South Huntsville Businesses Receive Facade Improvement Grants

There will soon be a new look to some South Huntsville businesses.

Nearly a dozen small businesses will be able to improve their storefronts, facades and even landscaping thanks to Façade Improvement Grants, the South Huntsville Main Business Association announced.

Business owners applied for the grants, sponsored by Redstone Federal Credit Union. The businesses demonstrated how the improvements to their storefronts would affect the overall appearance, quality, growth and vitality of the South Huntsville district.

The grants provide up to two-to-one in matching funds for 11 projects ranging from $800 to $4,000. The total economic impact is $184,000 in the South Huntsville community.

“The Façade Improvement Grants are contributing to a positive business environment in South Huntsville,” said Bekah Schmidt, executive director for the South Huntsville Main Business Association. “Through the grant, we are encouraging the revitalization of buildings and supporting business improvement. We look forward to seeing these projects completed over the next six months, and greatly appreciate our presenting sponsor, Redstone Federal Credit Union for making this all possible.”

The grant program is part of South Huntsville’s participation in the Main Street Alabama, a statewide effort to build stronger communities through effective downtown and neighborhood commercial district revitalization. South Huntsville was designated a Main Street Alabama community in June 2018.

The following businesses and or shopping centers will be utilizing the matching grant funds to complete façade renovations, building enhancements, or landscape improvements.

  • Angel’s Island Coffee Shop
  • Apollo Animal Hospital
  • Bubby’s Diner
  • Das Stahl Bierhaus
  • Earth Touch Garden Center
  • Eleanor Murphy Library
  • 8200 Memorial Parkway
  • Off the Rack Boutique
  • Main Street South
  • Sabghi’s Jewelers
  • Village Center

For information, call 256-701-2290, email bekah@shba.biz or visit southhuntsvillemain.org/façade.

CityCentre to Become City’s Social/Cultural Epicenter

As Huntsville continues to grow and evolve, its downtown is going through a metamorphosis of its own.

And, sometime in the next decade, Huntsville will eclipse other cities in the state economically, culturally and in population.

Speaking of Eclipse, that’s the name of the newest project that will add to the downtown skyline.

We are thrilled to bring the Eclipse – a Spring Bay Residence to our Huntsville community,” said Lindsey
Pattillo Keane, manager of Marketing and Property Activation for RCP Companies. “CityCentre is a destination that strengthens Huntsville’s urban core and complements a growing number of new downtown offerings and existing cultural amenities.

CityCentre will feature a three-part public art commission, artisanal market and social hall across from Big Spring Park. (Rendering/RCP Companies)

“This is the epicenter of downtown Huntsville where important connections are made that will improve pedestrian movement and enhance already-successful city-sponsored activities.”

Eclipse is a 278-unit, multifamily residential project will include studio, one- and two-bedroom units above 18,000-square feet of upscale restaurants and retail.

“This dynamic design highlighting modern luxury and classic charm will offer residents a courtyard pool, gated dog park, and stunning panoramic views of Big Spring Park,” Keane said.

Eclipse will be adjacent to the AC Hotel and will include a unique art walk and market place.

“This site will feature Huntsville’s largest three-part public art commission thanks to partnerships with CityCentre, Arts Huntsville, City of Huntsville, Community Foundation, and Redstone Federal Credit Union,” Keane said. “We are also currently finalizing design on our carefully curated, artisanal market and social hall.”

The project is expected to be finished by the end of 2020.c

Giving Tuesday: Community Foundation Announces $790K for Local Organizations

The Community Foundation of Greater Huntsville celebrated Giving Tuesday with the announcement of some $790,000 in grants from businesses for local organizations.

Giving Tuesday is an internationally recognized day of charitable giving that kicks off the holiday season with a spirit of generosity.

