre block off University Drive at Independence Drive and Lancewood Drive will be revitalized in a $27 million acquisition by  Philadelphia-based Penn Capital, an integrated private investment company.

The former GuestHouse Suites are part of the $27 million redevelopment project. (Image provided by Penn Capital)

The company has purchased the former GuestHouse Suites from the Huntsville Hospital Foundation as part of the acquisition. The project includes renovating and redeveloping three properties along University Drive across from the University of Alabama in Huntsville.

In addition to the former GuestHouse Suites at 4020 Independence Drive, Penn Capital is revitalizing the former North Ridge Apartments and the Continental Apartments adjacent to it. The project totals 458 apartments along University Drive and creates a 45-acre “super block” of 546 apartments. It is strategically aimed at revitalizing the surrounding community, which has suffered from blighted conditions over the past 10 years.

According to Penn Capital founder Ed Rogan, the properties fit the company’s investment strategy to invest in Sun Belt markets from Texas to Florida where there is tremendous economic growth.

Penn Capital plans to invest $5 million to redevelop the former GuestHouse Suites at 4020 Independence Drive.

Penn Capital wanted to come into Huntsville, he said, because of the job growth around the new Toyota production plant, and the aerospace and military presence.

“We look for projects in good areas or even areas that have had some distress issues like these three properties,” Rogan said. “A lot of people would have passed on this project because it isn’t visually appealing, but we have a vision where our work revitalizes the community and surrounding neighborhood and improves the standard or living and quality of life for people.”

Just two miles east of the MidCity Huntsville project, the former North Ridge Apartments complex has been renamed Madison Grove. It consists of 105 buildings and 390 apartments, all two-story townhouses.

“The buildings are in good condition, well built in the mid-1960s,” Rogan said. “They have solid foundations and great structures, but it had become known for a lot of crime.

“We came in and secured the premises by putting up a fence and security cameras to keep out trespassers, put in new lighting to light up the grounds, and the police department hired off-duty police officers to patrol the property. Then we began work improving and upgrading the exterior façade and doing some landscaping to give it curb appeal.”

Madison Grove includes 105 buildings and 390 apartments, all two-story townhouses. (Rendering provided by Penn Capital)

Rogan said they are working with Huntsville’s Blue Star Crime Free Multi-Housing Program to help residents, owners and the managers of rental properties to keep drugs and other illegal activity off their property.

“We are also renovating the interiors with all new appliances and the amenities required to take it from what was a D-class property with a lot of crime, deferred maintenance, and poor living conditions, to a safe and attractive Class-A property for middle class families,” he said.

Rogan said the property did not come without some challenges, however.

“Because of the age of the property, the structures are not up to today’s building codes and even the electrical infrastructure needs to be rewired,” he said.

But, they are working with the city to upgrade it.

“We have the same interests in that revitalization will increase the tax base tenfold, increase the quality of people living there, and create a safer living space,” Rogan said.

The former Continental Apartments will be renovated into The Ave. (Image provided by Penn Capital)

Penn Capital is doing the same with the Continental Apartments, which they have renamed The Ave. It is a two-story, 88-unit apartment community consisting of 66 studios and 22 two-bedroom/two-bath apartments.

“The Continental and hotel are vacant, so we have been able to move quickly to replace all the roofs and windows,” Rogan said. “We are doing a complete redevelopment with new exterior facades and landscaped grounds. It will have high quality, Class-A finishes that will attract higher-end tenants.”

He said the Continental is a unique building from the mid-1960s which was built to house visiting generals and high-ranking military officers who were visiting Redstone Arsenal.

He said they are well built with a good strong infrastructure, structural concrete and steel girders in the ceilings that can be used to increase ceiling height and create trendy styles like exposed-beam ceilings. It will become a smart property, fully outfitted with WiFi and a great opportunity for housing students and families.

Penn Capital plans to invest $5 million to redevelop the aging hotel at 4020 Independence Drive. The original extended-stay already has kitchens that will lend themselves well to studio apartments – a good fit for college students.

“The hotel has a 5,000 square-foot lobby on the first floor that we are renovating and putting in an exercise center, leasing office and clubhouse with a new swimming pool, outdoor kitchen and dog park,” Rogan said. “On the second floor, they are putting in a new shared workspace so people living in the surrounding complexes can come there and use the business center.”

