IberiaBank Donates $10,000 to Manna House

IberiaBank (www.iberiabank.com) is donating $10,000 to Huntsville’s Manna House. The gift is part of a $500,000 pledge the bank is making to local food banks across the company’s footprint.

To help address this pressing issue, we are pleased to pledge $500,000 to food banks in our communities.

“Manna House has seen a tremendous increase in the number of families needing help with groceries and baby care items during the COVID-19 pandemic.” said Fran Fluhler, Executive Director.  “Many were employed in the hospitality industry or in service-related jobs such as hair salons and barber shops. We also have dental hygienists and medical office support who are temporarily needing help, too.

“We are grateful for a generous community that is willing to help us provide for these families during this time.”

The COVID-19 health care crisis has created hardships for many individuals and families across the country. The loss of jobs, reduction in compensation, and inability to send children to school or daycare have created a growing need to provide access to food in our communities. 

“Everyone’s life has been affected greatly by this pandemic. We all have a responsibility to step up and help our communities where there is a need,” said Eric Sanders, executive vice president and Huntsville Market president.  “I am grateful to the people in our community who make great sacrifices to keep the residents and their families safe and healthy. In addition to making sure the critical nonprofits in our community have the resources they need, IberiaBank and our team members have been working around the clock to make sure our clients’ financial needs are met.

“Together, we will overcome this challenge and be much stronger.”

 

Nonprofit Offers Emergency Loans to Small Businesses Impacted by COVID-19 Outbreak

Huntsville-based nonprofit Neighborhood Concepts Inc. is offering emergency loans to small businesses impacted by the COVID-19 outbreak.

Acting through its subsidiary the North Alabama Revolving Loan Fund, LLC, NCI will offer working capital loans up to $25,000 to help small businesses cover operating expenses in instances where their monthly income is insufficient to cover their monthly obligations due to circumstances related to COVID-19.

Since 2013, NCI has been offering loans to small businesses in North Alabama that are not ready for traditional financing. Many of the businesses are food-related or others that lack sufficient capital to weather any disruptions.

“We are working with our existing borrowers to offer modifications and deferments to help them ride out the storm but wanted to do more to help meet the needs of local businesses in our area,” said NCI Executive Director Mary Ellen Judah.  In response to this need, NCI’s board of directors acted quickly to authorize the $25,000 emergency line of credit product.

Small businesses in North Alabama who have been impacted by recent closures or other COVID-19 disruptions may apply for up to $25,000 to fund operating expenses.  The loans will be structured as a non-revolving six-month line of credit at a fixed rate of 5 percent.

“Borrowers must have been in business for at least 12 months and be able to meet certain other eligibility requirements, but our intent is to streamline the application process so we can get the funds in the hands of qualifying businesses relatively quickly,” said NCI Loan Fund Manager John Thornton.

NCI plans to have an electronic application available on its website this week.  Until then, e-mail jthornton@neighborhoodconcepts.org or call 256-534-0075, ext. 404.

 

The Catalyst Center Going Remote; Providing Updates for Small Businesses

A Statement from The Catalyst

Like all of you, we have been closely monitoring the updates and impacts of the COVID-19 virus. We wanted to let you know that we will be operating remotely in the upcoming weeks in hopes of reducing the spread of this virus. We have been preparing for this over the past week to ensure that our clients will continue to receive prompt services.
Small businesses are a vital part of the U.S. economy. With the recent news and concerns of the coronavirus (COVID-19), The Catalyst is sharing the latest business resources, assistance and guidance. Please read the following important update to The Catalyst operations now in effect.
  • Workshops. Our workshops may be postponed or held online. If you have registered for an event, you will be notified directly on whether the event is being postposed or if there is an online option. For any questions please contact us at info@catalystcenter.org.
  • Coaching Sessions. Coaches are available to participate in remote coaching sessions via phone, email and video. This slow-down may be the perfect opportunity for you to fit in some personal development or business coaching! Please contact us at 256 428-8190 or info@catalystcenter.org or if you would like to schedule a coaching session.
  • SBA Guidance & Assistance for Small Businesses. The Small Business Administration (SBA) has posted information regarding loan programs and guidance for businesses: Guidance for Businesses and Employers to Plan and Respond to Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19)
  • CDC Guidance & Prevention Protocols for Businesses. The Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) has issued COVID-19 guidance for businesses and is updating them as new developments occur.
Please refer to the following links for the most up-to-date information about COVID-19:
The health of small business owners, their employees and our network of volunteers remain our top priority.
The Catalyst is committed to providing the best services we can during this difficult time. We will keep you updated as resources and guidance become available.
Joanne Randolph
President & CEO

The “Power of the Purse” Big Reveal: A Glimpse of Glamour before the Girls, Inc. Fundraiser

If you’re looking for that “one-of-a-kind” designer purse, then look no further than Girls, Inc.

