Bridging the Gap: A Series of Intentional Conversations

Join the Chamber of Commerce, the Diverse Business Council and the City of Tuscaloosa for a discussion via Zoom/Facebook Live. This is a series of discussions on race relations. Join us Tuesday, September 22 at 10 a.m. via Zoom and Facebook live to discuss voting in Alabama as the presidential election approaches. Register for the next session here. 
Wednesday, June 10th
1:30 p.m.
Bridging the Gap Session 1: Community Policing

 Join the Chamber of Commerce, the Diverse Business Council and the City of Tuscaloosa for a discussion on community policing via Zoom/Facebook Live. This is session one in a series of discussions on race relations.

Mayor Walt Maddox, City of Tuscaloosa
Rep. Chris England, District 70
Jim Page, CEO and President of Chamber of Commerce of West Alabama
Ron Abernathy, Tuscaloosa County Sheriff's Department
Brent Blankley, Chief of Tuscaloosa Police Department
Bishop L. Spenser Smith, Impact Nation Fellowship Church
Michele Coley, Chamber of Commerce of West Alabama Vice Chair of Membership and Investor Relations, Allstate Coley Agency
Thomas Dedrick, Chamber of Commerce of West Alabama Board Member, Dedrick Wealth Management Group of Raymond James
Mildred Black Hooks, Diverse Business Council Chair, People Optimum Consulting
Councilwoman Raevan Howard, District 2, City of Tuscaloosa

This will be a Zoom webinar. Upon registration, you will receive an email with login and dial-in information.


Wednesday, June 17th
1:30 p.m.
Bridging the Gap Session 2: Economic Opportunities

Join the Diverse Business Council Wednesday, June 17 at 1:30 pm for a discussion on economic opportunity via Zoom/Facebook Live. This is session two in a series of discussions on race relations. The objectives of this forum are to provide assistance and information to attendees on resources and guidance with respect to economic development and opportunities.

Caramyl Drake, Tuscaloosa Builds
Pastor Tyshawn Gardner, Plum Grove, Stillman College
Donny Jones, The Chamber & West Alabama Works
Paul Rollins, Jr., Rollins Mortuary
Karen Thompson, Temporary Emergency Services
Dr. Cynthia Warrick, Stillman College

This will be a Zoom webinar. Upon registration, you will receive an email with login and dial-in information.


Diversity Summit Tackles the Future of Work

The Diverse Business Council of the Chamber of Commerce of West Alabama held the 6th Annual Diversity Summit October 21, presented by Cadence Bank.

Focusing on the “Future of Work,” this year’s Diversity Summit featured a virtual panel of experts on a range of relevant topics for business and community leaders.

Mildred Black Hooks, Founder of People Optimum Consulting and 2020 Chair of the Diverse Business Council, kicked off the summit with a session on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion. Hooks noted that by 2050, 50 percent of our country’s population will be African American and people of color, and the call for diversity, equity, and inclusion has never been louder as it relates to the workplace.

“Diversity is bringing together the best and brightest to add value to the work that is being done,” Hooks said. “Working on embracing, capitalizing on, and optimizing what makes us unique.”

Michele Coley, Agency Owner, the Allstate Coley Agency, and a member of the Chamber’s Board of Directors, discussed Strategy in the workplace.

“Culture is very important when you’re being strategic,” Coley said. “You have to be able to think and see beyond.”

Describing herself as a “classic micromanager,” Coley explained that the COVID-19 pandemic allowed her to see her staff working remotely and provided the ability to take the next step forward, and she now has employees working in other cities.

Coley said it’s important to think about your competition, technology, and shifts in culture. “If you stay ready, you don’t have to get ready,” she explained.

Tim Lewis, President & CEO, TALA Professional Services, discussed Innovation with summit attendees, and explained that thinking and acting differently is something we all must do every day.

“We may be successful in what we’re doing now, but we need to be thinking about what’s around the corner,” he said. “Old ways won’t open new doors.”

Lewis recommended looking at the services you’re currently offering and make adjustments, whether they are incremental or disruptive changes.

Tripp Powell, Owner, Powell Enterprises, and a Chamber Board member, discussed Collaboration, particularly in respect to team environments.

“Ask what you can learn from other team members,” he recommended. “How is their background different from yours.”

