5 years ago

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

Barons Fireworks

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.


17 mins ago

Nick Saban: Alabama football players need to buy into culture of winning

Alabama coach Nick Saban said the offense performed well at Saturday’s scrimmage while the defense identified areas that need improving.

Saban said it’s time for all players to buy into the culture of success Alabama football has established.

“It’s very important that our players sort of buy into the culture of what has helped us be successful here for a long, long time,” Saban said. “And that’s the intangibles that we play with, the work ethic that we have, the discipline that we play with, the toughness, the effort … and people having a great sense of urgency about how important it is to do their job so that their unit, their team – our team – has a chance to be successful. That means we have to play to a standard – and it’s not really anybody else’s standard, it’s our standard.”

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Hear what else Saban had to say below. The Crimson Tide begins preparing today for its opening game against Missouri on Sept. 26.

Nick Saban on Alabama’s latest scrimmage, culture of winning from Alabama NewsCenter on Vimeo.

(Courtesy of Alabama NewsCenter)

48 mins ago

Gus Malzahn: Auburn football depth a positive of the COVID-19 positives

Auburn coach Gus Malzahn said it’s concerning that players on his football team continue to test positive for COVID-19 less than two weeks before the SEC season kicks off, but there is a silver lining.

“When you’ve got guys out, specifically starters out, it gives other guys opportunities,” he said. “So, on the positive end of it, our other guys have gotten more reps than they’ve ever got.”

Malzahn said practices will now focus on Kentucky. Auburn hosts the Wildcats to kick off the season at 11 a.m. Sept. 26 at Jordan-Hare Stadium.

RELATED: What impact will Chad Morris have on the Auburn offense in 2020?

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2 hours ago

Doug Jones, Tommy Tuberville react to passing of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg

United States Supreme Court Associate Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg passed away on Friday evening at age 87 following a battle with metastatic pancreas cancer.

A release from the Supreme Court outlined that the liberal icon died while surrounded by family at her home in Washington, D.C. She is survived by her two children, Jane Carol Ginsburg (George Spera) and James Steven Ginsburg (Patrice Michaels); four grandchildren, Paul Spera (Francesca Toich), Clara Spera (Rory Boyd), Miranda Ginsburg and Abigail Ginsburg; two step-grandchildren, Harjinder Bedi and Satinder Bedi; and one great-grandchild: Lucrezia Spera.

Ginsburg was appointed to the Supreme Court by President Bill Clinton in 1993. She was the second woman appointed to the Court and served more than 27 years.

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Born in Brooklyn, New York, she received her B.A. from Cornell University, attended Harvard Law School and received her LL.B. from Columbia Law School. She served as a law clerk to the Honorable Edmund L. Palmieri, Judge of the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York, from 1959–1961. From 1961–1963, she was a research associate and then associate director of the Columbia Law School Project on International Procedure. She was a Professor of Law at Rutgers University School of Law from 1963–1972, then Columbia Law School from 1972–1980 and a fellow at the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences in Stanford, California from 1977–1978. In 1971, she was instrumental in launching the Women’s Rights Project of the American Civil Liberties Union. Ginsburg served as the ACLU’s General Counsel from 1973–1980 and on the National Board of Directors from 1974–1980. She was appointed a Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit in 1980 by President Jimmy Carter

A private interment service will reportedly be held at Arlington National Cemetery.

The news of her passing rocked the nation on Friday night; reactions poured in from across the country, including from the two Alabamians running for the U.S. Senate in November’s general election.

U.S. Senator Doug Jones (D-AL) released a statement, which read as follows:

This news is a devastating loss for our country and for all those who have been inspired by the inimitable Justice Ginsburg during her long and historic career. Justice Ginsburg led a life guided by principle and filled with purpose. A true trailblazer in the legal field in her own right, she inspired generations of young women to reach for heights that previously felt impossible. Through her quiet dignity, her willingness to bridge political divides, and her steady pursuit of justice, she was a standard-bearer for positive leadership.