Uniquely designed handbags show off their “purse-onality.” (Photo/Steve Babin)

To generate enthusiasm for the “Power of the Purse” fundraiser, members of the Girls, Inc., board and staff provided a sneak preview of six purses to be auctioned.

The “big reveal” was all that and then some: the black veils covering the purses were simultaneously lifted; revealing the glam-bags, each with its unique personality. Or, shall we say, “Purse-onality?”

“There’s so many people involved, it’s amazing,” said Patricia Lloyd, the public relations chair for the event and the public relations coordinator for Redstone Federal Credit Union. “Redstone has been a supporter of Girls, Inc., for decades and it’s no surprise that we were one of the first to say ‘yes’ to ‘Power of the Purse’.”

A dedicated group of 18 people created the six one-of-a-kind designer bags, all filled with an assortment of “experience” gifts. The purses will be auctioned to help raise funds for Girls, Inc. Here’s the formula for success: six girls, six designers, and six local “Purse-O-nalities.” The purses, “Purse-O-Nalities” and the designers are:

The beautiful purses will be auctioned for the Girls, Inc., fundraiser. (Photo/Steve Babin)

“Midnight Sensation”- Pammie Jimmar, Huntsville/Madison County Chamber of Commerce; Willette Battle, Fit2BTied Couture

“Poppy Love”- Julie Lockwood, Van Valkenburgh/Wilkinson; Jeannie Vereen, Mill Village Wool

“Forget Me Not”- Randy Roper, Randy Roper Interiors; Ellena Smith, Alabama Fashion Alliance

“Forever Young”- Dr. Hayley DeGraaff, Advanced Life Clinic; Jessica Burger, Silver Screen Couture

“Girls Just Wanna Have Fun”- Dr. Pat Sims, J.F. Drake State Community; Technical College and Holli Kai, Kai’s Closet

“School Daze”- Abbiegail Hugine, Alabama A&M University; Denise Onwere, Denise Onwere Gallery

The event is March 19 at the Westin. Doors will open at 5 p.m. with the POP-Up Boutique at 5:15.

The purses will be modeled at 6:15 with the auction to follow.

For information, visit http://www.girlsinc-huntsville.org/

 

Joanne Randolph Cited as Champion at Annual Entrepreneur Awards

Joanne Randolph has been known to champion entrepreneurs in this area.

Joanne Randolph is honored with Champion Award now named after her. (Photo/Steve Babin)

Now, she can officially be known as the champion after receiving the Entrepreneur Champion of the Year Award at the fifth annual Entrepreneur Awards ceremony and luncheon.

Randolph, the founder and CEO of The Catalyst Center, has been at the forefront of entrepreneurship and small business ownership while leading the Women’s Business Center of North Alabama and The Catalyst Center.

“I have loved working with entrepreneurs over the last 25 or so years,” said Randolph. “Many of you are in this room. I’ve celebrated with you when good things happened and I was saddened when they didn’t.

“We learn so much more from our failures; which is why many very successful entrepreneurs have a failure or two under their belt.”

Randolph planned to retire in 2019 but The Catalyst board appealed to her to stay on, for just one more year.

“Joanne has been with The Catalyst, formerly the Women’s Business Center of North Alabama, when we were just an idea,” said Leigh Christian, project manager for TechRich at the Catalyst. “She has led our organization for 20 years and has coached, counseled, and championed hundreds – maybe thousands – of entrepreneurs through the years. The Catalyst staff and Board of Directors chose this year to honor Joanne as not only the Entrepreneur Champion of the Year for 2020, but of all time.

“In honor of this, we are renaming the award the Joanne Randolph Entrepreneur Champion Award.”

The award was the grand finale to the event at The Stone Center and wrapped up this year’s Innovate Huntsville Week.

Kevin Hoey, Chairman of the Board of the Catalyst, provided opening remarks and Kenny Anderson, the Multicultural Affairs Officer for the City of Huntsville, served as the emcee.

Here are the 2020 winners of the Entrepreneurial Awards:

YOUTH ENTREPRENEUR OF THE YEAR – Caleb Wortham, owner of Caleb’s Cookie Cutters.

This award is given to a school-aged entrepreneur who started their entrepreneurial journey at a young age and is working toward their dream.

When Caleb was in the first grade, he became fascinated with design and technology after listening to a TED Talk on 3-D printing. He was so inspired, he asked his parents for a 3-D printer for Christmas, along with saving up his own money to help them purchase the printer. Enrolling in Mindgear Lab and Endeavor Learning Lab, Caleb learned everything he could about 3-D printing technology.