Powell said that for him, being too comfortable was a problem, and getting out of your comfort zone is the key to success.

The 2020 Diversity Summit was presented by Cadence Bank.

Gold Sponsors were Bryant Bank, Home Instead Senior Care, Stillman College, Tuscaloosa Association of Realtors, and Whitesky Communications, LLC.

Speaker Sponsor was Buffalo Rock Company/Pepsi-Cola.

Table Sponsors were Allstate Coley Agency, TTL, Inc., Tuscaloosa Orthopedic & Joint Institute, and The University of Alabama College of Community Health Sciences.

Vendors were BankFirst, Kristen Amerson Youth Foundation, The Legacy Connection, and Renasant Bank.


Chamber in Session: State of the Community features Mayors, Probate Judge


The Chamber of Commerce of West Alabama welcomed local officials for the 2020 Chamber in Session: State of the Community, presented by TTL, Inc. on October 15. Matt Feller, Vice Chair for Public Policy for the Chamber’s Board of Directors, moderated the event, which was presented via Remo virtual platform.

Mayor Donna Aaron of the City of Northport, Mayor Walt Maddox of the City of Tuscaloosa, and Probate Judge Rob Robertson of Tuscaloosa County tackled a variety of topics, including an attendee Q&A.

COVID-19 was at the forefront of the discussion.

“County government is in a unique situation,” said Robertson. “One of the things we have strived to do was to work together and continue to provide nonstop services throughout this entire ordeal. We’ve had to change how we’ve had to deliver the services, but we’ve kept functioning and I’m very appreciative of the team.”

Robertson said keeping people safe and working is essential.

Maddox said he was proud of the successes, especially keeping COVID-19 patient numbers as low as possible within the DCH System. “The unprecedented cooperation between the university, DCH, and our local governments has meant that we’ve saved a lot of jobs, and we’ve saved a lot of lives,” he said. We wanted to make sure that DCH had the capacity to not only treat coronavirus but also patients with other needs.”

Maddox also thanked Gov. Kay Ivey for her assistance in giving municipalities the ability to take the action they needed to protect their communities.

Aaron discussed spending plans for Northport for the one-cent sales tax that would invest the money into enjoyment/recreation, economic, responsible “buckets.” The plan invests the funding into parks, streetscaping, services, and other improvements for the community.

“These include educational opportunities for schools within the city of Northport,” she said. “It gives the schools programs they would not be able to otherwise afford through the county board.”

Maddox provided an Elevate Tuscaloosa update, telling attendees they would be able to track the Elevate timeline and expenses via the website. He also said the city has leveraged Elevate to date for $26 million to improve Tuscaloosa.

He also gave project updates on the Western Riverwalk, Northern Riverwalk, River District Park, and Airport Runway Improvements.

“In the end Elevate is going to take our community to the next level. We were blessed to have Elevate during this pandemic,” Maddox said. “With it, we were able to help hundreds of small businesses through Restart Tuscaloosa. We couldn’t have done that without the Chamber, and the Small Business Relief Fund, and I’m really proud of that. I’m proud of that partnership with the Chamber and the Community Foundation.”

All three officials said that the pandemic delivered an opportunity to take a close look at the budgeting process and make adjustments.

With respect to the future, opportunity, collaboration, and growth were the goals looking ahead.

“Combining all our opportunities and people working together between workforce, education and local government, you can really get something done,” Robertson said. “I’m positive on our economic development outlook and opportunities. I think we’re about to see some exciting things happening.”

Chamber in Session: State of the Community was presented by TTL, Inc.

Gold Sponsors were Tuscaloosa Tourism & Sports and WhiteSky Communications.

Silver Sponsors were BBVA, the Frazer Lanier Company, the Paragon HM Wealth Management Group at Morgan Stanley, the Tuscaloosa County Commission, and Ward Scott Architecture.

Bronze Sponsors were Community Service Programs of West Alabama, Fast Signs Tuscaloosa, Hudson-Poole Fine Jewelers, Simplified Medical Management, and Warrior Met Coal.

Table Sponsors were Alabama ONE, BankFirst, Buffalo Rock-Pepsi, Building & Earth Sciences, Inc., Chesapeake Consulting, Inc., City of Tuscaloosa, District Attorney's Office, JamisonMoneyFarmer, PC, Michael McGuire State Farm Insurance Co., Raymond James, Synovus, Tuscaloosa City Board of Education, Tuscaloosa Coca-Cola Bottling Company, Tuscaloosa County Board of Education, University of Alabama System, Way, Ray, Shelton & Company, P.C.