Her bold dissents in the Ledbetter v. Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. and Shelby County v. Holder cases are particularly meaningful to me, and to so many in Alabama and across the country. She stood for what was right and for the constitutional principles of equality and democracy that she held dear, even if it meant she was in the minority on the Court. As only the second woman to ever serve on the Court, she made full use of her opportunity to serve as a voice for women on the bench.

Beyond her legal acumen, Justice Ginsburg will also be remembered for her sharp wit, her tireless advocacy for voting rights, and her historic role in fighting for a more equal society for women across the country. She will be greatly missed.

Louise and I extend our sincerest condolences to Justice Ginsburg’s loved ones. We’re praying for them as they grieve this tremendous loss.

Republican U.S. senatorial nominee Tommy Tuberville reacted in social media posts.

“Justice Ginsburg should be honored for her service to our nation as a trailblazing attorney and as a jurist,” Tuberville said. “She fought hard for her beliefs and carried the respect of her fellow justices, liberal and conservative alike. I am certain that at this moment, Justice Antonin Scalia is greeting his old friend at the Pearly Gates.”

Sean Ross is the editor of Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn

2 hours ago

New deer zones, Hunting 101 and transfer of possession requirement

Deer hunters will find two new zones in the 2020-2021 Alabama Deer Zones map with season dates that better coincide with deer rutting activity in those areas.

Chuck Sykes, Alabama Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries (WFF) Director, said studies have confirmed that deer in Zone D in northwest Alabama and Zone E in southeast Alabama rut significantly earlier than deer in most of the state.

“We have been conducting annual herd health checks for the past 15 years. Part of the data gathered was the reproductive status of the animal. That data is what helped us move the season into February. We also determined we had deer that rutted early.” Sykes said. “We already knew this from historical stocking data, but it took us a little more time to determine some clear-cut boundaries that would take in those areas. It was pretty easy to set up Zone A and Zone B. We basically just divided the state. But D and E are isolated pockets with early rutting deer, so it took a little more time to get those boundaries defined. Once we got the boundaries defined, it was a logical step to make those new zones.”

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Sykes said in the majority of the state the deer rut considerably later, and it was reasonable to move the season dates to close on February 10. The seasons in Zone D and Zone E start early and end early.

“Because of the early rut in Zone E, some of those deer were already casting (shedding) their antlers,” he said. “So, people who were trying to fill their freezers later in the year ended up shooting 2- and 3-year-old bucks that had cast their antlers, thinking they were just shooting a big, old doe. The season comes in early to cover the rut, but it also goes out early to try to protect those bucks that had already shed.”

Newcomers to hunting or those with little experience can take advantage of the WFF’s Adult Mentored Hunts (AMH), which Sykes said has been tweaked for the 2020-2021 season. Last year, a requirement to take a one-day workshop to be eligible for an AMH event was implemented. This year, potential participants can take a Hunting 101 or Introduction to Deer or Turkey to meet the requirement.

“What we found was we had too many people backing out at the last minute,” he said. “Now, with the introductory courses or Hunting 101, people have to have a little skin in the game. Once you complete the one-day workshop, you will be eligible for one of the three-day, full-blown Adult Mentored Hunts. Last year, our participation rates went through the roof on our three-day hunts. The people who were eligible had already been to the one-day workshop, and they had figured out if they wanted to participate. Our staff puts in a lot of work and effort to make these hunts happen, and to have somebody cancel at the last minute was taxing on us. Plus, I’m sure there would have been a lot of people willing to take that slot on one of the best hunting areas in the state.”

WFF’s Justin Grider, who has been in charge of the AMH events since their inception four years ago, said the new format has achieved positive results in terms of hunter recruitment.

“We’re finding that people who are self-motivated are signing up for the Hunting 101 workshop,” Grider said. “If they are willing to give up a Saturday and learn about hunting and firearms safety at one of our public shooting ranges, we’re finding they are more likely to continue hunting as a result. Whereas, our previous format was come one, come all. Whoever wanted to apply could, and the participants were randomly selected from that pool. But we ended up with attrition rates above 50 percent. We had people who accepted a spot and then backed out. That was very frustrating and a waste of state resources.”