Caleb’s older brother Joshua started Peaceful Pastries when Caleb was 10. Helping out with the bakery, Caleb soon realized that cookie cutters can be costly. Additionally, Joshua often received unique cookie orders that often required special shapes. To meet the needs of his brother’s successful business venture, Caleb collaborated with Joshua to become Peaceful Pastries and Sweets Bakery largest custom cookie cutter supplier.

EMERGING ENTREPRENEUR OF THE YEAR – Chanda Davis, founder and owner of Chanda Davis Real Estate and Superior School of Real Estate by Chanda.

The Catalyst Entrepreneurs of the Year. (Photo/Steve Babin)

This award is given to an entrepreneur that’s been in business for less than 3 years and has a proven track record for sustainability with room for growth.

After leaving a successful career as an educator, Davis entered the world of real estate. After 3 years of being a full-time agent and two years of teaching real estate classes, Davis decided to establish her own company. Along with Chanda Davis Real Estate, a flourishing real estate company with over 60 agents, Davis’ Superior School of Real Estate by Chanda boasts one of the highest passing rates in the state.

CREATIVE ENTREPRENEUR OF THE YEAR – Lady Vowell Smith, owner and founder of The Snail on the Wall bookstore.

This award goes to an entrepreneurial venture that focuses on the retail, arts, entertainment, or culinary industry and has a proven track record for sustainability.

As a book aficionado with a Ph.D. in literature, Smith is no stranger to books. Smith felt there was a lack of small independent bookstores North Alabama —a place where readers and authors could meet and share ideas.

Beginning with a pop-up store at Randolph’s Under the Christmas Tree market in 2017, she has formed a large, loyal customer base by recommending books through social media. Her store has hosted pop-up bookstores at local businesses and has brought bestselling authors to Huntsville for events. Says Smith, “The spirit of entrepreneurship is embracing experiments and new ideas, and when local businesses brainstorm together, it benefits the community as a whole.”

NONPROFIT ENTREPRENEUR OF THE YEAR – Anne Caldwell, CEO of Greater Huntsville Humane Society.

The Nonprofit Entrepreneur of the year is a new category for 2020. Although different than for-profit ventures, nonprofit leaders still require an entrepreneurial spirit to grow and develop their organizations.

Caldwell’s life and career path changed forever six years ago, when she adopted Randy, a terrified little Chihuahua from Huntsville Animal Services. Caldwell said she was astonished by the problem of overcrowding at the shelters and became involved with several animal welfare organizations before taking on her role as CEO at the Greater Huntsville Humane Society last year.

Through a variety of innovative programming, Caldwell has increased the number of adoptions, lowered length of stays and return rates, in addition to cutting costs and raising donations.

FEMALE ENTREPRENEUR OF THE YEAR – Amber Yerkey James, founder and CEO of New Beginnings Family Law.

This award is given to an outstanding female entrepreneur in the North Alabama Region. The winner of this award will be submitted to the Small Business Administration’s Small Business of the Year Award National Award by the Women’s Business Center.

In 2012, almost six years after starting her own law practice James realized that she wanted to do something more than just process divorce and custody cases, she wanted to make a difference in the lives of her clients and in her community.

New Beginnings Family Law works with clients  to plan for life following divorce and other family law situations. The goal is for clients to have the knowledge, skills, and insight to truly have a new beginning.

VETERAN ENTREPRENEUR OF THE YEAR – Kris McGuire, founder and CEO of Victory Solutions.

This award is given to an outstanding military-veteran entrepreneur in the North Alabama Region.

A packed house at the Stone Center was on hand for the fifth annual Entrepreneur Awards. (Photo/Steve Babin)

As one of the first women assigned to the Air Force Special Weapons Center’s maintenance squadron at Kirtland Air Force Base during the Vietnam War, McGuire understood the importance of supplying the military with effective systems and supplying troops with the right tools. In 2006, with this experience in mind, McGuire started Victory Solutions to help save the lives of soldiers.

McGuire’s success has resulted in having some 130 employees and subcontractors working on projects ranging from unmanned aerial vehicles to missile defense to missions to the moon. She attributes this success to a continued focus on supporting fellow veterans, women, and other small businesses.

ENTREPRENEUR OF THE YEAR – Sandra Brazelton, president and CEO of Advanced Innovative Management Solutions

Awarded to an entrepreneur who has been in business for over three years and has a proven track record for sustainability, strategic direction, future growth and community involvement.

Brazelton’s journey has been one of overcoming obstacles, including gender and racial barriers. While working as an engineer, Brazelton started a real estate business. When buying her first two houses, she was steered to low-income areas. This experience fueled her mission to build a business that would educate, empower, and help others while building generational wealth.

