Construction of Mixed-Use Development on Governors Drive Set for Early 2021

Developers of a mixed-use “I-565 gateway” to Huntsville’s Westside have released a preliminary rendering of the project and anticipate a “first quarter 2021” construction start.

Preliminary rendering of the planned mixed-use development on Governors Drive in Huntsville’s Westside. (The Beach Company)

The property, some 13 acres of land on Governors Drive near the intersections with 13th and 14th streets, will be developed by The Beach Company, a Charleston, S.C.-based development company.

The multibuilding community will feature nearly 26,000 square feet of office, retail and dining space in addition to 260 multifamily units, 14 townhomes and a 100-key hotel.

Residential amenities will include a pool, a fitness area, a clubhouse and ample green space with a dog park.

The planned project will complement the neighboring Stovehouse complex and will feature pedestrian walkways between the two developments.

“This community addition will help continue the momentum of growth along Governors Drive through increased walkability and connectivity,” said Ned Miller, development manager with The Beach Company. “The project was thoughtfully designed to enhance the experience of the growing number of residents and businesses expanding to Huntsville’s flourishing Westside.”

Regions Grant Gives KTECH’s Virtual Reality Workforce Initiative Real-Life Implications

Virtual reality goes real-time at KTECH thanks to a $42,000 grant from the Regions Foundation, the nonprofit initiative of Regions Bank. The money will fund virtual reality equipment for KTECH’s new Virtual Reality Workforce Development Training initiative.

Founder and CEO Lee Marshall formed KTECH as the workforce training and development arm of her Kids to Love Foundation. Because workforce readiness is a top priority for Regions Bank, its initiatives naturally align with KTECH.

“It has never been more important to connect with people wherever they are,” said Marta Self, executive director of the Regions Foundation. “That’s exactly what VR does, and what KTECH is doing. This is about empowering students with new tools to help them prepare for successful and rewarding careers.”

The grant is an extension of Region’s work to prepare people in Huntsville and Madison County for advanced manufacturing and high-tech jobs.

KTECH introduced the use of virtual reality technology this summer amid the COVID-19 pandemic, as a 3D Virtual Tour recruitment tool. Students were able to explore KTECH’s STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math) facilities while living under stay-at-home orders.

It introduced a new way of seeing what KTECH is about and gave virtual viewers an up-close look at instructors demonstrating how the equipment works. It also shows the instructors conducting KTECH training, so it puts the student right there in the workplace and classroom.

KTECH has been on the edge of innovation. It targets foster kids who have aged out of the foster care system, and also is a training vehicle for anyone in the community who can use the skills, including veterans.

They offer hands-on, interactive, one-on-one instruction and certification training in mechatronics, robotics, soldering and solid edge modeling. All four skills are in high demand in the advanced manufacturing industry.

After students receive their certification, KTECH connects its graduates with good-paying jobs in the manufacturing sector.

Now VR is incorporated into the Mechatronics classes, further enhancing the student’s classroom experience in preparation for future careers.

VR technology creates a 3D simulated environment that prepares students for a range of vocational and tech-based careers. Students can both learn a STEAM skill and experience the job environment in which they will find themselves upon completion. It supplements in-person training with remote learning from anywhere.

“Students use VR headsets to experience face-to-face interactions with realistic avatars for a more immersive experience in learning than workers have ever been able to do before,” said Marshall. “During COVID-19, we knew we had to pivot to propel our students forward, and Virtual Reality was the obvious choice.

“Cutting-edge virtual reality technology is used throughout KTECH and helps students pursue self-guided discovery in areas such as mechatronics, hands-on skills development, and more.”

According to several career-oriented websites, VR is ranked in the top five fastest growing technology careers, alongside cybersecurity and artificial intelligence.

“We are thankful the Regions Foundation sees how this Virtual Reality technology will advance our KTECH students,” said Marshall. “Putting state-of-the-art technology into the palm of a student’s hand, no matter where they are, is critical to the learning and workforce training process. Adapting and expanding digital offerings allows KTECH to grow in a ‘post-COVID’ world, preparing the workforce of the future.”