The following companies within the Community Foundation’s Corporate Giving Network presented grants at the community-wide Giving Tuesday celebration:
 Adtran
 A-P-T Research
 Boeing
 Cadence Bank
 Crestwood Medical Center
 ERC
 Google Fiber
 IronMountain Solutions
 Toyota Motor Manufacturing Alabama
 Vector Wealth Strategies

This collective celebration helped bring attention to the companies and organizations making our community better through generosity.

Huntsville Announces Holiday Closures, Delays; Thursday Garbage Collection Moved to Friday

The City of Huntsville’s municipal offices will be closed for the upcoming Thanksgiving Holiday, Nov. 28-29.

The following services will be affected:

Garbage Collection:  Thursday’s residential curbside collection will be picked up on Friday, Nov. 29.

Public Transit:  Thursday’s Shuttle B​us and Handi-Ride services will be closed. Transit service resumes on Friday, Nov. 29.

Parks & Recreation:  Recreation centers and facilities will be closed on Thursday and Friday and will reopen on Saturday, Nov. 30.

Animal Services:  The Animal Shelter and Animal Services will be closed from Thursday through Sunday.

Municipal Court:  Closed Thursday and Friday.

Public Safety:  Police and Fire will remain on duty throughout the holiday weekend.

Regymen Fitness: Feel the Burn … and Afterburn

Ready to Burn, Box, and Build?

Then, let’s get HLIT with High Level Intensity Training at Regymen Fitness in Times Plaza on South Parkway.

Featuring a trailblazing method that’s guaranteed to disrupt any ho-hum workout routine, Regymen’s Burn-Box-Build consists of three programs in 90-minute intervals. Designed to challenge your body for muscle gain, calorie burn, flexibility, and agility, the workouts have been developed with variety and excitement in mind, to prevent muscle complacency and boredom.

“In the world of boutique fitness, most are concentrated on one form,” said Jason Haynes, owner of the Huntsville location. “We offer a lot more variety for our customers; not just for individuals, but for families, too.”

The Regymen program maximizes the potential of afterburn, Haynes said. Scientifically known as Excess Post-Exercise Oxygen Consumption (EPOC), afterburn is caused by the body’s need for oxygen after cardio and resistance training. It must replenish its energy sources to return to its normal state. The body needs to consume energy, and that energy comes directly from the body. This is how calories really burn.

After a long career in federal government, Haynes always had a long-term vision of owning his own business. Jason, his wife Anu, and their two sons enjoy an active lifestyle based on health and fitness.

Regymen Fitness owner Jason Haynes. (Photo/Steve Babin)

After their oldest son, Steven, graduated with a degree in exercise science, he got a job with the Regymen studio in Niceville, Fla. Steven liked the premise and the corporate culture, encouraging his dad to check it out.

Soon after, Jason met with the corporate team, “It seemed like a perfect fit,” he said.

Regymen’s corporate headquarters are in Baton Rouge and the company strongly emphasizes pre-testing at its four locations.

“They’re visionaries, continuously evolving their product in front of industry leaders,” said Haynes. “A lot of forward-thinking staff with a great understanding of fitness. It’s not a closed system; there’s a continuous feedback loop. All the coaches from the studios dial in weekly for ‘boots on the ground;’ not just the fitness side, but the corporate side, too.”

Haynes said the studio provides a local-feel, unique to the Huntsville-Madison County community.

“Regymen’s corporate culture is for us to be involved with the community, getting out into the community, having social events and hosting monthly events to build relationships that go beyond a workout,” said Haynes.

Huntsville-based Merit Bank Announces Board of Directors

Huntsville-based Merit Bank has announced a board of directors reflecting its philosophy of focusing on local small businesses.

The board for the bank, which opened this summer, is comprised of entrepreneurs and small business owners. Merit Bank is among six percent of the banks which are Huntsville-based.

“The directors guiding Merit Bank have been small business owners themselves. They have turned startups into multi-million-dollar companies and have led complex government contracting processes” said Merit Bank President Hill Womble. “They are Huntsville business executives who know what it takes to get things done. Now they are part of the Merit Bank team, bringing their experience and insight to provide a unique voice and vision for local businesses.”