2020 Diversity Summit to Focus on 'Future of Work'


The Diverse Business Council will address the Future of Work during this year’s Diversity Summit, which will be held via virtual platform Wednesday, October 21, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., and presented by Cadence Bank.


This year’s summit will include workshops on these topics: Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, led by Mildred Hooks of People Optimum Consulting, LLC; Strategy, led by Michele Coley of the Allstate Coley Agency; Innovation, led by Tim Lewis of TALA Professional Services; and Collaboration, led by Tripp Powell of Powell Enterprises.


“As business and community leaders, we have an obligation to confront the issues that prevent our society from reaching its full potential,” says Jim Page, President and CEO of the Chamber. “Now, more than ever, is a good time to talk openly and candidly, as a business community, about these issues and how they affect our places of work.”


The Diversity Summit is open to the public, and attendees may register here or by emailing Ticket prices for the event are $30 each for members and $40 for nonmembers, and the event will be presented via the Remo virtual platform.


The 2020 Diversity Summit is presented by Cadence Bank. Gold Sponsors are Bryant Bank, Home Instead Senior Care, Stillman College, the Tuscaloosa Association of Realtors, and Whitesky Communications, LLC.


Chamber Announces Staff Promotion


The Chamber of Commerce of West Alabama announces the promotion of Kimberly Adams to Vice President for Membership and Investor Relations. Adams has served as Director of Membership and Investor Relations since 2013. In that role, she leads all membership recruitment activities for the Chamber and manages the organization’s resource development efforts, including the Next Level Initiative capital campaign and 4th Quarter Drive sponsorship campaign.

“Kimberly has done an exceptional job guiding the Chamber’s membership and investor relations efforts the past several years,” said Jim Page, Chamber President and CEO. “The significant growth we’ve experienced in both membership and member engagement reflects the leadership she has brought to her position. Kimberly has earned the respect of our volunteer leaders, her coworkers and Chamber members throughout the community. In this elevated role, she will also be more involved with strategic planning and organizational development as a member of the Chamber’s executive leadership team.”  

Prior to joining the Chamber, Adams served as Retail Advertising and Digital Sales Manager for The Tuscaloosa News. She is a graduate of The University of Alabama.



Chamber CEO Appointed to International Association Board

Jim Page appointed to board of directors for the

Association of Chamber of Commerce Executives


The Association of Chamber of Commerce Executives has appointed Jim Page, President and CEO of the Chamber of Commerce of West Alabama, to serve on the board of directors. ACCE is an Alexandria, Virginia-based association of more than 9,000 professionals who work for and with over 1,300 chambers of commerce throughout North America. Page was appointed by incoming ACCE Chairman Jay Byers, President and CEO of the Greater Des Moines Partnership.


“We are pleased to welcome Jim to the ACCE Board of Directors,” said Sheree Anne Kelly, President and CEO of ACCE. “He joins the organization’s volunteer leadership at a time when the role of chambers of commerce has never been more critical. In these unprecedented times, Jim’s expertise will help our volunteer leadership address today’s most pressing challenges, reimagine chambers and shape the future of our work.”


Page has served as President and CEO of the Chamber of Commerce of West Alabama since 2012 and has worked in the chamber industry since 2002. A former chairman of the Chamber of Commerce Association of Alabama, Page currently sits on the board of directors of the Business Council of Alabama, which serves as the state chamber of commerce.


Members of ACCE’s board of directors represent more than 50 organizations, including many of the world’s largest and most influential regional chambers of commerce.

Members Hit the Golf Course for AAS Tourney

The Harrison Construction Company team was the overall tourney winner at the 30th Annual Nucor Steel Tuscaloosa Adopt-A-School Golf Tournament. The team won $500 for each of their designated school, Rock Quarry Elementary.


Northport Elementary will receive $500 for having the most golfers (elementary), and Holt High will receive $500 for having the most golfers (secondary).  A random drawing was also held including all schools represented and Walker Elementary was selected to receive $500.


