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Strength through peace: Business Council of Alabama announces reunification

The executive committee of the Business Council of Alabama (BCA) Wednesday voted to adopt new bylaws for the organization, to reabsorb the companies who recently exited and to form a new executive committee.

On a conference call, the now-outgoing executive committee first finalized a crucial new organizational structure for BCA through the bylaw changes, which had been presented to the group previously and needed to undergo a 20-day waiting period before being adopted.

Next, the BCA leadership voted to bring the companies that recently resigned from the organization back into the fold – including Alabama Power Company, Regions Financial Corporation, Blue Cross Blue Shield, PowerSouth Energy Cooperative, Protective Life Corporation, Maynard, Cooper & Gale, Thompson Tractor (Caterpillar), Progress Rail and Parker Towing.

The timing of this reunification is especially important, as the Alabama Self-Insured Worker’s Compensation Fund, which contributes a significant portion of BCA’s budget, had recently provided their official 60-day notice that they were withdrawing from the organization.

Today’s conference call also kick-started the official search for a new president and CEO to replace longtime BCA chief executive Billy Canary, who left in July. BCA staff member Mark Colson has been fulfilling the day-to-day duties of the position since that time.

Canary’s departure coincided with a transition plan previously adopted by the BCA’s full governing board and capped off more than a year of controversy surrounding his leadership of the state’s largest business organization.

In addition to the businesses who previously left the organization, two long-time senior officials also resigned from the organization earlier this summer. Next-in-line as chairman of the board and current chairman of ProgressPAC, Mike Kemp, president and CEO of Kemp Management Solutions, LLC in Birmingham withdrew in June. BCA General Counsel Fournier “Boots” Gale, Senior Vice President and General Counsel for Regions, also resigned before Canary’s exit.

Alabama Power Chairman, CEO and President Mark Crosswhite explained why the companies are rejoining BCA.

“The wholesale governance and leadership changes made today show what is possible when businesses come together with a common goal,” he said in a statement.

This sentiment was echoed by Bobby Vaughn, who represents the Worker’s Compensation Fund.

“At the end of the day, our members are our customers,” Vaughan said. “Our job is to serve the interests of our members, and the new structure will enable us to do that more effectively.”

Crosswhite also celebrated the occasion as a victory for the state, because efforts to create a more pro-jobs Alabama are most effective when all of its leaders are rowing in the same direction. However, there is more work to be done.

“While the hard work of moving this organization forward remains, I am pleased with this progress and look forward to working with businesses across our state for a stronger BCA and a better Alabama,” Crosswhite added.

A new BCA executive committee was also formed today and it will be comprised of 11 members in total – five from small businesses, five from larger companies (like the ones who left), and the final member will be a trustee of the worker’s compensation fund board. A new BCA Chairman was not elected today but will be selected from this newly-formed executive committee:

Rey Almodovar, CEO, Intuitive Research and Technology
Mark Crosswhite, CEO, Alabama Power Co.
Perry Hand, Chairman, Volkert Inc.
Denson Henry, Owner/Vice President, Henry Brick Co.
Carl Jamison, Shareholder, JamisonMoneyFarmer PC
Johnny Johns, Executive Chairman, Protective Life Corp.
John Mazyck, Principal, The Frazer Lanier Co.
Gary Smith, CEO, PowerSouth Energy Cooperative
John Turner, CEO, Regions Bank
Bobby Vaughan, Chairman of the Board, Alabama Self-Insured Worker’s Compensation Fund
Tim Vines, CEO, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Alabama

Former BCA chairman, and longtime leader on the executive committee, Carl Jamison applauded today’s vote and looked towards the future with tremendous optimism.

“This structure ensures that BCA’s governance structure will be focused on those core issues that are critical to businesses of every variety and size,” he emphasized. “Going forward, it will allow us to build on BCA’s finest traditions and take the organization to a whole new level.”

Heather Brothers New, chair of the Chamber of Commerce Association of Alabama, also hailed the reunification, saying BCA’s success ultimately extends far beyond its membership.

“We are fortunate in Alabama to have a business community that understands the importance of providing strong leadership on matters that affect our state’s economic success,” New said.

She concluded, “Individuals, families and communities can’t thrive if our state doesn’t provide an environment where businesses can thrive. Everyone in Alabama benefits from this effort to ensure a unified and effective BCA.”

Sean Ross is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn