Montgomery Business Journal

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MASSIVE CONTRACT
Caddell Construction Co. has been awarded a $111 million contract to build a nuclear power training facility at Goose Creek, S.C. The project includes both renovation and construction of new buildings.

The contract has six options and two planned modifications, which could increase the contract to $158 million.

NO. 1 IN AP TESTS
Alabama is the top state when it comes to improvements in passing Advanced Placement tests – a 136 percent gain during a six-year period vs. a national average of 49 percent.

A $13.2 million program, started in 2008 to improve AP test scores in Alabama, is now in 118 schools with a goal of 200 schools by 2020. Those successful test scores surged from 4,037 six years ago to 9,534 this year.

“It’s good to be No. 1 in something other than football,” Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley told The Associated Press.

The program has saved parents an estimated $36 million from students receiving college credits for passing an AP test.

MAKING THE LIST
Montgomery-based Bell Media was ranked No. 3453 on the Inc. 5000 list of the fastest-growing private companies in 2014.

The list was compiled from the percentage of revenue growth from 2010-2013. Requirements included that the companies had at least $2 million in revenue in 2013 and at least $100,000 revenue in 2010.

THREE CHEERS
Strange praised a group of Montgomery tech entrepreneurs, who have held a couple of meetings to capitalize on the region’s strength of universities, automotive sector and information technology sector.

The group’s goal is sharing ideas and finding solutions to make Montgomery a great place to live, work and play. There is talk about holding an event dedicated to solving a single problem.

For Strange, “what was so exciting is I don’t know about it. It is not government doing it. It’s the entrepreneurial spirit that’s alive and well and out there.” 

BOUNCING BACK
Second-quarter residential sales in the Montgomery area were the best in four years with 1,023 units and 3.5 percent better than the same period last year, according to the Alabama Center for Real Estate. Total residential sales in the 2010 second quarter were 1,108 units.

The latest quarterly sales were 16.3 percent greater than the three-year average from 2011-2013 and 10 percent more than the five-year average from 2009-2013.

The 2014 sales figure is comparable to 2001 (1,069 units) and 2002 (1,069), but still 41 percent below the 2005 high of 1,725 units.

ALLIGATORS MADE DEBUT
Alligators have a new home at the Montgomery Zoo. The $300,000-plus exhibit took about 11 months to complete and will eventually have five alligators. 

“We’ve had so many people talk about what a gem this is,” Strange said about the zoo. “This is truly a great partnership between private industry and government.”

The City of Montgomery, Montgomery Area Zoological Society, Rita Sabel, Alabama Power and Hyundai Motor Manufacturing Alabama all contributed to the alligator exhibit.

BRUNCH A SUCCESS
The Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts has extended its Saturday brunch through December. The brunch is served 10 a.m.-1 p.m. and prices range from $9 to $13 for such entrees as smoked pork chop, apple kolaches, crab cake benedict, huevas rancheros, a traditional breakfast plate, breakfast sandwich and curry chicken salad. The menu does vary.

 

FREE SERVICE

The Lightning Route Lunch Line offers downtown workers and residents a free ride during lunch hours. Passengers will be picked up at various locations on Commerce Street and Dexter Avenue from 11 a.m.-1:30 p.m.

The lunch line, which is operated by David Sadler, is an electric golf cart. It’s being called U-Go-MGM cart.

ON THE RADAR
After it was announced that Whole Foods was coming in 2016 to Chase Corner in East Montgomery, several national companies have shown an interest in the Capital City, according to Montgomery Mayor Todd Strange.

“Having Whole Foods come here is huge,” Strange said. “To get a Whole Foods to come to your community … sends the message to the other retailers out there.”

It was four years ago that Strange was part of a local contingent that took a site visit to Austin, Texas, looking at best practices and areas that might be considered for Montgomery.

Strange, along with The Colonial Co. Chairman James Lowder and Dawn Hathcock, vice president, Montgomery Area Chamber of Commerce Convention & Visitor Bureau, visited a corporate office of Whole Foods. They met with the president of the Southeast region and the head of development.

The 40,000-square-foot Whole Foods will be across from the EastChase development off Taylor Road and is part of an Aronov Realty Management project.

OPENING SOON
Strange said that “there is light at the end of the tunnel” for Genetta Park. The project has been around for years and is expected to open in October. It is located on the West Fairview Avenue by Interstate 65.

HYUNDAI SALES SIZZLE
August was a memorable month for Hyundai sales in the U.S. The company sold 70,003 vehicles for an all-time August record and was only the second time that the Korean automaker topped 70,000 sales in a month.

Hyundai also topped 500,000 units for the year - in the fastest time in history. “Sales continued to gain momentum as the month progressed and we finished the Labor Day holiday weekend strong, Bob Pradzinski, vice president of national sales for Hyundai Motor America, said in a statement.

Elantra sales for August were 22,845 units – its sixth best month and Sonata sales (21,092) were its 10th best month. Sonata sales were up 25 percent from the previous August. Both vehicles are produced at the Hyundai Motor Manufacturing Alabama facility in Montgomery.

LOFTY HONOR
Auburn University at Montgomery has been named one of the best colleges in the Southeast by The Princeton Review while its College of Business was named a 2014 Best Business School by The Princeton Review.

The Princeton Review wrote: “It’s easy to understand why undergraduates are attracted to Auburn University at Montgomery. After all, from the moment you set foot on campus, it’s evident that this is a school where professors and administrators are genuinely interested in students’ learning and development.

“It is an honor to be recognized by The Princeton Review as a Best Business School, and an extraordinary accomplishment of our college,” Rhea Ingram, dean of the business college, said in a statement. “It speaks volumes to the dedication of our faculty, staff and students. We are committed to excellence, and are constantly noted for our reputation of excellence, faculty who bring in real-world experiences, and connections to the business community.”

The College of Business has departments in accounting, information systems and management, economics, finance and marketing.

GRAND OPENING
The Montgomery Area Food Bank celebrated the opening of its $2 million, 23,600-square-foot expansion. The organization distributes food to 35 counties and is the largest food bank in the state.

The food bank helps more than 330,000 people a year, distributing 20 million-plus pounds of food.

HEALTHY CREDIT UNIONS
MAX Credit Union and Alabama State Employees Credit Union were both ranked on Top 200 Healthiest Credit Unions in the country by DepositAccounts.com.

MAX, which has 295 employees and 104,663 members, was ranked 45th while ASE was ranked No. 141. It has 27,880 members.

More than 6,000 credit unions were ranked on such factors as capitalization, deposit growth and loan to reserve ratios.

ALABAMA POWER NAMED TO PRESTIGIOUS LIST
Alabama Power was one of 10 named to Site Selection magazine’s annual list of the top utilities in economic development.

The criteria used in determining the list included energy efficiency, innovative programs, renewable energy projects and incentives for clients.

“Utilities play a key role as participants in the economic development efforts of cities, regions and all areas working to improve their local business climate,” Mark Arend, editor in chief of Site Selection, said in a statement. “This year’s top utilities were particularly successful in this endeavor in 2013.”

The article is in the September 2014 edition of Site Selection and online at www.siteselection.com.

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