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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.

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.

Freedom Real Estate, Torch Technologies, Invariant Break Ground on Mixed-Use Facility

Freedom Real Estate & Capital, Torch Technologies and Invariant Corp. have announced they will be breaking ground on a mixed-use facility in South Huntsville, with a targeted completion date in summer 2021.

The groundbreaking ceremony, cancelled due to COVID-19, was set to take place at the end of April. This new development follows the 2019 completion of Torch’s Technology Integration and Prototyping Center.

Freedom, a real estate investment company, will develop the facility at 4040 Chris Drive, and has leased the first two spaces to Torch and Invariant, with opportunity for an additional tenant. The multi-tenant building will house up to 92,000 square feet and will feature a mix of office, research and development labs, light manufacturing, assembly and integration space along with a high bay.

Torch, a 100 percent employee-owned services and solutions defense contractor founded in 2002 in Huntsville, has shown its continued commitment to the redevelopment of and investment in South Huntsville through the rapid growth of its Huntsville headquarters. Torch’s campus consisted of two buildings in 2015 and, just five years later, the company is breaking ground on its sixth building.

Rendering shows the Freedom-Torch-Invariant facility from the south parking lot.

“We are proud to work alongside the city and state in our continued efforts to improve the standard of living in our South Huntsville community,” said John Watson, president and CEO of Torch.

Invariant, a Huntsville-based engineering services and software development company founded in 2001, is expanding into the facility to support its continued growth.

“We are excited to grow and expand into this new facility that will provide our employees the resources needed to ensure quality services and products are delivered to our customers, and we are proud to be a part of Huntsville’s continuing success,” said David Anderson, president of Invariant.

The project is part of a continued effort to redevelop South Huntsville.

The city has been working to reclaim, modernize and upgrade the area along South Memorial Parkway to encourage investment and redevelopment in the area, and is seeing progress with the announcements of new projects, including Hays Farm.

“Torch has been a catalyst for South Huntsville’s revitalization since the very beginning,” said Bekah Schmidt, CEO of South Huntsville Business Main Association. “The new facility at 4040 Chris Drive is a mixed-use facility with a state-of-the-art laboratory and premier manufacturing space.

“We look forward to seeing this project completed next year and appreciate Torch’s continued investment in South Huntsville.”

Bill Roark, co-founder of Torch Technologies and CEO of Freedom Real Estate & Capital, said, “We are proud to be able to contribute to economic development and growth in South Huntsville. This community is our home, and we look forward to watching it grow and thrive for years to come.”

How to Help Neighborhood Businesses During the Coronavirus Outbreak

By Bekah Schmidt

It has never been more important to support our local small business community. The Coronavirus outbreak is affecting brick and mortars all over the nation, and no business is immune to this national emergency.

Here are five ways you can support small businesses in Huntsville, from your couch or car.

  1. Order takeout or delivery from your favorite independent restaurants

Your favorite restaurant may have shut its doors, but you can still order online through apps such as Grub Hub, Grub South, Door Dash and more. Independent restaurant owners are transitioning their servers to deliverers. Call the store first and ask what the best delivery method is for the restaurant. Most restaurants are offering curbside service too, which allows for touchless delivery to your vehicle. If you do use an online delivery app, Grub Hub is waiving fees for independent restaurant owners, so more of your money will end up in the restaurant owner’s pocket.

  1. Look for take and bake options or ready-made meals

Several businesses are offering meals to go for the whole family versus individual meals. This is more cost effective for the business owner and consumer and requires less touch points in handling of the food. Good Company Café is offering a “take and bake” menu, and Kathleen’s Catering is offering dinner for 6 for $35.99! Ordering dinner from a local restaurant, versus going to the grocery store reduces the amount of touch points and exposure you have to the general public. (A small restaurant might have a staff of five or less – going to the grocery store you are exposed to hundreds of people.) One last tip, you can also freeze the meals for later.

  1. Shop your favorite local retailers online

Retail stores are moving their business online and to their social media accounts – which is where customers are, too. You can still pick up a birthday gift for a friend or find the perfect home décor for spring from your couch. Businesses are posting their products online and invoicing customers. Other retailers are offering curbside pickup or delivery. Ruth’s Nutrition, a vitamin store in South Huntsville, is taking orders and payments over the phone, and bringing your order to your car, so you don’t have to leave your vehicle.

  1. Purchase a Gift Card

Purchasing a gift card to a local business is a great way to support the local economy right now. The business gets the cash they need now – and you get to treat yourself later! Most businesses offer gift cards online. If you don’t see a gift card online option, call the store. Business owners are mailing out gift certificates to customers or offering curbside gift card delivery. Even if it is only $20, it makes a huge difference for our local businesses.

  1. Write a positive review

The Coronavirus outbreak has caught everyone off guard and our small business owners are all feeling the pressure of the unknown. As a customer you can like, comment, share and review our businesses and inspire others to do the same. It takes less than a minute to leave a positive review. When you review a business, you build consumer confidence and encourage others to shop local. As many businesses transition to doing most of their business online, business owners will rely on your feedback to improve their processes.

