“The State of Alabama is our partner in helping our region prepare for and promote our growth. State government has a tremendous impact on what happens in Huntsville and Madison County. Decisions made in Montgomery play a critical role shaping everything from our education policy to determining what critical infrastructure improvements are made,” said Kevin Byrnes, the Chair of the Huntsville/Madison County Chamber, as he kicked off the 2020 Montgomery Trip. “Support from the State helps determine how prepared we are as a region to face our future growth,” he added.
Over the course of the two-day trip on March 10-11, the Chamber delegation of nearly 90 people met with some of the key decision makers driving Alabama’s growth.
“We were delighted to co-host our State Government Leader reception this year with the Decatur-Morgan County and Greater Limestone Chambers of Commerce,” said Ken Tucker, Chairman of the Huntsville/Madison County Chamber’s State Government Committee. “Such cooperation only serves to reinforce the healthy regional cooperation that we enjoy.”
The Montgomery Trip also provided an opportunity to press the issues contained in the Chamber’s 2020 State Agenda with the legislative and executive branches of state government.
This year’s Chamber State Agenda focuses on 13 key issues: Pre-K – 12 Education; Workforce Development; Workforce Recruitment; Higher Education; Bioscience; Medicaid Expansion; Road Infrastructure Improvements; Enhancing Alabama’s Economic Development Environment; Updating Alabama’s antiquated ABC laws; Stopping Predatory Lending; Development of Exploration Park; Extending Broadband; and Expanding Alabama’s Cybersecurity capabilities.
Successful workforce development and recruitment efforts are critical issues for the region’s success. With approximately 27,000 jobs announced in the last 10 years, training our local workforce and attracting talent to this area has become “job one”, according to Chamber President and CEO Chip Cherry. “We must effectively execute our workforce efforts. We need everyone – Pre-K through postgraduate universities, including the two-year schools, contributing to help us fulfill the economic opportunities that we’ve been presented with,” said Cherry. “Likewise, we need to be on the road, telling the Huntsville story in a way that attracts people to the region.”
In order for the region to keep up with the anticipated growth, the State Agenda also identifies key investments in road infrastructure and other factors that help to sustain the high quality of life that we currently enjoy. These investments include broadening access to our healthcare systems and broadband networks and further enhancing our cyber capabilities.
Other factors that will enhance the local quality of life include updating Alabama’s antiquated ABC laws that adversely affect local distillers, brewers and wineries. Nurturing the development of these new industries not only helps to attract jobs to the region, it also plays an important role supporting the region’s quality of life.
by Mike Ward, CCE
Senior VP, Government & Public Affairs
Huntsville/Madison County Chamber