Sean Kelly, Huntsville market executive for Regions Bank. said, as the local economy recovers from COVID-19, more companies will discover the positive workforce climate available in Huntsville.

“KTECH and the Virtual Reality program will serve as important components to the success of the Tennessee Valley,” said Kelly. “We all benefit – individuals, businesses and communities – when we ensure the workforce is trained, prepared and ready to succeed.”

 

With a Heart of Gold, Colin Wayne and Redline Make Products of Steel

TANNER — Decorated Army veteran seriously injured in Afghanistan.

Redline Steel has produced some 5 million products from its 110,000 square-foot facility in SouthPoint Business Park.

Traveling the world as a fitness model.

Entrepreneur and steel manufacturing guru.

Humanitarian and philanthropist in line to receive Huntsville’s “Key to the City”.

A person can accomplish a lot in just 31 years. Ask Huntsville native and social media extraordinaire Colin Wayne.

His company, Redline Steel, is ranked 110th among the Inc. 5000 Fastest Growing Private Companies in America – and is the fastest-growing company in the state

. In addition, Inc. 5000 recognized Redline Steel as the No. 4 Fastest Growing Manufacturing Company nationally with a recorded growth increase of 3,215 percent from 2019 to 2020.

Quickly becoming one of the largest steel monogram companies in the U.S., Redline Steel is expecting to surpass $100 million in sales by the end of the year.

But, to Wayne, giving to the community is what moves him.

“I am an entrepreneur, but I have always been a humanitarian and philanthropist at heart,” he said.

Wayne’s journey to becoming a steel manufacturing expert has been nothing short of extraordinary.

He was seriously injured in a rocket attack eight years ago in Afghanistan and spent six months in physical therapy and recovery from lumbar fusion surgery on his back.

Transitioning out of the Army in 2013, he traveled the world as a fitness model gracing the cover of more than 50 men’s health magazines and promoting products for Under Armour and Nike.

Moving back to Huntsville in 2015, it was a fortuitous business transaction that led Wayne to steel manufacturing and eventually build Redline Steel into his own company in January 2016.

Colin Wayne makes a presentation to Huntsville Police Capt. Mike Izzo. (Redline Photo)

Since then, Wayne has paid his good fortune back to the local, regional, and national communities that have resulted in his success many times over.

His company donated $50,000 to the Huntsville Police Department and, in 2017, donated $25,000 to the American Red Cross. Redline Steel has also given back to Alabama farmers, veterans groups, schoolteachers, and truckers.

In the meantime, like hundreds of other businesses, Redline Steel has been adversely affected by the pandemic.

But, unlike hundreds of other businesses, he didn’t let it adversely affect his employees. Redline Steel employs more than 85 employees and based on current projections, Wayne expects that to reach over 100 by end of the year.

“When the coronavirus hit this spring, I doubled our workforce, and we did not lay anyone off, even during the worst of it,” Wayne said. “Then, to lessen the negative impact, I paid all our employees’ house payments in April.

“The coronavirus has been challenging because we have struggled like everyone else to find ways to combat it and keep going. It caused a lot of stress on the company’s growth because of the unknowns and we have had more unemployment the past couple months than we have had in over 50 years.

“People aren’t spending like they were before the pandemic, so we had to get creative to find different ways to monetize.”

He said now that almost every state including Alabama has mandatory mask requirements, they began getting a lot of requests for them through their website. They set up a partnership to make and sell face masks but – to him – that wasn’t enough.

“We donated over $4 million in products to provide support for essential healthcare workers and partnered with my friend, actress Megan Fox, to donate $3.2 million to medical support personnel and first responders,” he said.

From its 110,000 square-foot facility in SouthPoint Business Park just off Interstates 65 and 565 in Tanner, Redline Steel manages all manufacturing and fulfillment coming from their online retail store. In its first four years in business, they have moved some 5 million products. Their mostly steel-based products include personalized and monogrammed gifts, home décor, jewelry, children’s items, and accessories.

