On a recent morning in her office in North Huntsville, Judy Hardin reflected on the impact her organization has on the community.
The North Huntsville Business Association (NHBA) Executive Director said it’s not the title she holds, the accolades or even the number of members who join that makes what she does worthwhile.
It’s about fostering economic development opportunities that promote cultural, civic and social awareness as well as business growth for the area.
“Our vision is to inspire continuous growth,” she said. “We don’t want a business to just set up shop here. We want the community and everyone in the city of Huntsville to know that this is a viable business and we’re doing something a little different to support them.”
How it started
NHBA originated in 2015 from conversations between then-City Council Member Richard Showers and now-Council President Jennie Robinson. Both Showers and Robinson worked together to launch similar organizations in their respective districts.
Now led by Executive Director Katie Bosarge, the South Huntsville Main Business Association is doing big things in District 3. Hardin said both groups support each other and coexist without being competitive.
“Our goal as an organization is to move forward, listen to what the community’s needs are and try to help augment that with plans with the City,” she said.
Our goal as an organization is to move forward, listen to what the community’s needs are and try to help augment that with plans with the City.”
Hardin works closely with Council Member Devyn Keith, a staunch supporter of NHBA’s mission. Keith said NHBA is actively contributing to the North Huntsville community through a number of key initiatives.
“When we come together with a unified front to tackle problems and reach goals, there’s nothing we can’t achieve,” he said. “The North Huntsville Business Association, along with its members and community partners, are doing great things for the district, and I look forward to seeing the changes that come from their efforts.”
What they’re doing
NHBA not only supports its member businesses, but also supplements the cost of rent to nearby restaurants Kim’s Diner and Betty Mae’s. With financial help from Google Fiber, Hardin said a yet-to-be-announced startup will soon operate out of the NHBA facility rent-free while receiving mentoring, networking and other small business resources.
The organization also works to improve blight throughout the district and meet the needs of its senior citizens and the disabled. Hardin said they’re continually working to attract and retain young people to live and work in North Huntsville.
Hardin, a recent retiree from Raytheon, said NHBA continually meets with the Alabama Department of Transportation (ALDOT), Huntsville Utilities, Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) and other groups to make sure they’re “connecting the dots.”
“We can talk about bringing big projects here, but we need to make sure we’ve got the right stakeholders in place so we understand where we’re trying to move with this,” she said.
NHBA opened at its current location, 2007 Memorial Parkway NW, last November. The renovated office features a wall of fame with stars honoring Google Fiber, Redstone Federal Credit Union, Dunkin’ Donuts, the City of Huntsville, former Council Member Showers and current Council Member Keith.
How to get involved
Interested in becoming a NHBA member? Memberships are available for small, medium and large businesses, as well as nonvoting associate and affiliate members.
NHBA said its diverse membership base is part of a collective influence shaping the NHBA and greater North Huntsville area. Members can serve on committees specific to their interests, provide feedback through membership surveys and participate in service projects with NHBA’s community partners.
Those who attend NHBA’s monthly meetings can also engage in lively discussions with speakers about public policies, transportation, education, culture and quality of life issues that impact North Huntsville.
“We’re not an organization to just say we’re an organization,” Hardin said. “We want to see change. We’re not going to complain – we’re going to get involved.”
To learn about the benefits of membership and to sign up online, click here.