Grider said the new workshops not only confirmed participants’ commitments, they also reached a broader audience.

“With the AMH events, we could only accommodate a few people at a time,” he said. “With the one-day workshops, we can accommodate as many people as want to come. Last year, we had about 40 people at the workshop outside of Birmingham.”

Grider said new this year is an option to attend a species-specific workshop that focuses on deer or turkey.

“When we polled our participants in hunter education, 90 percent said they wanted to hunt either deer or turkey,” he said. “We created those Learn-to-Hunt workshops to satisfy that demand. With that, we cast a really big net to reach a lot of folks.”

The Hunting 101 workshop covers the basics on hunting safety and is geared to small game, like rabbit hunting, squirrel hunting and dove hunting.

“If you come to one of these Learn-to-Hunt workshops, we will obviously focus on the safety components of firearms and treestand safety, and then we will really drill down on the hunting of a specific species. If it’s turkey, we will go into the different turkey calls, the gear we use, patterning shotguns, how to find birds, setting up for a hunt, everything you need to know to hunt turkeys.

“With Hunting 101, you’ll have a chance to shoot a .22 and a shotgun. You’ll learn about what is good squirrel habitat or where you can find some rabbits. Then later in the day, you will have the opportunity to do a little small-game hunting or become familiar with the habitat.”

Either workshop meets the requirement to apply for the three-day AMH events. Grider also said people can come to as many of the workshops as they want.

“These are great opportunities to meet additional staff members, additional mentors and new hunters,” Grider said. “That’s the other component of the one-day workshops – it’s a great opportunity to socialize with other hunters, mentors and staff. And it’s not based on previous hunting experience. If you’ve been an avid deer hunter for 20 years and are interested in turkey hunting, come to that turkey workshop. It’s a great networking tool.”

Anyone interested in one of the workshops or an AMH event can visit www.outdooralabama.com/hunting/adult-mentored-hunting-program and use the interactive map to find a Hunting 101 or Learn-to-Hunt event.

Although there has been little mention of chronic wasting disease (CWD) during the COVID-19 outbreak, Sykes said WFF still needs the assistance of hunters to properly monitor the state’s deer herd.

“We still need people to help us collect samples,” he said. “Just because COVID hit, CWD didn’t miraculously go away. We’re still collecting samples. We’re still doing all of our surveillance. And we need people to participate. We installed those self-check freezers around the state for people to drop off samples. The response from the public was less than desirable. Just because we’re not talking about it every day like we have been for the past couple of years, CWD didn’t go anywhere. There’s still the threat. The numbers in Mississippi and Tennessee are still growing. We have to be diligent in doing our part so if it does hit, we can react swiftly.”

Locations of the self-service freezers are available at https://www.outdooralabama.com/cwd-sampling.

Sykes also wants to remind deer and turkey hunters about the changes to the possession regulation for the upcoming seasons.

Hunters who harvest deer and turkeys must maintain proper paperwork when transferring possession of that animal to a processor, taxidermist or any other individual.

According to WFF’s Law Enforcement Section, the recording and reporting requirements remain the same in Game Check. The update concerns possession of the game by someone other than the hunter.

Whoever is in possession of all or part of a deer or turkey that is not their own must retain written documentation with the name of the hunter, the hunter’s Conservation ID number, the date of the harvest and Game Check confirmation number. The information can be documented on a piece of paper, or a transfer of possession certificate is available in the Alabama Hunting & Fishing Digest or online at outdooralabama.com.

The documentation must be kept as long as that person is in possession of that deer or turkey. The hunter who harvests the deer or turkey is required to enter that animal into the Game Check system and maintain in his or her possession a valid confirmation number for that animal.

Hunters still have 48 hours to report the harvest through Game Check to attain a confirmation number. However, the game cannot be transferred to another individual until a valid Game Check confirmation number has been acquired.

The easiest way to comply with the requirements is to download the Outdoor AL smartphone app. The other is to go to outdooralabama.com and click on “Game Check.” For those who don’t have internet access, WFF has self-service kiosks at all district offices. The 1-800 number is no longer in effect. Visit www.outdooralabama.com/transfer-possession for more information.