Colin Wayne takes a selfie with President Trump after a ceremony in Washington.

This year, President Trump invited him to the White House where he awarded Wayne with a signed commendation plaque. They also took a selfie together and Trump bought an American flag from his company’s Patriotic Flag Collection.

More recently, he was nominated for the 2020 Russell G. Brown Executive Leadership Award in Alabama for Small Businesses and will be receiving Huntsville’s Key to the City recognition for his charitable community involvement.

In August, Redline Steel launched three nonprofit campaigns.

“I look for causes whose missions align with my values and beliefs,” Wayne said. “My five-year-old niece was recently diagnosed with cancer and the Olivia Hope Foundation specializes in pediatric cancer.

“She is currently in remission, but she is still on oral chemotherapy and it is very difficult.”

The Olivia Hope Foundation was created in honor of 11-year-old Olivia Hope LoRusso, who lost a 15-month fight with Acute Myeloid Leukemia. Redline Steel is offering exclusive home décor pieces with every donation. For information, visit oliviahope.org.

“We are also launching a campaign with Midnight Mission,” he said. “They feed the homeless and, of course, that is important to me because 70 percent of homeless people are war veterans.”

In August, a long list of Hollywood celebrities teamed up with Habitat for Humanity to promote a social media campaign called #Hammertime. Redline Steel became involved by making a special steel hammer to send to every person who donated $25 or more.

“And Habitat for Humanity,” he said. “They are a much larger organization obviously, but they are also a Christian organization that helps people in need to build homes.”

Hexagon to Unite GIS Solutions for Huntsville Utilities

Huntsville Utilities has chosen Hexagon’s geographic information system to consolidate the utility’s GIS solutions into one. The new GIS will serve as the foundation for building and managing Huntsville Utilities’ electric, gas, water and fiber infrastructure.

Huntsville Utilities has partnered with Hexagon for three decades to provide utility services to Huntsville and Madison County. With Hexagon’s GIS solutions providing a single source of location-based information, Huntsville Utilities will have real-time data for the operations, engineering and accounting teams to help provide service to the more than 330,000 customers.

“Where we go and what we do in the next 20 years is based on foundational decisions such as our GIS core,” said Wes Kelley, CEO of Huntsville Utilities. “With Hexagon’s solution, we have a single source of information for our physical assets, a trusted platform upon which we will build all our solutions.”

Applications of the new GIS system include outage management workflows, preventive maintenance strategies and more. Users of the new system will be able to design and maintain information about the utility’s assets via the web and mobile devices, which extend the solution into the field to make critical decisions.

“We’re honored Huntsville Utilities selected Hexagon’s GIS solutions,” said Steven Cost, president of Hexagon’s Safety & Infrastructure Division. “We are proud to be part of Huntsville Utilities’ path forward, not only as a technology provider, but also as a partner in the development of our local community.”

Alabama Goods: Distinctive Food and Gifts Made in Alabama

When looking for the perfect gift or gift basket, look no further.

Alabama Goods features art, jewelry, pottery, crafts, and food items from around the state. (Photo/Steve Babin)

Homewood-based Alabama Goods has expanded northward to the Valley Bend shopping center, next to Fleet Feet.

“We’ve been wanting to open a location in Huntsville for a couple of years,” said owner Sherry Hartley. “We would go to Huntsville and ride around, looking for the right spot. When we found this one, we just thought it was a good match for the customer base that will be shopping there.”

What’s so unique about Alabama Goods is the merchandise they carry. It’s all handmade by Alabama artisans.

Alabama Goods got its start in 2008 when Hartley and her business partner Beth Staula teamed up to create their online corporate gift basket business. While serving on a committee with the Birmingham Chamber of Commerce, Hartley and Staula discussed potential business opportunities.

Staula had been in the business of corporate baskets and Hartley was in website development.  So, the pair began their business venture as a website and a corporate gift company.

There’s a lot of thought that goes into assembling the perfect corporate gift basket.