The board members are: Steven Cost, president of Hexagon Safety & Infrastructure; Chad Falciani, founder and CEO of Strategix Medical Solutions; Kevin Heronimus, former CEO of Line-X; current chairman/CEO of Technical Micronics Control Corp.; Jeff Huntley, owner of T-H Marine; and Brent Romine, founder of nou Systems.

“Bankers are an essential lifeline for small business success,” Romine said. “As a Huntsville- headquartered bank focused on industrial and commercial banking, Merit Bank is well positioned to be a small business enabler.

“Our bankers not only understand working capital needs, but are vital advisors for businesses growth.”

 

‘Tis the Season to Shop Small Business

Crisp air and the crunch of leaves underfoot seem to suggest that fall has finally arrived in Huntsville, and along with that seasonal shift arrives the promise of the holidays just around the corner.

Cured and Company features charcuterie gifts. (Photo/Olivia Reed)

For many Huntsvillians, the harried pace of the holidays translates to long lists and the merriment of multi-tasking.

Family, full-time jobs, travel commitments, and social engagements crowd the calendar, and modern day “smart shopping” can typically translate to online shopping carts and expedited shipping.

Although big-box retailers such as Amazon and Target can offer a fast fix in the holiday crunch, community leaders advocate that in the long run supporting small business is synonymous with smart shopping.

“As a consumer, you have purchasing power,” said Bekah Schmidt, Executive Director of South Huntsville Business Association. “If you chose to purchase a product for cheaper at a big box retailer instead of shopping local, you send that purchasing power to support a different economy.

“And, while you may see a return in the short run, when you have a strong local economy, you have a strong quality of life.”

Small Business Saturday is Nov. 30 nationwide and, as the date approaches, Huntsville small business owners strive to remind locals that not only do small businesses offer unique finds, they also offer an experience that can’t be found from filling an online shopping cart.

Whether it’s for corporate clients, holiday host/hostesses, teachers, or just friends and family, gift giving can be tricky, and small stores can offer insight, ideas, and inspiration that is harder to come by at big box chains.

This vision of a more personalized purchasing experience was part of the inspiration when Stephanie Lowe and Emily Rogers, co-owners of Cured and Company, created their custom charcuterie board business.

“We know the holidays are a time for gift giving and many people like to gift food for corporate clients,” said Lowe. “We created this business around the idea that food brings people together, and when you are going to someone’s house to a party, instead of bringing wine or liquor, a box of charcuterie is a fabulous gift.

“It’s something special and unique and pretty. And it’s also delicious.”

Like many other small business owners, Lowe says they are creating special items just for the holidays, including wrapped gift boxes of artfully arranged meat and cheese that can serve up to six.

Stylish presentation is another reason shopping small makes for a more unique gift.

Gina Garrett, owner of South Huntsville gift shop Sweet Pineapple, said although they offer complimentary gift wrapping year-round, their holiday packaging is especially beautiful.

Sweet Pineapple offers cozy sweaters by Barefoot Dreams, Ronaldo Jewelry, and a huge selection of candles and other home goods. (Photo/Olivia Reed)

“It’s hard to order something online and it arrive beautifully wrapped,” she said. “And online shopping can be really overwhelming. Once you start scrolling online, you feel like you need to scroll thorough every single thing to see all of your options.

“It’s nice to be able to just walk into a shop where a lovely display has been curated for you.”

Sweet Pineapple offers cozy sweaters by Barefoot Dreams, Ronaldo Jewelry, and a huge selection of candles and other home goods at price points that Garrett says will fit any budget.

For little ones, The Toy Place in Five Points is another spot where in-store service is a key part of the shopping experience.

“There is no algorithm for the investment that a small business makes in its customers,” said owner Susan Blevins. “I take pride in being able to offer guidance to anyone who walks through my door, especially someone who is buying a gift for a child and needs help finding the right item.”