Additional winning teams / players were:


1st Place Gross Winners – Parker Towing Company Team


2nd Place Net Winners – Buffalo Rock/Pepsi-Cola Team


2nd Place Gross Winners – WYCOMP Technology Team


3rd Place Net Winners – Sage Juice Bar & Speakeasy Team


3rd Place Gross Winners – Bama Concrete Team


The Longest Drive winner won a recliner from Spiller Furniture & Mattress.


The Adopt-A-School program would like to thank all of the businesses and organizations who provided support for the Golf Tournament. Without their support, this event would not be possible.


Title Sponsor:  Nucor Steel Tuscaloosa, Inc.

Eagle Sponsors:  Alabama Credit Union, Alabama ONE, Bama Concrete Products Company, Inc., BFGoodrich Tire Manufacturing, Bryant Bank, Burnum-Hahn Exterminators, Inc., Closets Plus, Inc., Complete Pipeline Services & Supply, Cornerstone Ministries, LLC, The Lance Hocutt Financial Group, McAbee Construction, Inc., Perfect Shine, Inc., Phifer Incorporated, Rumsey Environmental, Sam’s Club #6435, Steven Fikes Allstate Agency Tuscaloosa Chapter of Credit Unions, Tuscaloosa Coca-Cola, West Alabama Bank, and WYCOMP Technology, Inc.


Favor Sponsor: Rumsey Environmental


Scorecard Sponsors:  Tuscaloosa Radio


Golf Cart Sponsors: Buffalo Rock Company/Pepsi-Cola


Beverage Cart Sponsor:  Allstate Coley Agency


Closest to Pin Sponsors:  The Lance Hocutt Financial Group and Walmart #0715, Skyland


Donors:  Adams Beverages, Buffalo Rock Company / Pepsi-Cola, Tuscaloosa Radio, Tuscaloosa Tourism & Sports, and WVUA23



Hole Sponsors:

ABC Fire & Equipment

Alabama Credit Union

Alabama ONE

Amason & Associates, Inc.

Bama Concrete Products Company, Inc.


BFGoodrich Tire Manufacturing

Bryant Bank

Burnum-Hahn Exterminators, Inc.

Closets Plus, Inc.

Complete Pipeline Services & Supply

Cornerstone Ministries, LLC

DCH Health System

The District Room

Elks Lodge 393

Ellis Architects, Inc.

FASTSIGNS of Tuscaloosa

Hampton Inns of Tuscaloosa

Harrison Construction Company, Inc.

Innisfree Irish Pub

Kristen Amerson Youth Foundation

The Lance Hocutt Financial Group

McAbee Construction, Inc.

McGiffert and Associates, LLC

Mercedes Benz U.S. International, Inc.

Nucor Steel Tuscaloosa, Inc.

Perfect Shine, Inc.

Phifer, Inc.

Reese Phifer, Jr. Memorial Foundation

Robertson Banking

Rumsey Environmental

Sam’s Club #6435

Shelton State Community College

Steven Fikes Allstate Agency


Temporary Emergency Services

TTL, Inc.

Tuscaloosa Association of Realtors

Tuscaloosa Chapter of Credit Unions

Tuscaloosa Coca-Cola

Walmart #0715, Skyland

West Alabama Bank

Whitesky Communications, LLC


WYCOMP Technology, Inc.


Attendees also won some fantastic raffle prizes at the event donated by Art Garage, Baumhower’s Victory Grille, BFGoodrich Tire Manufacturing, Buffalo Rock Company / Pepsi-Cola, Campus Collection, Chick-fil-A Northport, Chick Salad Chick, A Cutting Edge, Effie’s, Inc., Embassy Suites Downtown Tuscaloosa, Flavaz Seafood & Soul Food Restaurant, Gulf Supreme of Central Alabama, Left Hand Soap Company, The Logo Station, Nancy Taylor Skin, Northridge Fitness, Nothing Bundt Cakes, Nucor Steel Tuscaloosa, Inc., Pat’s Florist & Gourmet Baskets, Pants Store, Pause; Boutique, Peterbrooke Chocolatier, Planet Fitness Skyland, Reggae Flava, River, Roebuck Landing Grill & Grocery, RSB Percussion, Sage Juice Bar & Speakeasy, Sealy Furniture Company, Shelton State Community College, Side by Side, SouthMark Design, Speedy Oil Change, Stretch Zone Tuscaloosa, TownePlace Suites by Marriott Tuscaloosa University, Tuscaloosa Children’s Theatre, Tuscaloosa Coca-Cola Bottling Company, Whataburger, Your CBD Store.


Leadership Tuscaloosa Class of 2020-21 Named

Thirty-eight people have been selected for the 2020-21 class of Leadership Tuscaloosa, a nine-month leadership development program.  Sponsored by the Chamber of Commerce of West Alabama, the program is designed to make each selected participant more aware of and sensitive to the wide range of needs and opportunities in the community through shared experiences with a cross section of highly capable fellow citizens.

Allyson Cooper, with the College of Community Health Sciences, The University of Alabama, will serve as the Chair for this year’s class. She is a graduate of Leadership Tuscaloosa and an active member of the Leadership Tuscaloosa Alumni Association.

Class members for 2020-21: Stan Adams, Tuscaloosa Tourism & Sports; Justin Brady, Cadence Bank; Darius Bramlett, Greystone Rentals, LLC; Tara Bullock, Chamber of Commerce of West Alabama; Lisa Byrd, Bryce Hospital; Laura Cabaniss, Cabaniss Media; Gary Chilcutt, Parker Towing Company, Inc.; Grant Cockrell, Shelton State Community College; Charles Edwards, H.A. Edwards Inc.; Karl Elebash IV, TTL, Inc.; Leigh Ann Fair, Tuscaloosa County Commission; Derrick Gilmore, Shelton State Community College; Mildred Hooks, People Optimum Consulting Inc.; Jacquie Johnson, Alabama ONE; Megan Jolly, Jolly Heating and Air; Ronetta Leatherwood, Tuscaloosa’s One Place; Amanda Lowery, Mercedes-Benz U.S. International; Andrea Markham, Tuscaloosa City Schools; Shannon McCue, Arts & Humanities Council of Tuscaloosa; Matthew McGee, Tuscaloosa County High School; Misty Moon, American Red Cross; Liz Moore, The University of Alabama; Megan Richards, Adcox Associates, LLC; Jerrica Satcher, Insomnia Cookies; Corey Seale, Tuscaloosa County District Attorney’s Office; Allison Smith, Alabama Credit Union; Chantelle Smith, Carrie Fitts Real Estate, LLC; Eric Smith, Regions Bank; Marshetta Spencer, Stillman College; Kris Sullivan, Buffalo Rock/Pepsi; PJ Talley, The Builders Group; Toye Thompson, Whatley Health Services, Inc.; Mark Tobin, The Westervelt Company; Gabriela Varas, Five Horizons Health Services; Darryl White, Formel D; Luther Winn III, Mercedes-Benz U.S. International; Timothy Woodard, BBVA; RaSheda Workman, Stillman College.

Chamber Receives Reaccreditation

Senior Staff also reaccredited as chamber executives

The Chamber of Commerce of West Alabama has received the Accredited Alabama Chamber of Commerce distinction (AACC), along with eight other Alabama chambers of commerce.

The Accredited Alabama Chamber of Commerce program sets standards of excellence for chambers in the State of Alabama. It recognizes chambers that have achieved those standards while offering guidelines for those to improve their effectiveness. The program examines six core areas: Organization, Mission Focus, Professional Administration, Financial Management, Communications, and Advocacy.

Jeremy L. Arthur, President and CEO of the CCAA, said the nine local chambers of commerce are a true testament to the chamber industry. “The accreditation process is very rigorous and highlights that each chamber is truly the ‘best of the best’ across our state,” Arthur said. “Chambers that receive the Accredited Alabama Chamber of Commerce distinction have shown their commitment to the highest professional standards and it assures their business members they are investing in an organization working on their behalf for the greater good.”

“This distinction recognizes local chambers of commerce in Alabama that strengthen free enterprise by protecting their local business environment,” said Dean Mitchell, Executive Director of the Dothan Area Chamber of Commerce and the CCAA’s 2020 Chairman of the Board of Directors. “They most certainly represent the highest standards in our profession.”

In addition, West Alabama Chamber President and CEO Jim Page and Chief Operating Officer Donny Jones were among eight Alabama chamber professionals to again earn the Accredited Alabama Chamber Executive (AACE) distinction. The AACE designation recognizes the professional competence of chamber of commerce executives in the State of Alabama and is based on experience, service to CCAA, training, continuing education, and the professional achievements of CCAA members.

