The success enjoyed by Huntsville has been created through visionaries and partnerships, as Mayor Tommy Battle reminded the audience in a full-to-the-brim banquet hall Thursday afternoon, on hand for his annual State of the City address.
“It’s a reminder of how fortunate we are to live in a city with great visionaries and a team of people that work together and make extraordinary things happen,” said Chris Russell, senior vice president at Cadence Bank. “It’s easy to take for granted, but this was a reminder of the diversity we have in our leadership and, like Tommy said, even though we have a lot of controversial things coming up, we’ve fought through other controversies and made great things possible.”
More than 1,200 civic, business, political and military leaders and other residents were among the audience, hosted by the Huntsville-Madison County Chamber of Commerce.
It’s a reminder of how fortunate we are to live in a city with great visionaries.”
“A lot of people will congratulate me on great events the Chamber hosts and its fantastic turnouts,” said Mike Ward, senior vice president for the Chamber. “But I’m so lucky to work for a community, in a community, like this. There’s no magical dust we’re sprinkling on the community to get them engaged. This is an engaged community that wants to hear what’s going on, and all you have to do is ring the bell and you get a turnout of 1,200 people. There’s no community in the state that gets that response.”
“I always enjoy coming to the Mayor’s State of the City address because once a year I get a full update on what’s happening and where the city is going and where the next quality of life opportunity is,” said Joe Vallely, vice president for external affairs at the U.S. Space & Rocket Center.
Foundation blocks are set
Battle wove the theme of “foundation blocks” throughout the speech, on how the foundations established by previous generations – some of them controversial, some of them quite difficult – have enabled Huntsville to become what it is now. He stressed the importance of the current foundation blocks of his administration and those created jointly with community partners that are essential for the future success.
“To me (what resonated) was the building blocks that he and the City and the team are making through all the partners to make this a better place than he found it,” said Joe Newberry, CEO of Redstone Federal Credit Union and the current board chair of the Chamber.
WATCH: State of the City 2017
Battle noted the vision of past community leaders, whether it be Dr. Wernher von Braun or elected officials or businessmen, to create initiatives that currently make Huntsville such a robust city, whether it be establishing UAH or building I-565 or relocating the airport. Any group of 1,200 in Huntsville will have hundreds among them who are not natives to the city, so the history lesson was enlightening.
“I really liked the way he told the story about how we got to where we are, the foundation of how we’re going and where we’re going,” said Bill Roark, CEO of Torch Technologies. “It’s an extremely strong message about Huntsville and how we’ve come through all the generations and moved forward in every generation, and we intend to keep moving forward. It was just an uplifting speech.”