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Madison Chamber Holds Ribbon-Cutting … for Itself

MADISON — The role was reversed for the Madison Chamber of Commerce when it held a ribbon-cutting and open house – for itself.

The Chamber moved to 103 Spenryn Drive near downtown from its former location inside the Hogan Family YMCA on Hughes Road. The new space is about double of what the Chamber had at the Y.

Inside the new Madison Chamber of Commerce.

It has already been a huge economic year for the city with the continuing development of Town Madison with its plans for dozens of retail businesses, hotels, the baseball stadium, housing and Pro Player Park.

And the explosion does not show any signs of slowing as road improvement and widening projects can be found throughout the city and with the upcoming development of Avenue Madison, which will change the overall atmosphere of the historic downtown area.

According to Executive Director Pam Honeycutt, the Madison Chamber of Commerce plays a huge pro-business role in advancing that economic development while furthering the business interests of the Madison community overall.

“All of us at the Madison Chamber, along with our ambassadors and Board, work as a team to build and promote local businesses with the expectation they will be successful and spread that prosperity throughout the community,” said Honeycutt. “It’s absolutely amazing and we couldn’t do it without all this support.

“We feel very, very Madison, and very, very loved by Madison.”

Mayor Paul Finley cited the Chamber and the staff for their messaging and business development.

“One of the things we rely on the Chamber for is messaging,” said Finley. “To make sure that as many people as possible know about what we are doing in the community, the events they can get involved with, the things that make our City great.

“The Chamber helps businesses grow and prosper in every way they can. Pam understands the team orientation that Madison needs to be a strong Chamber and strong advocate for economic growth.”

Baseball complex, 2 more hotels coming to Town Madison

MADISON — Mayor Paul Finley made some major announcements and shared some astounding economic data Friday night at his annual State of the City Address.

Two new hotel chains, the Avid Hotel and Hilton Garden Inn, will join Home2 Suites and Margaritaville at Town Madison. Why the need for more lodging?

Because among his big announcements is the development of Pro Player Park, a 12-field baseball complex on the west side of Town Madison that is projected to generate 35,000 room nights a year!

Finley said Madison is strong and getting stronger thanks to efforts in public safety, in education, in healthcare, and in job growth.

While Finley acknowledges that the area relies heavily on the Huntsville/Madison County Chamber of Commerce to drive economic growth at the highest level, Madison, which shares both Madison and Limestone counties, is a big piece of the Tennessee Valley puzzle.

“Based on statistics compiled by UAH, in the past three years, we have created 30,000 jobs in those two counties alone!” Finley said to thunderous applause from the audience at the Davidson Center at the U.S. Space & Rocket Center. “That is a $2.6 billion economic expansion in Madison County and $6.6 billion in Limestone County, and that does not include Redstone Arsenal, which provides just under 10 percent of the state of Alabama’s gross domestic product”.

While the city itself is operating more efficiently, doing more with less expense to the taxpayer, Finley said that out of the $46 million for the Trash Pandas’ baseball stadium and $20 million for capital improvements for roads and infrastructure, the city currently has a surplus of $10 million in the bank “just in case”.

He also touted the success of Madison Hospital, which saw 55,000 visits to the emergency room last year and is on track to deliver an average of 200 babies per month in 2019. The Madison hospital has grown from 60 to 90 beds in just a couple of years.

He also called out Madison City Schools who ranked as the second-best district in the state in test scores – up from third last year.

“Every school in Madison received an ‘A’ on their report card,” said Finley. “There are only six out of 137 districts in the state who can say that, and ours is the largest to do it.”

He said the district has grown by 538 students since last year and, to put that into perspective, it equates to Madison itself becoming a 5A high school if the growth continues. They have also added two school resource officers to enhance safety and security in the schools, and the City Council budgeted more than $500,000 from the general fund to support both academics and school safety.

“Now comes the hard part,” said Finley. “We are the dog who caught the car. Now what are we going to do?”

He looks to the Launch 2035 initiative established by Huntsville’s Committee of 100 known as the Regional Collaboration of North Alabama “to ensure the successes we have had, continue for the next 10 and 15 years.”

“As leaders in this community, we have to come together to take the successes we have had, and make sure we support them with the things that are required: education, workforce development, and infrastructure.” 

A landmark groundbreaking for Madison, Duluth Trading Co.

Duluth Trading Co. will open its first Alabama retail store in Town Madison next year.

 

MADISON — It was a “less than perfect weather day but a perfect day for a groundbreaking.”

With those remarks, Madison Chamber of Commerce Board President Carmelita Palmer opened a landmark groundbreaking ceremony Friday.

The Duluth Trading Co., an innovative apparel retailer noted for its unique TV commercials (the store has a link to the commercials on is website – https://www.duluthtrading.com/TV+Ads.html) will open a 15,000-square-foot retail store in the city’s Town Madison development.

“We are so excited,” said Madison Mayor Paul Finley. “To have Duluth come here … when people heard Duluth Trading was coming here, there is so much excitement.”

The store, Duluth Trading’s first in the state, will join Home2 Suites Hilton, convenience store Twice Daily and other offices and retailers in West End at Town Madison, which adjoins the Intergraph/Hexagon campus along Interstate-565. Duluth Trading is slated to open around the middle of next year.

“This is an exciting day for Town Madison,” said Joey Ceci, representing developer Louis Breland. “You couldn’t pick a better retailer” to join the project’s lineup.

Town Madison is a 563-acre modern, walkable, urban community which will also be the home of the minor league baseball Rocket City Trash Pandas and a Margaritaville Hotel.

Minnesota-based Oppidan Investment Co., a national property development firm, is the project developer.

Like everyone else at the ceremony, the 40-degree, rainy weather was on the mind of Oppidan’s Jay Moore – but in a different way.

“This is nice weather; it’s a switch for us,” he said.

Moore said Duluth was looking around the area for its first Alabama retail store before deciding on Madison.

“We approached Breland about a year ago,” he said. “We are super proud to be one of the first retailers in this fine development.”

From left, Chamber Board President Carmelita Palmer, Mayor Paul Finley, Madison County Commission Chairman Dale Strong and Oppidan’s Jay Moore take part in the groundbreaking ceremony.

Madison County Commission Chairman Dale Strong said the store will enable the development to become an economic engine and a destination.

“This is the start of a destination location,” he said. “To Duluth, this is a great investment. You’ll never regret it.”

Despite the grey skies and gloomy weather, Finley reflected the optimism of the big event and the future it beckons.

“This is a sun shiny day for the city of Madison.”

Record-setting Night for Madison Best in Business Awards

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Teresa Croley of iHeartMedia won Ambassador of the Year.

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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