David Rainer is an award-winning writer who has covered Alabama’s great outdoors for 25 years. The former outdoors editor at the Mobile Press-Register, he writes for Outdoor Alabama, the website of the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources.

13 hours ago

Ivey tours battered Gulf Coast; Area officials say progress being made, ask for patience

MOBILE – Alabama Governor Kay Ivey toured via helicopter on Friday the parts of Alabama hit hardest by Hurricane Sally. She was accompanied at two different stops by several local officials who praised how the response had gone so far, but warned there was much work left to do.

The governor in public remarks called seeing the damage firsthand an “eye-opener,” saying the reality could not be properly conveyed by the news broadcasts she watched before traveling down on Friday.

“The damage is huge, our people are hurting,” she said of witnessing the destruction. “I’m sure it could be worse, but from what I’ve seen this morning in the flyover… it is really, really bad.”

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U.S. Representative Bradley Byrne (R-Fairhope), who represents the hardest hit parts of the state, was praised by Ivey and several other officials for his work on the hurricane response at the federal level.

Byrne explained that large supplies of water and other necessary relief supplies had been stored by the federal government at an old Air Force base in Selma last week, out of the reach of the storm.

He added that the supplies were now being brought to the area as he spoke around noon on Friday.

Baldwin County bore the brunt of the damage inflicted on the state by Sally. As of 5:30 p.m. on Friday, over 100,000 households remained without electricity. “For Baldwin County this storm is worse than Hurricane Ivan,” said Byrne.

The congressman said he has met with officials at the White House and FEMA, and he said every relevant federal resource would be forthcoming.

As reported by Yellowhammer News earlier in the day, thousands of people from across the United States are pitching in to help restore power in Baldwin County.

Yellowhammer News, in traveling through Baldwin to get to the governor’s event, noted continued long lines at gas stations with many citizens filling up red gas cans once they got to the pump.

 

One of Baldwin County’s commissioners, Billie Jo Underwood, joined the governor during a briefing at Gulf State Park in Gulf Shores.

“I want to stress that we need to continue to have patience,” Underwood told the public, urging those listening to follow signs put up by law enforcement and other first responders, who are working around the clock.

Underwood concluded by saying, “We are strong here in Baldwin County, we are resilient.”

The commissioner’s comments echoed Byrne, who said that Baldwin would have a full recovery, “but it won’t happen real quick.”

The governor said on Friday that her main mission for the day was to listen to local leaders to so she could best coordinate the state and federal response.

“We’ve already heard we need ice and water and food,” said Ivey.

Yellowhammer News spotted one church that was giving out free ice and had a long line with many interested.

(Henry Thornton/YHN)

One Baldwin County resident told Yellowhammer they had been forced to throw out all of their perishable food items, a situation the individual presumed was common in the area.

Across the bay in Mobile County the situation was far less dire, apart from the town of Dauphin Island which experienced a similar treatment to its counterparts on the Eastern Shore.

Around 37,000 households in Mobile County do not have electricity as of 5:30 p.m. on Friday.

“I’m proud to report the government is working here in Mobile County,” said Commissioner Jerry Carl on Friday, adding, “I’m proud to say politics have been pushed aside.”

Carl is the Republican nominee for Alabama’s Second Congressional District but did not mention his campaign for higher office on Friday.

He joined Ivey, U.S. Senator Doug Jones (D-AL), Mobile Mayor Sandy Stimpson and a cadre of other local officials at a briefing at Dauphin Island’s city hall.

Stimpson said he wanted to join his fellow local officials in “thanking Governor Ivey and Senator Jones for their work.”

“We know the things that need to be done… We will come up with solutions,” remarked Stimpson.

Carl told Yellowhammer News after the official briefing ended that “getting the trees out of the yard and the power on is 99% of getting back to normal after a storm.”

“We are all used to that… we are Alabama tough,” Carl said of his neighbors on the coast.

Henry Thornton is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can contact him by email: henry@yellowhammernews.com or on Twitter @HenryThornton95