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South Huntsville Main Wins Main Street Alabama Awards of Excellence

For its work in helping improve the business environment of south Huntsville, the South Huntsville Main Business Association received five Awards of Excellence for 2019-2020 projects from Main Street Alabama.

Main Street Alabama celebrates local program successes with the  announcement of the seventh Annual Awards of Excellence. The awards honor projects and individuals that  make tremendous impacts in their respective communities.  

“The Main Street Alabama model of community reviltization has been an enormous success in the South Huntsville district,” said South Huntsville Main Executive Director Bekah Schmidt. “For the past two years, our volunteers, businesses and supporters have worked diligently to execute our mission of creating a vibrant South Huntsville.
“Receiving five Awards of Excellence is an incredible honor. We are proud of all of our award winners, and grateful for their contribution to the South Huntsville Main Program.”
Main Street Alabama focuses on bringing jobs, dollars and people back to Alabama’s historic  communities. Economic development is at the heart of our efforts to revitalize downtowns and  neighborhood commercial districts.

“It’s an honor to recognize outstanding community projects, leaders and volunteers,” said Mary  Helmer, president of Main Street of Alabama. “The awards represent the good work being done in  Main Street Alabama communities, including those that were initiated after the pandemic, sparking  creative ways to promote and help struggling businesses.” 

The awards were: 

Main Street Hero Award: Redstone Federal Credit Union 

Redstone Federal Credit Union has been instrumental in the South Huntsville Main program as one of the first organizations to step up and support revitalization efforts.

In 2019, RFCU announced a joint program with South Huntsville Main to provide $20,000 in  matching grant funds through the newly created Façade Improvement Grant Program, having a total  economic impact of $184,000 on South Huntsville, and assisting small businesses in improving their  store fronts.  

Excellence in Placemaking, COVID-19 Related: Graduation Mural 

COVID-19 delayed and altered graduation for seniors and the demolition of Haysland Square and owners John and Jimmy Hays wanted to do something special to celebrate the class  of 2020.

The family donated money for South Huntsville Main to commission local south Huntsville artist Sarah Finlen to paint a temporary graduation mural on the south side of Haysland Square. John also paid for photographer Jeff White to take graduation pictures of every senior at Grissom High  School. The temporary mural went viral and has been a popular site for visitors. 

Excellence in Business Development: Possibilities Tour 

To capitalize on the interest in opening a business in South Huntsville, the Economic Vitality Committee created a Possibilities Tour. The Possibilities Tour was designed to connect potential business owners with available spaces. On March 5, some 35 potential business owners and city leaders rode the Huntsville trolley to visit nearly a dozen locations. 

Excellence in Business Promotion: The Cookie Crunch 

Instead of hosting a traditional holiday open house, South Huntsville business owners Jennifer Mullins and Pam Burkholz of Interiors by Consign, rallied the businesses to do something outside the box. The idea emerged to create a Holiday “Cookie Crunch.”

Each participating business kicked off its holiday sales last Nov. 13 and made homemade Christmas cookies. The public was invited to sample the cookies at each participating location and vote for their favorite cookie. In addition, there was a drawing from each business for participating customers. There will be a socially distant cookie crunch this year on Nov. 14. 

Excellence in Marketing: South Huntsville Brand Launch 

South Huntsville Main hosted a brand reveal on June 6, 2019 with more than 150 community members attending. The organization offered  ice cream in branded cups, swag bags for guests, and a photo booth. There was more than $1,500 in merchandise sales. South Huntsville Main also redesigned its website – southhuntsvillemain.org – and saw an increase in traffic.

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.

A Brand New Time in South Huntsville or, Rather, a New Brand

In the next couple of months, south Huntsville will enter a new era. In fact, a “brand’ new era.

South Huntsville business owners, community members and government officials are coming together to create a vibrant and thriving district.

Extending from, essentially, Martin Road south to the Tennessee River, South Huntsville Main Street will be a corridor reflecting a diverse lifestyle of work and play.

Just imagine, driving south on the parkway through the Martin Road “tunnel.” On the “ceiling” and the sides are row upon row of colored lights.

Talk about a grand entrance!

And as you exit the “tunnel,” laid out in front of you are banners on the light poles welcoming visitors.

There are local businesses along the road, each touting their wares and inviting customers inside.

