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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.”

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.