“Our main thing is that we want our customer, the company to look good,” said Hartley. “We put together pottery, food, all types of gifts. We will put together gift concepts that are not just gourmet foods. We will put together a pottery item and a food item. A lot of times, it’s going to be artwork, a wide variety of things for companies.”

When Hartley and Staula were looking for vendors, they often would come across awesome products that were just not quite “corporate material.”

“We kept finding these really cool items from Alabama but didn’t really qualify to be on the website,” said Hartley. That’s when they decided to open a store.

Alabama-made sauces, spices, jams, jellies and the like will please your palate. (Photo/Steve Babin)

“We opened the Homewood store eight years ago and doubled our space three years ago,” said Hartley. “We decided that we need to be somewhere else in Alabama. I was reading articles all the time about the growth of Huntsville and that’s why Huntsville had been on my radar.”

Along with assorted gift baskets, Alabama Goods boasts one of the largest selections of Alabama-made pottery. The merchandise in the store is highly curated before it reaches the sales floor. Hartley and Staula search far and wide throughout the state for just the right art, jewelry, pottery, crafts, and food items.

“We have so much talent in Alabama,” Hartley said. “it’s just a matter of finding it.”

 

 

 

Publix to Anchor The Market at Hays Farm

One of the most prominent vacant retail developments in the Huntsville metro area is getting a $23.5 million investment, it was announced Friday.

Publix Super Market will serve as the grocery anchor for the Market at Hays Farm (formerly Haysland Square) development, according to developer Branch Properties.

“This is an exciting development for South Huntsville and a welcome announcement for all those residents who have eagerly hoped for a revival of the Haysland Square property,” said Mayor Tommy Battle. “This is also what happens when the city invests wisely in infrastructure that promotes planned growth and development such as the $60 million spent on the South Parkway ‘Restore Our Roads’ project, the new Grissom High School, and the new Haysland Road Extension and greenway.

“We applaud the Hays family for seeing the promise of South Huntsville and for their investment in its success.”

The Market at Hays Farm boasts more than 150,000 square feet of small shops and junior anchor space available in addition to multiple outparcels to serve the needs of the growing South Huntsville community. 

Branch Properties has developed and owned more than 45 Publix-anchored shopping centers around the Southeast and worked in collaboration with Tailwinds Development, which has built more than 15 Publix-anchored centers over the last 20 years.

“Publix has always been a pleasure to work with, and we value our relationship with them,” said James Genderau of Tailwinds. “John Hays and his family, who have owned the property for over 50 years, were truly the reason we made this deal happen. John is a gentleman and man of his word”

Branch Properties Executive Vice President said, “The city’s development staff of Shane Davis (director of Urban and Economic Development), Kathy Martin (city engineer) and Jim McGuffey (manager Planning Service), were rock solid and always had their doors open for us. This team was led by Mayor Tommy Battle who really had a vision for South Huntsville  … We appreciate what (he) has helped us accomplish here”

Since June 2018, South Huntsville has seen $75 million of private investment. The Hays Farm development will include single-family homes, apartments and townhouses to complement retail businesses and a nine-acre city park.

“The much-anticipated Market at Hays Farm is the first of many great things coming to Hays Farm and the South Parkway,” said South Huntsville Main Business Association Executive Director Bekah Schmidt. “We welcome the new Publix to the South Huntsville community and look forward to small businesses and additional anchors coming to the Market at Hays Farm.”

Demolition will begin immediately with the center scheduled to open in the fall of 2021.

Athens-based Pimentos to Open At Stovehouse’s Gaslight Alley

After 25 years as an accountant, Teresa Brodie had to decide what to do next.

Keeping her current position would mean moving to St. Louis — something she knew she didn’t want. She is an only child and wanted to stay close to her parents in Athens.

That’s when she says God stepped in to choose for her. She would leave her desk job behind and purchase Pimentos gift shop in Athens.

“Making the leap from a corporate job to owning a gift shop seemed natural,” said Brodie. “My parents were entrepreneurs and I grew up with an appreciation for people operating their own businesses. It was personal—meaningful. Pimentos offered me the chance to stay close to my family and make my dream of entrepreneurship a reality.”