The South Huntsville Business Association, with Executive Director Bekah Schmidt and President Jerry Cargile, has been the impetus to improving this part of the city.

A major step was being accepted into Main Street Alabama, a nonprofit organization that uses a national model with a 40-year track record of revitalizing downtowns and neighborhoods.

The process concentrates in four areas: organization, design, promotion and economic vitality. Each one is guided by Main Street’s transformation strategy to remain focused on a specific market-based outcome.

With a solid and active SHBA, the organization stage is answered. The design aspect concerns itself with aesthetics and function, such as the tunnel lights, improved landscaping and redesigned parking areas.

Promotion will incorporate some of the design aspects as well as sharing information and marketing the district. Economic vitality is key in that there must be room and desire for businesses to grow and prosper.

To help in the process, SHBA has launched a South Huntsville Community Survey. It is anonymous and the feedback will help provide direction for businesses to grow in South Huntsville. The findings will be shared with the public at a community meeting June 6. You can find the survey at https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/sohunt. For information, visit http://shba.biz/

Also at the meeting, the Main Street Alabama officials will revisit south Huntsville to launch a branding presentation, which includes a logo for the district and several variations of it; a marketing strategy; and other information to help south Huntsville soar to new heights.

(Bud McLaughlin is editor of the Huntsville Business Journal. He can be heard every Wednesday at 6:30 a.m. with Fred Holland on WTKI-FM 105.3 and 1450 AM.)

Main Street Alabama Team to Visit South Huntsville, seeks public input

 

If you see “5 or 6 people bouncing around” south Huntsville over the next few days, there’s no need to call 911.

Most likely it’s the resource team from Main Street Alabama doing research as part of its task of making recommendations for the UrbanMain Street South Huntsville program.

Main Street Alabama began in 2009 to serve as state coordinator of the national Main Street program. It follows a 30-year-old model for community revitalization that has seen great success nationwide.

A nonprofit organization, Main Street Alabama stresses public-private partnerships, broad community engagement, and strategies that create jobs, spark new investment, attract visitors, and spur growth. Main Street builds on the authentic history, culture, and attributes of specific places, to bring sustainable change.

The resource team will collect information through meetings, interviews, on-the-street engagement, tours and the like. They will then present their recommendations at a meeting Thursday at 4:30 p.m. in the Grissom High School auditorium.

“It’s a great opportunity to see change and be involved in the change,” said Mary Helmer, the Main Street Alabama state coordinator.

On Tuesday, the team will take a driving and walking tour of the South Huntsville Main Street district – the South Memorial Parkway corridor from Golf Road to Ditto Landing. There will also be meetings with city officials, community and economic development officials, Realtors, property owners, civic groups and the like. There will be a public vision session 5-8 p.m. in the Grissom High School cafeteria.

The team will meet with business owners, religious leaders and students on Wednesday afternoon. Then, from 4-6 p.m., the team will hold “on-the-street” interviews with the community at Rosie’s Plaza.

“We’ll be grabbing people and asking questions,” Helmer said.

City Council President Jennie Robinson said this is an exciting time for south Huntsville.

“This kicks off three important days,” she said. “This is going to be a community process … this is a community vision.”

She said the area’s diversity represents challenges for the community.

“We need services for the graying community, certain things for the millennials and for the (Redstone) Arsenal, like car rentals, hotels, restaurants,” she said. “It will be interesting to see how Main Street gathers the information.”

Jerry Cargile, president of the South Huntsville Business Association, said the program is a boost for the community.

“With Main Street, we see an opportunity to face the challenges.”

What it all comes down to, however, is community participation and input, Helmer said.

“It’s time for the community to tell us,” she said. “This is South Huntsville’s UrbanMain Program.

“South Huntsville, it’s up to you.”

‘Main Street Alabama’ designation to make South Huntsville a ‘special place’

Main Street Alabama President Mary Helmer

There may be no specified downtown nor an entertainment district per se.

In fact, South Huntsville’s “main street” is a four-lane divided highway that carries a U.S. route designation.

But, the area that stretches from roughly south of Governors to drive to the Tennessee River is a Main Street Alabama community.

“I couldn’t be more thrilled to work with you guys,” Mary Helmer, Main Street Alabama president and state coordinator, said at a news conference Tuesday at the Doubletree Suites. “You’ll know when you arrive, you’re in a special place.”