Rogan said the work is expected to be completed on all three properties in about 10 to 12 months and a ribbon-cutting for all three is planned in about 18 months.

Huntsville Real Estate Market Ends 2019 on High Note

The Huntsville Real Estate Market set a record pace throughout 2019, ending the year on a high note, according to a report released today.

The Huntsville Area Association of Realtors’ Fourth Quarter Real Estate Economic Report, conducted by the University of Alabama in Huntsville, found sales grew by more than 15 percent compared to the same quarter in 2018, with 1,995 homes sold in the quarter.

“We witnessed major growth in our industry last year, as more choose to make Madison County their home,” said HAAR President Sha Jarboe. “While this is great news for our city and industry, it also presents challenges as inventory reached historic lows in December with less than 1,000 available homes for sale.

“This report reinforces the need for attainable housing in our area and, as community advocates, Realtors stand ready to work with our local builders to make sure they have the skilled labor they need to meet our area’s construction needs. We also look forward to our continued collaboration with local leaders to support sensible laws that support the American dream of homeownership.”

Here are some key takeaways from the report:

  • Prices of homes sold continued to rise significantly from 2018. Median sales price rose 11 percent to $239,643 and average sales price increased 7 percent to $258,014. The price escalation can be seen in the decline in the number of homes sold in the less-than $150,000 homes and significant increases in the $200,000-$250,000 (20.5 percent) and the greater-than-$350,000 range (18.5 percent).
  • Average monthly pending sales rose to 456, up 16.6 percent from the 2018 fourth-quarter level.
  • Inventory of homes available for sale fell to the lowest level since 2001 with only 993 homes listed at year’s end.
  • The average days on market for the quarter was 35 days, down from 38 in the third quarter and from 48 in the fourth quarter 2018. At this level of sales, there was an average of only 1.3 months of supply during the quarter.

For information and to see the full report and other reports, visit haar.realtor.

Flourish: An Entrepreneurial Venture on the Front Line of Marketing and Public Relations

Businesses tend to equate marketing with “koozies, pens and assorted trade show swag.”

“I can’t tell you how many companies we’ve worked with who believe that the only role of a marketing department is to order t-shirts and set up the next tradeshow booth,” said Megan Nivens-Tannett, founder and CEO of Flourish, a marketing and public relations firm based in Huntsville.

“Marketing needs to be very thoughtful, very intentional and very strategic. It needs to be measured. It needs to be validated,” said Nivens-Tannett. “You also need to understand your market – and your competitors – to ensure your tactics will resonate.”

Flourish, founded in March 2018, represents a variety of clients across the Tennessee Valley, providing strategic marketing, public relations and digital media support.

In less than two years, the growth trajectory has skyrocketed for the small business startup.

Last year, Flourish was nominated as an Emerging Business of the Year for the Huntsville/Madison County Chamber of Commerce Small Business Awards.

Today, the four-person firm has more than 15 clients across North Alabama – serving industries such as aerospace and defense, public safety, healthcare, finance, telecommunications, entertainment and music, and health and wellness. Flourish also provides volunteer support for nonprofits in the military and entrepreneur communities.

Nivens-Tannett and her team make it look effortless, but that wasn’t always the case. In fact, life’s biggest setbacks can often challenge one to forge a new path.

After being laid off from her job, Nivens-Tannett was at a loss. As a single mother striking out on her own following a divorce, Nivens-Tannett knew she had to do something.

Her 11-year-old daughter, Madison, suggested, “Why don’t you start your own business?”

Not wanting to let her daughter down, that’s exactly what she did.

“Madison came up with the name and designed the logo,” said Nivens-Tannett. “After getting that first taste of entrepreneurship, it opened my eyes; I never wanted to work for anyone else again.”

And now there are four.

In April 2019, Nivens-Tannett hired account manager Logan Moore; by November, account manager Alex Hendrix and account coordinator Presley Price were added to meet the growth surge. All four are self-professed “Doer of All Things,” which complements their “Work hard, play hard” office culture.

The synergy among the team is dynamic and allows for an opportunity to shine; showcasing each woman’s skills and talents.

“The work culture aligns with our personalities,” said Nivens-Tannett. “Every day is a new adventure and, so far, it’s been a really fun ride.”