REGINALD McKENZIE: NORTH HUNTSVILLE BUSINESS ASSOCIATION IS READY

NHBA is ready to play a major role in economic development in North Huntsville.

By Reginald McKenzie, Executive Director, North Huntsville Business Association (NHBA) with courtesy photos

J.O. Johnson Legacy Center

A few years ago our City leaders (led by Dr. Richard Showers Sr.) had the insight to create the North Huntsville Industrial Park (NHIP). The first tenant was Toyota Manufacturing a $1.2B investment with approximately1, 800 manufacturing jobs.

Dr. Showers planted the seed and watched it grow and Council Devyn Keith took the baton in 2016 and continued applying water and nutrients to ensure it flourished. In 2018, Devyn Keith became the President of the City Council and during that term Facebook announced it was building a facility in the NHIP, a $1.5B in investment and 300 high-tech jobs and the city announced a 10.8 million dollar investment in the North Huntsville Library.

In 2019, Aerojet Rocketdyne built a multimillion dollar facility in the park as well. The business association will be working closely with these firms to ensure District 1 receives its fair share of the jobs at these facilities.

In 2019, the Latana Parkway frontage was cleared, Rural King located in the former Gander Mountain location, Madison County Complex was approved, Full Moon Barbeque announced a location in North Huntsville and H.C. Blake redevelop property on North Parkway where the North Huntsville Business Association is currently located. NHBA was also instrumental in Betty Maes and KIMS restaurant re-locating to the complex.

Councilman Keith led the effort for the new Johnson Legacy Center and ongoing construction of the new subdivision and homes which will play a huge role in recruiting new retail to the community. New home construction is a critical factor in retailers determining where they will choose to build new retail (grocery stores, apparel, restaurants, etc.).

In addition to setting conditions for new retail, the ability to secure new hotels to a particular part of town is dependent on travel activity of that area. The new jobs and companies locating in the North Huntsville Industrial Park and the upcoming Alabama A&M Event Center will significantly help attract a new hotel in North Huntsville in the future.

NORTH HUNTSVILLE HOTEL EFFORTS TO DATE:

North Huntsville is prime and ready for 1 or 2 hotels in the area. In 2017, the NHBA was able to broker an agreement between AMT, a minority owned company out of Birmingham and the City of Huntsville to build a 4 story 86 room Comfort Inn-Suites Hotel on the campus of Alabama A&M University.

In 2018, AAMU Board of Trustees voted against the proposal and subsequently announced that they would use a firm out of Tennessee to build a hotel anchoring its new Event Center.

In February 2019, AMT put earnest money on land adjacent to AAMU to build the Comfort Inn and Suites. The deal eventually fell through when the owner took ill.

In December 2019, NHBA recruited BAR Hotel LLC (a minority-owned company) out of Madison Alabama to build the Hotel. The President of BAR, LLC recently sold a hotel in Madison and was eager to build his next one in North Huntsville. BAR, LLC sent the City a letter of intent to build the Hotel north of AAMU. During the process of negotiating the price for the land COVID-19 hit and the project stalled.

Last week, we received a call from an investor in Maryland who not only want to build the hotel but would like to bring other investments to North Huntsville. We will be working close with this investor to continue our efforts in attracting businesses to North Huntsville.

North Huntsville Major Grocery Store:

COVID-19 has caused a delay in an announcement for a Grocery Store to be built in North Huntsville.

The NHBA has three major goals for 2021: jor goals for 2021:

1) We will continue to reach out to Grocery stores to build in North Huntsville. My understanding is that they count new rooftops when deciding to build grocery stores in a particular area but slightlyused rooftops spend plenty of money at their stores.

2) We will encourage the contractor of the Amphitheater to phone a friend regarding building a Hotel in North Huntsville to support the Amphitheater.

3) Also, we will start the process of identifying the right place to build our own providence-like development in North Huntsville.

Weare ready for the challenge and look forward to working with the North Huntsville community, the Mayor, City Council and Administration on these projects.