Helmer said the work will start in early August when a resource team visits to develop a transformation strategy. The team includes Helmer and a group of national experts and the entire process will take place “over the next two or three years,” she said.

Huntsville Mayor Tommy Battle

South Huntsville Business Association President Jerry Cargile

Mayor Tommy Battle said a key to the transformation is the completion of the Parkway overpasses at Byrd Spring Road and Logan Drive/Lily Flagg Road – which he called “disruptive construction.”

“When the Parkway is opened, it bring the market to here,” he said. “All of a sudden, within a 10-minute drive, you have 200,000 people.”

Jerry Cargile, president of the South Huntsville Business Association, is looking forward to the economic growth the “Main Street Alabama” label will bring to the community.

“The journey begins today,” he said. “From a surviving district to one that is thriving.”

 

SHBA begins search for executive director

The South Huntsville Business Association (SHBA) announced today an executive search for the association’s first executive director. Applications will be accepted through June 20.

The SHBA was recently selected as one of three new Main Street designated communities in Alabama.

According to the organization, the new director will help promote economic development among South Huntsville businesses and spearhead activities related to the new Main Street Alabama designation. SHBA expects to have the right candidate in place by Aug. 6, in time for the official Main Street Alabama kickoff scheduled for the second week in August.

South Huntsville’s selection is unique because it is one of the first communities chose by the statewide delegation not located in a downtown urban district. The South Huntsville designation is essentially a commercial urban corridor that begins just north of Martin Road and extends south along Memorial Parkway to Ditto Landing and the Tennessee River.

The new SHBA executive director must have proven leadership skills, executive management and strategic economic planning experience, and possess a passion for impacting growth while viewing challenges through a creative lens, SHBA said.

Contact SHBA for more information at info@SHBA.biz.

South Huntsville selected as Main Street Alabama Community

South Huntsville has been designated a Main Street Alabama community, according to a statement Friday from the nonprofit Main Street Alabama organization.

The area of Huntsville will join a statewide effort to build stronger communities through effective downtown and neighborhood commercial district revitalization.

Main Street Alabama uses a national model with a 40-year track record of success to designate the towns and neighborhoods after a rigorous application process.

According to State Coordinator Mary Helmer, Main Street Alabama will immediately provide intensive board development, goal-setting, work-planning, market study with implementable economic development strategies, targeted technical assistance, and quarterly training related to downtown development.

“When a community is ready for Main Street, as South Huntsville is, the time-tested Four Point Approach works,” Helmer said. “It brings jobs, dollars and people back to neighborhood commercial districts.”

Helmer said the interview panel was impressed by the presentation from the South Huntsville Business Association and civic leaders that demonstrated a love of their community, a vision for what they could be, and the drive to make it happen. She said South Huntsville demonstrated strong community partnerships, an impressive organizational structure with exceptional leadership, and ability to financially support a program, which made them stand out in the field of applicants.

Developed starting in the 1950s, the era of the atomic ranch house, mid-century modern architecture reigns supreme in this community and recalls its historic connection to the nearby Redstone Arsenal (and Marshall Space Flight Center) and the golden era of space exploration,” the Main Street Alabama announcement said. “As home to numerous scientists throughout its history, this community’s residents produced scientific advancements that were the envy of the world. Over the past decade, (Huntsville) has been Alabama’s growth engine, and this local commercial district has become the preferred daytime destination for 40,000 employees at the … arsenal.

“Local residents and business owners have done their research and discovered a formula to develop connectivity between its natural resources and business assets, with greenways, river access and a natural preserve. They are ready to apply our UrbanMain Street approach, and we welcome this group of innovators, otherwise known as the South Huntsville Business Association, to our program. We know you will take your community to new heights!”

Each designated community reports its success by tracking reinvestment statistics. Main Street Alabama’s Designated communities have reported 488 net new businesses; 1,932 net new job; $282,679,772 in private investment; $74,257,229 in public improvements; and 61,201 volunteer hours in their districts collectively since June 2014.

For towns interested in becoming a designated Main Street Alabama community, application workshops will be held in January. Until then, communities interested in downtown and neighborhood commercial district revitalization can participate in Main Street Alabama’s Network.

Visit mainstreetalabama.org for information.