Montgomery Business Journal

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November/December 2016
By David Zaslawsky

HUNTING PARTNERSHIP FORMS

The newly created Hunting Works for Alabama organization already has 50-plus partners and expects to add dozens more.

The organization will promote hunting, which is big business in the state, generating $400-plus million annually from hunting trips and another $150 million on equipment, according to the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation. The state has 535,000 hunters annually, the foundation stated.

“Hunters spend millions of dollars annually and much of that money goes to local business owners and entrepreneurs,” Tim Wood, co-chair of the Hunting Works for Alabama, said in a statement. He is the general manager of Central Alabama Farmer’s Cooperative.

“Hunters are huge in the Black Belt and not just because they support businesses,” Pam Swanner, co-chair of Hunting Works for Alabama, said in a statement. She is the director of Alabama Black Belt Adventures.

“The money hunters spend to hunt, on their licenses, stamps and the taxes they pay on equipment is all earmarked for conservation,” she said. “More than most anyone else – hunters are the people paying to keep the outdoors wild and free for everyone else.”

NEW HOME FOR RHEEM

Rheem water heaters is moving to a new location next year, which includes combining two of its current Montgomery locations.

The company will move its local headquarters off Bell Road and customer care center to a facility at the interchange of Interstate 85 and Interstate Parkway. The manufacturing facility will remain at its current location at Gunter Industrial Park.

“Our business has grown substantially over the last several years and we see great momentum for the future of our Montgomery operations,” Rich Bendure, executive vice president and general manager of Rheem Water Heating Division, said in a statement.

“We’re excited to bring our employees together in a dynamic new space that’s modern and more collaborative.” 

The company is planning to open a water heating division next year in Alpharetta, Ga.

NEW TOOL FOR THE TOOLKIT

Montgomery Mayor Todd Strange was joined by Huntsville Mayor Tommy Battle and economic development officials to support Amendment 11 on the November ballot. The measure would help fund large industrial projects – $100 million investment and 250 acres – by creating a Tax Increment Financing Zone.

Improvements on the property such as water, roads, sewer and building would increase the property value and that revenue would be used for incentives to attract an industry.

“It’s all about making Alabama better,” Strange said. He said that it would make Alabama more competitive in recruiting industry.

GOOD BUDGET

Montgomery County Commission Chairman Elton N. Dean praised the county’s $108 million budget. “It’s a good budget, but we hope that we can continue to increase our revenue on lodging tax and sales tax,” he told the Montgomery Advertiser.

The commission approved placing $1.2 million in the Merit System Fund, which had not occurred for years.

RIPPLE EFFECT

Bishop-Parker furniture store is moving to a new location across from One Center, the site of the former Montgomery Mall, and is renovating a vacant building. A hotel is moving into Bishop-Parker’s former location on Coosa Street.

“This shows you the ripple effect of what happens, and it’s good news when there’s development,” Mayor Todd Strange said during a news conference to announce SpringHill Suites taking over Bishop-Parker’s old location.

CLEANING UP

The City of Montgomery’s litter initiative produced some impressive results right from the beginning. In just a three-day period, 1.4 tons of trash was collected in 239 bags over a 32-mile span. About 3.5 tons of litter was collected in the first month of the campaign across 65 miles.

BACK IN BUSINESS

VictoryLand reopened after three years with long lines outside the casino and people waiting to find one of the 500 available electronic slot machines inside.

FAULKNER UNIVERSITY EXPANSION

Faulkner University broke ground on a $3.6 million residence hall to help ease with overcrowding. The university, which has 3,300-plus students, had its largest freshmen class this past fall semester of 360 students.

“We’re actually over capacity in our dorms right now,” Faulkner University President Mike Williams told the Montgomery Advertiser. The new dorm is scheduled to open in fall 2017.

SMOOTH SAILING

Keon Davis, the owner of Smooth-N-Groove, opened a location inside the Walmart on Atlanta Highway. He has trucks and other locations, including Auburn University, where his business was launched.

And that business has taken off quite nicely. He expected his revenue to climb from $469,000 in 2015 to $800,000 this year and $1.3 million in 2017.

IT'S FINALLY OPEN

Whole Foods Market is now open at Chase Corner, a shopping center developed by Aronov Realty.

Whole Foods is a newcomer to Montgomery. The company, which had sales of $15.4 billion last year, opened its first store in 1980 in Austin, Texas. It now has 456 stores and 87,000 employees.

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