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Alabama’s most influential commerce group celebrates three decades of pro-business victories

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BIRMINGHAM, Ala. — Alabama has garnered significant attention in recent years for its burgeoning business and manufacturing sectors. While many factors deserve credit for this growth and success, one group in particular has spent the last 30 years advocating for Alabama’s producers.

The Business Council of Alabama observed its 30th birthday this month, and since its founding in 1985, it has worked hard to improve Alabama’s business climate for current and future generations of Alabama’s business leaders, employees, and their families.

Since its founding Nov. 1, 1985, with the consolidation of the Alabama Chamber of Commerce and Associated Industries of Alabama, the BCA has grown into an organization led by volunteers at the grassroots level who determine pro-business agendas in the state and national capitals that address the concerns of business.

“As we enter our 31st year in existence, we remain mindful and dedicated to the original commitment of our founders to our members,” BCA President and CEO William J. Canary told Yellowhammer. “Our role is meeting the challenge of keeping Alabama’s business climate on a level and equitable playing field and improving upon it for the next generation.”

Marty Abroms, president and managing shareholder of Abroms & Associates, P.C., in Florence, is the BCA’s chairman for 2015.

“The BCA as it enters its fourth decade is in a position to continue its influence in the state of Alabama as it has done so in the past through its membership structure and the dedication of valuable members,” Abroms said. “The BCA pledges to continue to lead this state in a direction that creates a positive outcome for businesses that power the state’s economic engine.”

Robert “Bubba” Lee, who is also chairman of Vulcan Inc. in Foley, was the BCA’s chairman 10 years after its creation.

“The business community as I understand it wanted to be more effective in Montgomery and in the lobbying scene so the two groups decided to join forces,” Lee explained.“Today the BCA’s role as a defender and promoter of business concerns remains as strong as ever.”

The BCA is Alabama’s largest and most established business trade association working on behalf of nearly 750,000 Alabamians who work for its member companies and local chambers of commerce.

Partnerships with local chambers of commerce

In 2003 the BCA and the Chamber of Commerce Association of Alabama created The Partnership, which unites Alabama’s business community and more than 100 chambers of commerce. The unique partnership is the first of its kind in the United States and it represents the interests and concerns of more than 1 million working Alabamians.

Jeremy Arthur, president and CEO, Chamber of Commerce Association of Alabama says that, fundamentally, the local chambers are advocating for their specific locales or regions.  “Collectively,” he continued, “through the CCAA and The Partnership, local chambers can now band together to form one voice for business and expand that voice beyond their local community to affect an even greater good.”

Educational Initiatives

In 2013 the BCA created the Business Education Alliance of Alabama to advocate for the best education opportunities and skills training available for Alabama’s public school students.

The BEA is headed by former state Superintendent of Education Joe Morton, Ph.D., who is chairman and CEO, and Finance Chairman Jay Love, a former House member.

“The BEA partnership is one of the most exciting developments in my 40-plus years in education in Alabama,” Morton said. “The BEA was created by the business and education communities to ensure that our children will be prepared to fill the long lasting, well-paying 21st century jobs that Alabama pursues on a daily basis.”

“As a small business owner and former legislator, I know how important the roles of the Legislature and business are to bring our business and education groups together,” Love said.
The BCA as sole representative in Alabama of the National Association of Manufacturers and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce expands its reach into the corridors of Washington D.C., legislative circles.

Political action

In 2007 with then-BCA Chairman Carol Gordy at the helm, the BCA embarked on a mission to fully fund its political arm, ProgressPAC, in order to promote a pro-growth business environment in Alabama by supporting pro-business legislative candidates.
The effort met success in 2010 with the election of candidates supported by the BCA in the House and Senate and the election of greater numbers of such candidates in the 2014 election cycle.

Pro-business victories in recent legislative sessions and elections have demonstrated the power of the united business community, backed up by a large group of dedicated members.

“We believe that support and involvement by business and industry leaders through the BCA can help protect our hard-won victories and solidify the future for Alabama business,” Canary concluded.