Bekah Schmidt is the executive director of the South Huntsville Main Business Association.

 

 

 

 

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.

‘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.”

 

 

Redstone Federal, South Huntsville Business Main Announce Business Facade Grants

South Huntsville is about to undergo a facelift.

Or, rather, a façade lift.

Business owners in South Huntsville will be able to apply for money to improve/update their storefronts through the Façade Improvement Grant Program.

The program, sponsored by Redstone Federal Credit Union, was announced Monday by the South Huntsville Main Business Association.

“With the generous contribution of Redstone Federal Credit Union, we are proud to be able to provide this innovative approach to improving the aesthetics of our district,’’ said Bekah Schmidt, executive director of the South Huntsville Main Business Association. “Façade Improvement Grants have had great success in other Main Street communities, such as Birmingham and Gadsden.

“We look forward to seeing the impact this new Façade Improvement Grant Program has on our district.”

The program is designed to promote the improvement of commercial and multi-use properties in the South Huntsville Main district by helping property owners upgrade, rehabilitate, and preserve the façades of eligible structures in the South Huntsville Main district.

The program aims to make revitalization efforts affordable by providing one-third of matching grant funds up to $5,000. Qualifying applications must identify the source of the additional funds required to complete the project within a calendar year of the award date.

After surveying its business owners, the South Huntsville Main Business Association found that most of the South Huntsville building stock was built before 1980. The market study also indicated that both the consumers and b

Redstone is excited about this opportunity to serve small businesses, said John Cook, the credit union’s vice president of lending.

“Redstone is committed to walking alongside the area’s small businesses owners to provide the resources they need to not only survive, but to thrive and grow,’’ said Cook. “That’s why Redstone is excited to partner with the South Huntsville Main Business Association in supporting the Facade Improvement Grant Program.’’

Façade Improvement Grants are provided to owners who apply, and are selected, in recognition of the positive impacts that individual building improvements can have on overall appearance, quality, growth, and vitality of the district.

Additional benefits of the Façade Improvement Grant Program include:

  • Encouraging new private investment the South Huntsville Main District in the form of fixed asset contributions related to exterior building improvements;
  • Preserving, enhancing, and restoring the historical and architectural significance of buildings in South Huntsville;
  • Perpetuating a positive and proactive business climate in South Huntsville that encourages the revitalization of buildings and supports business improvement.

Interested business and property owners inside the South Huntsville Main district are invited to attend the Façade Improvement Grant Workshop on Sept. 23, at 3 p.m. at the Huntsville Hub. The deadline to apply for the grant allocation is Oct. 15, 2019.

More information, including the application and grant requirements can be found at shba.biz.

 

 

South Huntsville Selected for AARP Livable Community Grant

Bicycle racks featuring the South Huntsville compass logo will be popping up around the area. (Rendering by Bruce Wendendorf)

South Huntsville has been awarded an AARP Livable Community Challenge grant, the South Huntsville Main Business Association announced.

The grant is one of 159 awarded nationwide through AARP’s “quick action” grant program. The Huntsville Planning Department was instrumental in South Huntsville applying for the grant.

Funds from the grant will be used to produce more than 35 bicycle racks with the South Huntsville compass logo. Designed and created by Bruce Wendendorf, the racks will be placed in front of businesses and public places in South Huntsville.

The South Huntsville Main Business Association has partnered with Turner Construction to install the bike racks.

The racks will be installed from August to November.

Turner Construction Completes Work on Torch Technologies Integration and Prototyping Center

Turner Construction has completed work on Torch Technologies’ Technology Integration and Prototyping Center.

The $10 million facility at 4050 Chris Drive in Huntsville is part of Torch Technologies’ growing campus in South Huntsville and consists of a 35,000-square-foot, two-story office space with an attached 10,000-square-foot high-bay facility. It incorporates offices, labs and open vertical spaces where large pieces of equipment can be installed and tested.

Torch Technologies continues to invest in its South Huntsville campus, supporting the City of Huntsville’s efforts to redevelop South Huntsville, a once vibrant area of town that is seeing an increase in development.

The new Technology Integration and Prototyping Center is located across the street from the Freedom Center, a project Turner completed in 2017 that included the renovation of a 40,000-square-foot, four-story building at 4090 South Memorial Parkway to create Torch Technologies’ current headquarters.

“Our previous experience building defense and aerospace facilities in Huntsville and elsewhere made us ideally suited for this project,” said project executive Lee Holland of Turner’s Huntsville office. “We’re very pleased to continue our partnership with Freedom Real Estate & Capital and Torch Technologies and to help in the continued revival of South Huntsville.”

Collaborating with Turner on the project were Matheny Goldmon Architects AIA; 4Site (civil engineering and landscape architecture); SSOE (mechanical and electrical engineers); and PEC Structural Engineering.

“Having worked with Turner in the past on the construction of the Freedom Center, we knew the outstanding quality of work that the company is capable of delivering,” said Bill Roark of Torch Technologies and Freedom Real Estate. “Our Technology Integration and Prototyping Center will enable Torch to take on more complex projects than before, including developing instruments to advance warhead testing.”