Montgomery Business Journal

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May 2016

PRESTIGIOUS AWARD

The City of Montgomery has won the prestigious 2015 Altus Trophy from the Altus, Okla. Chamber of Commerce.

Since 2010, the Altus Chamber has presented the award to a community for its outstanding support of an Air Education and Training Command base.

“We're incredibly humbled to receive this distinction, but we are even more humbled by the unwavering service and sacrifice of the Airmen who call or have called Montgomery home,” Strange said in a statement.

Col. Andrea Tullos, commander of the 42nd Air Base Wing, which includes Maxwell Air Force Base and Gunter Annex, said in a statement: “The City of Montgomery is truly deserving of this award. The city officials and the business community set the tone, but every member of the community I come across extends a welcoming hand, a warm heart and sincerely asks what they can do to support our military personnel and their families. We're fortunate to be able to call Montgomery home." The Montgomery Area Chamber of Commerce plays an active role with Maxwell-Gunter Air Force Base, organizing appreciation events, working with Alabama’s congressional delegation on behalf of military needs, and creating community initiatives that benefit the military community.

GREAT THINGS TO COME

With the Montgomery Internet Exchange in place, there are some plenty lofty goals, including this one from Boyd Stephens, founder of Netelysis and a network engineer. He talked about “leveraging the Internet exchange to do something that people have been somewhat shy talking about because they never felt they could deliver it and that’s offering high-speed Internet for all the citizens of Montgomery.

“We think we have a plan; a way to pay for it. We think that we have a strategy, but again we’re going to under-promise and try to over-deliver.”

Montgomery Mayor Todd Strange said: “When I hear Boyd Stephens talk I get excited.” He said that the city “tries to give them (tech community) some resources and get the heck out of the way …”

Stephens said that people are working on projects for workforce development, talent development and coding academies. He talked about “leveraging some under-utilized talent in our community” and said he was especially referring to women.

MILLENNIALS' IMPACT

What’s on the horizon for the city’s Millennials? According to Montgomery Downtown Business Association President Clay McInnis it’s more co-working spaces; moving to densely populated areas such as downtown. “And we are thirsty for more data and we’re thirsty for more content and we’re thirsty for more information.”

ATTENTION ENTREPRENEURS

Walmart is spending an additional $250 billion over 10 years on products made in America and companies have an opportunity to pitch their products June 28 in Bentonville, Ark.

“We are opening our doors and making our buyers available to meet with suppliers with one goal in mind – buy more American products,” Cindi Marsiglio, vice president of U.S. sourcing and manufacturing for Walmart, said in a statement.

The deadline to register for the open call is May 27. Details are available at www.walmart-jump.com.

HYUNDAI SETS RECORDS

Let’s just say that March was a great month for Hyundai. The Korean automaker set an all-time monthly sales record of 75,310 units, which broke the previous mark of 75,019 set last March. It was also a record-setting first quarter with 173,330 units sold.

Sonata enjoyed its best month ever with 28,778 units sold. That shattered the previous record of 25,195 units sold in June 2014 – a difference of nearly 3,600 units. The Sonata as well as the company’s Elantra are built at the Hyundai Motor Manufacturing Alabama plant in Montgomery.

GROUP EFFORT

Dozens of organizations worked together to create a five-mile cycling, hiking trail and recreation area through 176 acres of Lagoon Park. It will be a future site for festivals, events and even competitions.

There was more than 6,000 hours of volunteer work to complete the trail.

BIG THANK-YOU FOR BEASLEY ALLEN

Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley thanked the Beasley Allen law firm for helping the state receive a $2.3 billion settlement for the BP oil spill. Jere Beasley, the firm’s founder and shareholder, said that without Bentley’s direct involvement the state would have settled for pennies on the dollar.

And speaking of dollars, Bentley noted that the state has not paid Beasley Allen. “We’re working on it,” Bentley said and noted that the firm was out money. “One million dollars,” Beasley said from his table.

CHURCH BUILDING FACILITY

John Stanley, president and broker of John Stanley & Associates sold 25 acres of land on Taylor Road to Church of the Highlands. The church is planning to build a 55,000-square-foot building.

NEW RESTAURANT COMES TO TOWN

It’s common for retailers to choose EastChase as their first location in Montgomery and sometimes it is their first location in the state.

That is the case with Fazoli’s, which planned opened at EastChase and is the company’s first restaurant in Alabama. The fast-casual Italian restaurant chain has more than 200 sites in 26 states. Its headquarters is in Lexington, Ky.

The Montgomery location will seat 75 and will have a drive-thru. The owner is Rakesh Patel, who also owns two Schlotzsky’s and two Bruster’s Real Ice Cream franchises in Montgomery.

“It is always exciting to enter a new city and Montgomery fits in very well with our strategy to expand in the Southeast,” Fazoli’s President and CEO Carl Howard said in a statement.

RENT GROWTH, OCCUPANCY RISE

Montgomery saw apartment occupancy rate grow last year and there was an increase in rents, according to the Birmingham-based Rock Apartment Advisors.

The Capital City had an overall average occupancy rate of nearly 94 percent and an average rent growth of 286 basis points over 2014, which is almost 3 percent. The annual survey stated that Montgomery absorbed 381 units from 2014 to 2015.

“The stability of markets in Alabama, Florida’s Emerald Coast and Chattanooga is attracting more investors’ attention as these groups frequently look outside of the Southeast’s primary markets in search of yield,” Bo Flurry, managing director of Rock Apartment Advisors, said in a statement. “With an unprecedented amount of capital seeking multifamily acquisition opportunities across the Gulf South coupled with employment momentum in these markets, the region will likely continue to see further growth throughout 2016.”

Other Montgomery findings were:

> The Inside the Boulevard submarket jumped from 83.5 percent in 2012 to 97.1 percent in 2015. Rents in the submarket jumped by more than 3.5 percent during that span.

> There are 482 units under construction and another 390 units planned at the time of the survey.

> Rock Apartment Advisors is a multifamily brokerage firm.

BIG DIVIDEND HIKE

ServisFirst Bancshares Inc. increased its dividend 33.3 percent to 8 cents a share. It was payable April 15 to stockholders of record April 11. ServisFirst Bancshares is the holding company for ServisFirst Bank.

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