Now, six years after purchasing the business, Brodie and her team have decided to open its next location at Stovehouse’s Gaslight Alley shopping district.

“Stovehouse has been my dream location for some time,” Brodie said. “Once I saw advertisements for the property, I began visiting the site every few months to keep an eye on progress. I’ve wanted to be there before the first restaurant even opened.”

Pimentos opened its doors in March 2004 on the square in Athens. The owner, Shannon Bryant, wanted to develop an oasis for people looking to relax and converse while shopping for the perfect gift.

After years of building Pimentos into a well-known Athens landmark, Bryant stepped down to spend more time with her family.

And Brodie saw the opportunity to carry on her vision and purchased the store in 2014.

“I’ve always wanted to own a shop like Pimentos,” Teresa smiled. “We try to offer much more than unique gifts; although, that’s our specialty. When we get a chance to speak to our customers about what they’re looking for, we begin to know them on a more personal level. We know most of our customers’ children, spouses, friends, and big life events because we build those relationships with each visit. Our guests ultimately become our friends. That’s my favorite part of the retail business.”

During its first 10 years, Pimentos also opened a location at Hampton Cove. Stovehouse, however, will be the first expansion in 16 years for the business; the store is expected to open late this fall or early winter.

“Gaslight Alley is going to be an incredible opportunity for us for many reasons,” Brodie said. “We are most looking forward to becoming a part of the on-campus community. For instance, we can show up at the offices on-site and bring candles and small gifts so they can get to know us.

“We can help them find a gift and have it beautifully wrapped for their loved one by the end of the workday.”

TVA Rescinds ‘Misstep’ to Lay Off IT Workers

The Tennessee Valley Authority has rescinded its decision to lay off information technology workers and outsource their work as part of the restructuring process announced in June.

Interim TVA Board Chair John Ryder and TVA President and CEO Jeff Lyash met Thursday with White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows and White House Counsel Pat Cipollone. Discussions included agreement on a shared desire to preserve and grow U.S. jobs.

“We had a positive meeting with the White House and wholeheartedly agree with the administration’s direction on jobs,” said Ryder. “We expressed that our IT restructuring process was faulty and that we have changed direction so that we can ensure American jobs are protected.”

Lyash said the federal agency was wrong in the impact the layoffs would have on its employees during the coronavirus pandemic.

“We were wrong in not fully understanding the impact on our employees, especially during the pandemic,” he said.
“We are taking immediate actions to address this situation. TVA fully understands and supports the administration’s commitment to preserving and growing American jobs.

“TVA will not lose sight of any facet of TVA’s mission of service – providing low-cost, reliable power while also serving to protect American jobs and create economic development across the Tennessee Valley.”

In addition to rescinding all IT organization involuntary Reduction-in-Force notices that occurred in 2020this year, TVA is also reviewing the full scope of contract companies supporting TVA to ensure compliance with the president’s Executive Order on H-1B workers, ensuring that American employees have good opportunities throughout TVA’s employment and supply chain practices.

“TVA has a long legacy of service to the 10 million people across seven states,” said Lyash. “Our mission is clear – delivering low-cost reliable power, economic development and environmental stewardship.

“We are addressing this disappointing misstep and refocusing our commitment on serving our customers and this nation.”

H.C. Blake Helps Shopping Plaza Realize a New Purpose Through Repurposing

The interior is a veritable showcase of repurposed building materials. (Photo/Steve Babin)

Walking into the building at the intersection of Oakwood Avenue and North Memorial Parkway is like stepping into many facets of history.

The newly remodeled property is now home to H.C. Blake Co., Kim’s Diner and Betty Mae’s Restaurant, both which will be opening soon.

Jim Batson, owner of H.C. Blake bought the property and with his sister, local artist Sara Beth Fair transformed the building, using repurposed materials and furnishings from businesses that had shuttered their doors. 