For art enthusiasts and foodies, Harrison Brothers Hardware on the downtown square has become a staple for seeking special and whimsical gifts like gourmet cookware, books, art, fine crafts, and children toys.

TKH Leather Goods by Thad Hooper can be found at OTBX.

And much of Harrison Brother’s merchandise is by local artisans and authors.

Just blocks away from the square, OTBX (Olde Towne Beer Exchange) will offer crate gift bundles with craft beer selections, fun novelty t-shirts, Timbrook toys, and even custom leather goods by local artisan Thad Hooper.

With endless options for unique gifts, exceptional customer care, and the added bonus of supporting a strong local economy, shop owners insist that shopping small isn’t only smart, it’s also a chance to slow down and actually enjoy the season.

“People want an authentic experience,” said Schmidt. “They want to go to Clinton Row and get a cup of coffee at Honest Coffee and then browse the stores like Roosevelt & Co. and In Bloom and Elitaire. This isn’t a new phenomenon, but as a society we are going back to it.

“People crave that authentic find, and that’s exactly what you get when you shop local.”

 

 

‘Corner Office’ Coming to 125 North Side Square

 

 

On the corner of the historic downtown Huntsville square, a new face for an old building is underway.

Jimmy John’s will remain open while the “Corner Office” is under construction. (Photo/Crunkleton Commercial Real Estate)

To be known as the “Corner Office”, the new Crunkleton Commercial Real Estate project at 125 North Side Square will give a much-needed facelift to a property that has seen many lives and uses over the course of its existence. The development will feature retail and modern offices.

A new attractive lobby will be added on the ground floor where offices can receive visitors. There will also be balconies added to the front of the building so, during a busy workday, tenants can step outside and enjoy a breath of fresh air while surveying the busy downtown street below. .

Inside, the spaces will be updated and improved while still maintaining the building’s original charm, such as exposed brick accents.

Contemporary office space will soon occupy the interior of the building.

The first floor will encompass 1,750 square feet of retail/restaurant/entertainment space.

The second and third floors have a combined 7,000 square feet of office space divided into four 1,750-square-foot suites — two on the second floor and two on the third floor.

These suites can also be combined if needed. The project is scheduled to be completed by the end of the year.

Visit crunkletonassociates.com.

 

 

MartinFederal Awarded $3.5 Million RMDA Contract

MartinFederal Consulting has been awarded a two-year, $3.5 million contract by the Army Records Management and Declassification Agency.

“We are excited about the opportunity to work with the Records Management and Declassification Agency to provide the highest level of service possible,” said Corey Martin, company president and CEO. “We have a tremendous team with vast experience in records management and are thrilled about this opportunity. “

The Records Management and Declassification Agency is responsible for the entire spectrum of the Army’s interrelated records management programs including Army Records Management, Army Freedom of Information, Army Privacy, Civil Liberties, Joint Services Records Research, and Declassification of Army Records.

Headquartered in Huntsville, MartinFederal is an SBA 8(a) and SDVOSB providing high-tech solutions to the federal government. Visit www.martinfed.com.

Hexagon/Intergraph Celebrates 50 Years of Innovative Software, Mapping and Computer Graphics

There were a lot of headlines in 1969.

The Beatles played their last public concert on the roof of Apple Records and 350,000 young people gathered at Woodstock to protest the Vietnam War.

Bob Thurber: “Our work in hardware and software wasn’t an industry then – it was just the beginning of stuff.” (Photo/Steve Babin)

But while Boeing was debuting its 747 “Jumbo Jet” to the American public, NASA engineers had landed Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin on the surface of the Moon using the Apollo Guidance Computer. It’s laboriously handmade, read-only rope memory was equivalent to 72 KB of storage today.

Also in 1969, while millions of children watched the Utopian lifestyle of a space age cartoon called “The Jetsons” with its clunky robots and home automated conveyor belt, engineers were making it a reality, linking for the first time, several large-scale, general purpose computers into a network known as the Advanced Research Projects Agency Network (ARPANET).

