Montgomery Business Journal

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April 2016

'WOW'

Four people from the Metropolitan Opera were in town and said that they had never been to Montgomery. What was their reaction? In a word, “wow.” They said, ‘We didn’t know that Montgomery, Alabama, has what you have,’ according to Montgomery Mayor Todd Strange.

“That’s what we need continually over and over and over again,” Strange said at the State of the City annual speech. “With your help – all of us working together – we can get there.”

HAMPSTEAD UPDATE

Hampstead plans to open its Lido Pool in the summer and is calling it the “largest neighborhood pool in the Montgomery region.”

In addition to the pool, there will be lounging areas, fire pit and venue space for private events. The pool is adjacent to Hampstead Lake.

NEW PARK

Montgomery County Commission has hired Goodwyn, Mills and Cawood to design a park that would be located on Old Selma Road.

NEW HOME

EAT South is moving to the city retail incubator at the corner of Commerce and Tallapoosa streets. The nonprofit organization promotes healthy eating and sustainable farming.

“We are very grateful to the City of Montgomery for the opportunity to work in the heart of our city – in close proximity to the Downtown Farm and in a visible and accessible location surrounded by local restaurants and shops that contribute to the sustainability of our communities,” Liz Laroche, interim executive director for EAT South, said in a statement.

The organization will sell merchandise and event tickets at its new location. EAT South’s downtown farm is just two blocks away.

RESTRUCTURING

The City of Montgomery’s Development Department and Planning Department are being combined after five years as separate entities.

Mac McLeod will lead the Planning and Development Department and Robert Smith will continue to use his current title as director of planning. McLeod was previously in charge of the Development Department.

HIGH ACCOLADES FOR SONATA

The 2016 Hyundai Sonata, which is made in Montgomery at the Hyundai Motor Manufacturing Alabama plant, was named a Kelley Blue Book Best Family Car.

A group of vehicles was tested for two weeks for family use and the Sonata received high marks for such things as ease of installing a child seat and its “cavernous” trunk and rear seats that fold down to increase cargo space.

The KBB.com editors considered child seats, rear-seat entertainment, cargo space, safety and comfort and driving.

“Earning the designation of a Best Family Car by the expert automotive editors at Kelley Blue Book means the Sonata passed not only the safety test, but also the test on the ease of car seat installations and more – meeting needs of the modern family,” Mike O’Brien, vice president of product and corporate planning for Hyundai Motor America, said in a statement.

TOP YOUNG PROFESIONAL

EMERGE Montgomery President Ashley Taylor was named Young Professional of the Year.

Taylor, manager with the valuation and  litigation consulting group at Jackson Thornton, said she “was in complete shock” when the award was announced. “When talking to the other nominees, none of us prepared a speech because we all assumed the other was more deserving,” she said in a statement. The other nominees were Clay McInnis, owner of Commerce Consulting and president of the Downtown Business Association; and Serena McCovery, orientation coordinator for Auburn University at Montgomery.

The Young Professional of the Year Award recognizes the achievements of individuals 22-40 years old.

“We look forward to next year and are excited to expand the awards gala to include several more categories and highlight even more young professionals making moves in the River Region” EMERGE Montgomery Vice President Ashley Jernigan said in a statement.

INTERNATIONAL LANGUAGES

A new center for the expanded study of foreign languages will be at Troy University’s Montgomery campus. The Center for International Language and Culture will offer Mandarin and Korean. It will have offices at the Rosa Parks Library and Museum.

Troy University is joining with Alabama-Korean Education and Economic Partnership to create the center.

TRAINING FOR UTILITY LINE WORKERS

Alabama Power Co. will partner with Montgomery Preparatory Academy for Career Technologies for a line worker pilot program. The school is scheduled to open in August at One Center, which is the former site of the Montgomery Mall.

KRESS BUILDING UPDATE

A $12.6 million building permit has been issued for additions and alterations to the Kress building on Dexter Avenue. The general contractor is Birmingham-based Brasfield & Gorrie.

Two floors will be added for 30,000 square feet of residential space and there is about 75,000 square feet of space for retail on the first floor.

The building is owned by ELSAJA Properties, a subsidiary of MarJam, a national building materials supply company, which has eight locations in Alabama, including one in Montgomery.

LAMP NO. 1 IN ALABAMA

Loveless Academic Magnet Program High School was ranked first in the state and 160th nationally by Niche while Booker T. Washington Magnet High was No. 16 in the state. Both are in the Montgomery Public Schools district.

Niche rates public high schools on such factors as academics, teachers, health and safety, student culture and diversity, resources and facilities, sports and fitness and surveys from parents and students.

GROWTH IN MONTGOMERY

Walmart has opened its second Neighborhood Market in Montgomery this year after earlier announcing the closure of 154 stores nationwide, including nine in Alabama.

The company’s newest Neighborhood Market is on Vaughn Road near the Taylor Road intersection. The Neighborhood Market stores are around 40,000 square feet, or about one-quarter the size of a supercenter, and employ around 95 people.

The first Neighborhood Market store in Montgomery – a $10 million project – is on Federal Drive on part of the former site of Bonnie Crest Country Club’s golf course.

A ROAD LESS TRAVELED

Montgomery County Commission Chairman Elton N. Dean Sr. ended his State of the County speech with the following: “So, now we find ourselves at the proverbial fork in the road. We can go down the path that we’ve been on for far too long. It is an easier trail and we can continue to do what we have been doing for so many years. Or we can take the other road – the path to closing the inequality gap; take on big challenges; and getting results. That’s the path I choose today and I ask my fellow elected officials to join me. We’ve got one chance to get this right. Let’s seize it.”

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