Small Business Relief Fund Has Assisted More Than 260 Businesses


Following the latest round of awards, the Small Business Relief Fund has now disbursed $1,167,471 to local small businesses impacted by COVID-19. The partnership between the Chamber and the Community Foundation of West Alabama has assisted 267 local small businesses throughout the nine-county region.

“No other sector has been more hard-hit by the COVID-19 crisis than our small businesses in Tuscaloosa,” Mayor Walt Maddox says. “It’s my hope that through the City’s $1 million investment into the Small Business Relief fund through Elevate Tuscaloosa, that the promise of tomorrow will be regained for these businesses.”

The funding, which provided immediate relief to businesses, kept some from closing their doors permanently.

“Thank you so much for help and support from the Chamber to small businesses, like myself,” says Myca Bell-Mack of Myca Mack Beauty. “It makes such a huge difference to us all. We will forever be indebted to you all for your generosity during such uncertain times.”

Barkley Garrett, Vice President for Economic Development for the Chamber, noted there is still approximately $84,000 remaining in the fund available to businesses based in the city of Tuscaloosa and urged anyone interested to apply before the July 31 deadline.

“We at the Chamber, along with our friends at the Community Foundation, are thrilled to have been able to assist so many small businesses during this difficult time,” Garrett says. “We would like to encourage anyone who has experienced a financial hardship during the pandemic to apply for the remaining City of Tuscaloosa funds over the next week and take advantage of this unique opportunity.”

"It has been a privilege for the CFWA to partner with the Chamber and the City of Tuscaloosa to help our small business community,” says Glenn Taylor, President and CEO of the Community Foundation of West Alabama. “We have a very generous, caring community and it is in times like these that we are reminded of such.  We are proud of our community and glad to be a partner in the recovery."

To be eligible for funds donated under the City of Tuscaloosa’s Elevate Tuscaloosa initiative, a business must be located within the city limits of Tuscaloosa, must have experienced a financial hardship as a result of COVID-19, must have 50 or fewer full time employees as of February 29, 2020, and must be in good standing with state and local government jurisdictions. The deadline to apply is July 31.

To donate to the Small Business Relief Fund or apply, visit

Ivey Reappoints Chamber's Donny Jones to Alabama Workforce Council

Contact:  Amy Materson, (205) 391-0563


TUSCALOOSA, AL | July 10, 2020Governor Kay Ivey has reappointed Donny Jones, Chief Operating Officer for the Chamber of Commerce of West Alabama and Executive Director of West Alabama Works, to the Alabama Workforce Council.

Formed in 2015 as an employer-led statewide effort to understand the structure, function, organization and perception of the Alabama workforce system, the Alabama Workforce Council facilitates collaboration between government and industry to help Alabama develop a sustainable, top-notch workforce that is competitive on a global scale. Since its inception, the Council has been committed to analyzing important issues related to workforce development and making sound recommendations that will help to create more and better opportunities for all Alabamians.

As director of West Alabama Works, Jones leads the team that supports the Region 3 Workforce Council. This regional workforce development system supports economic and workforce training activities throughout a nine-county area through both urban and rural outreach programs, and innovative initiatives.

“Donny has been a great asset to our West Alabama community in leading our workforce efforts that are a model for others around the country,” said Bobby Bragg, Chairman of the Chamber’s Board of Directors. “It’s great to see that Governor Ivey and the state workforce council recognize the West Alabama Works efforts and results, and continue to show confidence in Donny’s agile and effective leadership.”

Chamber President and CEO Jim Page said Jones is an excellent representative to the council. “I am extremely proud of Donny for serving on the Alabama Workforce Council,” Page said. “His passion, creativity and outstanding work ethic are major reasons why we’ve experienced so much workforce development success in Region 3. Donny is a true servant leader and will continue to be an invaluable asset to our state’s emerging efforts to put Alabamians to work.”   

 “I am honored to serve on the Alabama Workforce Council,” Jones said. “The state of Alabama must be prepared to face future workforce challenges by readying a new generation of skilled workers. The AWC is uniquely positioned to positively impact both workforce and economic development for the entire state of Alabama.”