“We’re so excited about our new building,” said Fair. “Jim and I designed most of the building. Everything is repurposed. When businesses were closing, we went and got the furniture and fixtures. Every bit of wood in the training room is repurposed from Playmor bowling alley. There’s even a disco ball.” 

Plenty of attention has been paid to the outside area, as well. The exterior is bright, clean and inviting, with greenery housed in repurposed metal ceiling tile planters. It’s a far cry from what it had been for many years: a tired, run-down shopping plaza that had seen much better days. 

H.C. Blake was founded in 1884 and has been a family owned and operated business for five generations. In fact, Fair and Batson’s sons both work for the company.

A plumbing business that started out started with “just two guys and a wagon” has grown to 150 employees and a fleet of trucks. Throughout its 136-year history the company stayed in business, weathering two world wars and the Great Depression.

William Hampton, Sara Beth Fair, Carol Foret (Photo/Steve Babin)

The biggest gem of the H.C. Blake property sits at the northeast corner of the shopping plaza. The Blake Center for Arts & History, which includes the Sara Beth Fair Fine Art Gallery and Studio, the Carole Forêt Fine Art Gallery and Studio and Huntsville Revisited.

After 30 years in Gulf Breeze, Fla., Carole Forêt started two galleries in Athens. After moving to Huntsville in 2013, Forêt’ later became a part of Clinton Row in 2018.

“I’m part of a fifth gallery now,” said Forêt. “I’m thrilled to be in Huntsville.”

“Huntsville Revisited focuses on capturing and collecting pictures of people, places and other things related to Huntsville,” said Artist in Residence William Hampton. “Everyday citizens, the things that make this city unique; celebrating the contributions of every man and woman.” 

For more info: https://www.blakecenter.com/

The Catalyst Adapts to 21st Century to Meet the Needs of Entrepreneurs

What happens when an entire business model designed to assist entrepreneurs and small business owners on a personal basis is challenged by a large-scale pandemic?

Well, in the case of The Catalyst Center, it gets up, dusts itself off, rolls up its sleeves and shifts gears.

Agility: It’s the entrepreneurial way.

By taking a proactive stance in the midst of change and uncertainty, The Catalyst team walked the talk with its adaptability and flexible approach. Not only did they quickly adjust to the ever-changing landscape, they developed an enhanced business model in the process, allowing them to continue operations – and to expand their reach in the process. 

“One of the biggest challenges has been, is that our funding is from the Small Business Administration,” said Sandy Edwards, director of operations. “And we have to show all the good things that we do. “We’ve got to collect the data: Are we creating jobs? Are we creating new businesses?” 

Thanks to advances in technology, The Catalyst recently rolled out its new eCenter, an online data management portal. This system is designed to streamline back-office efficiencies, such as the registration and follow-up processes for workshops and special events. It also benefits clients by helping them effectively manage their profiles, sign up for programs and connect with a business coach. 

“We wanted to make sure that our clients have the best experience that they can and that we’re doing everything we can to help them from the conceptual idea of a startup to moving on through in every stage of their business life,” said CEO Lisa Davis Mays. “We really want to make sure that our small businesses are having the best possible user experience at The Catalyst, and what does that look like? It looks like streamlining the way we collect data.” 

These past several months have been a “baptism by fire” for the Catalyst’s new executives – each with less than a year under their belts. Leigh Christian, Tech Rich project manager began in Octobe; Operations Manager Sandy Edwards in November;, and Jennifer Stewart, the Women’s Business Center project manager, in March; Davis Mays is the newly minted CEO. 

For Davis Mays, it’s been especially noteworthy. Taking the helm May 1, was already filling the oversized shoes of retiring CEO Joanne Randolph. 

“I have learned there are categories of curve balls,” said Davis Mays. “Regular curve balls, flaming curve balls, and COVID curve balls. Regardless, I am getting great batting practice.

“We’re creating good margin for what’s really important, which is relationship building, and coaching and training. And helping our clients take steps toward surviving, thriving and succeeding.”

Visit catalystcenter.ecenterdirect.com