It was against this backdrop that IBM engineer James Meadlock, his wife Nancy, and three young engineers Bob Thurber, Terry Schansman and Keith Schonrock left their jobs at IBM on Feb. 10, 1969 to start M&S Computing on South Memorial Parkway in Huntsville.

With the company that became known worldwide as Intergraph and now known as Hexagon, the now-retired Meadlock and his remaining team returned to the sprawling campus and world headquarters in what is now the new Town Madison, for a 50th anniversary celebration.

Hundreds of current and former employees and their families filled the three-level hexagon-shaped building with its towering glass windows and tiered mezzanine overlooking a private lake to hear Meadlock speak.

Intergraph co-founder James Meadlock left IBM in 1969 to help found M&S Computing, the forerunner to Intergraph. (Photo/Steve Babin)

According to Bob Thurber, co-founder and the original executive vice president of the company, IBM got the contract for the instrument unit on the Saturn launch vehicle because they had built the first digital computer on a missile.

“I came out of college with IBM in Huntsville, so when we finished with the Saturn program, we were the renowned experts on putting digital computers onboard missiles,” said Thurber. “We were able to leave IBM with our heads held high.”

Initially, Thurber said all the Army’s weapons systems needed computers on them, so M&S Computing became a consultant for them.

“One of the things we did in the IBM days was build an interactive graphics interface for the simulation of the Saturn launch vehicle,” he said. “You had to run simulations over and over and over again, but if something went wrong within the first 30 seconds of launch, you didn’t know it until you came in the next day. They needed a quicker interactive system to do it.

“That’s how we got started. By running simulations interactively, you could watch the trajectory on the screen and if it blew up or went off-course, you could just stop it, key in some different parameters, and run it again. You could do in a day what had been taking a month.”

That ability to visualize data led to their graphics mapping capabilities, and M&S Computing was the first company to do that as well.

“Our work in hardware and software wasn’t an industry then – it was just the beginning of stuff,” Thurber said. “There were only four companies in the business when we got into it, but we essentially created the core graphics for AutoCAD.”

Thurber said they sold their first three systems around Christmas 1973: an engineering drafting system for 2D drafting to a company in Houston; a system for municipal mapping to the city of Nashville; and a system to the Army Missile Command (AMC). All three were totally separate industries, but they all needed the same basic graphic capabilities.

“We lost a lot of money when we sold Nashville the mapping system,” Thurber said. “The city said to us, ‘Look, we would love to use this stuff, but we don’t want to build all these maps!’ We said, ‘Okay. We’ll do it for you’.

“We charged them $80 per map. The cost was $500 per map, but it really it forced us to make it a good mapping system and it gave us the experience we wouldn’t have gotten had we held their hand while they did it.”

In the end, Nashville was the first city to map its roadways to understand traffic flow, congestion points, etc. all thanks to M&S Computing’s mapping capabilities.

The company then known as M&S Computing rented office space in Huntsville until the 1974 tornado destroyed the Bendix Building on Alabama 20 in Madison. Using insurance money, they were able to reconfigure it to M&S Computing’s requirements.

“The only eating place near our office back then was a Waffle House,” Thurber said with a laugh.

That would be the first of a sprawling campus with more than 4,000 employees, that is today located amidst the bustling new Town Madison development.

In 1981, M&S Computing went public and changed its name to Intergraph. After Meadlock and Thurber retired from the company, Stockholm-based Hexagon purchased Intergraph in 2010 for $2.125 billion.

Meadlock, who lost his beloved wife and business partner Nancy, is quietly retired.

Thurber is active with Huntsville’s tech incubator BizTech, but he says for a company that was the first to develop intelligent applications on top of graphics, the software and computing industry has now moved way past him.

“I still come over and visit and when I see the demos of the work Hexagon is doing now, fifty years later, the capabilities are so much more than graphics,” he said. “But they tell me that our software, M&S Computing’s software, is so integrated into their design and construction process, it cannot be unseated.”