Her goal is to leave a legacy in business and in character that would make her children proud. Her daughter, Alex, is also her business partner, helping to create a legacy.

PEOPLE’S CHOICE ENTREPRENEUR OF THE YEAR – Jerry “JD” White, owner and president of JD Productions, Inc.

Al.com hosted a link on social media for this award. The winner was selected by voters.

After reading books on the topic, coupled with hands-on experience by working the audio/visuals at a variety of events, White finely honed his skills. White said collaboration has been lost in the entertainment industry; he believes that JD Productions will revitalize the entertainment industry, making it a better place to do business.

Coming from a variety of backgrounds and business ventures, there were 68 finalists competing for the nine categories. These entrepreneurs represented 11 communities and 21 ZIP codes in North Alabama. 46 were women, 22 were men.

Combined, they provide jobs for 2,269 employees; in 2019, they accounted for more than $270 million in economic development dollars across North Alabama.

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.

For the Love of Pets, Greater Huntsville Humane Society Mission is Clear

The Greater Huntsville Humane Society dedicates itself to furthering the humane care and treatment of animals, by providing adoption services for unwanted and homeless animals.

The Greater Huntsville Humane Society relies on a small staff and dozens of volunteers. (Photo/ Steve Babin)

What many people don’t realize is the size of the Humane Society’s footprint in the Huntsville-Madison County community.

Now in its 51st year, the Humane Society continues to grow under the leadership of new CEO Anne Caldwell.

What the public also may not know: the Greater Huntsville Humane Society is funded entirely by donations and grants; the organization does not receive any government funding. With a small staff and more than 200 volunteers, the Humane Society is run on a shoestring budget.

The organization’s best-known fundraiser is the annual Dog Ball, now in its 31st year.

This year’s event will be Feb. 8 at the Von Braun Center South Hall. Over the years, the Dog Ball has continued to grow and each years’ clever theme with accompanying artwork seems to outdo previous years. This year’s theme will be “Bark Avenue.”

This year’s Dog Ball theme is “Bark Avenue.” (Photo/Steve Babin)

The money raised goes toward providing medical care and finding homes for shelter animals.

“The Dog Ball helps provide critical funding that enables GHHS to offer such programs and services as healthcare and food to low-income households, humane education and outreach, and a safe place for homeless pets to find their forever homes,” said Caldwell. “This fun-filled, elegant evening is consistently our largest fundraiser – even after all these years!”

The Humane Society’s Thrift Store has been recently updated to better serve its customers.

“The thrift store is our bread and butter,” said Caldwell. “Last year, it brought in over $200,000.”

The store sells a wide assortment of items; its mission is to sell donated goods and provide funds in support of the shelter animals. In fact, 100 percent of every sale goes to support the Humane Society’s mission.

In addition to caring for the needs of the shelter animals, there are several programs designed to help the local community and their pets.

The Greater Huntsville Humane Society was named the Nonprofit of the Year for 2019. (Photo/Steve Babin)

The King’s Community Kitchen provides low-income pet owners with food for their dogs and cats. In 2018, over 35,000 pounds of pet food was distributed to area families in need.

In partnership with the Humane Society, Rocket City Mobile Vet offers Pet Wellness Clinics on the second Saturday of each month. These discounted services are provided to pet owners with a household income below $35,000. Clinics offer wellness exams, annual vaccinations, heartworm and flea/tick preventative and microchipping, if needed.

Its newest community program is Huntsville Hounds on Transport (HHOT Dogz). Last spring, the Humane Society began monthly treks to the Humane Society of Washington County, Md., and to the Humane Rescue Alliance in Washington, D.C.

Due to shelter overpopulation here in the South, many independent agencies have been transporting shelter animals to the Northeast, where spaying and neutering of pets is more stringently enforced, resulting in fewer adoptable animals in the northern shelters. The HHOT Dogz program helps GHHS save the lives of more shelter animals by giving them a better opportunity for a loving home elsewhere.

The Paws for Reading program was designed to enrich the lives of shelter animals while also helping children develop sound reading skills.

Children ages 6- 15 years old can participate if accompanied by a parent; it’s also open to volunteers over 16. Paws for Reading is a win-win for the children and shelter animals alike. It helps the animals develop socialization skills, which will help them become more comfortable with people. Those people skills are critical for a shelter animal to be adoptable.

The Humane Society is also a partner of Pets for Patriots, a national service that pairs veterans and adoptable animals. The goal is to make the benefits of shelter pet adoption a reality for military personnel, ensuring many years of friendship, companionship and joy with their honorably adopted dog or cat.

For more information, visit https://ghhs.org/