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Shipt Adds Delivery Service for Office Depot

Shipt lights the Birmingham skyline

Birmingham-based Shipt has added same-day delivery service for office products giant Office Depot Inc. The new services reach more than 200 markets and more than 60 million households.

The brainchild of Birmingham serial entrepreneur Bill Smith, Shipt was born in 2014 as an app-based delivery service, concentrating on products from Best Buy and Home Depot. Within the first few years, however, the focus shifted to groceries and the business flourished.

Shipt’s success caught the eye of retail giant Target, which bought Shipt for $550 million at the end of 2017. Part of the deal was an agreement that the headquarters would stay in Birmingham, where the Shipt logo helps light up the skyline.

Shipt operates today as a wholly-owned subsidiary of Target.

Customers pay an annual fee of $99 for delivery services, with lower introductory rates available to new customers.

With the addition of Office Depot to the product mix, customers can order from a mix of groceries, alcohol, kitchen goods, pet supplies, health care products and now office products.

“Our vision at Shipt is to deliver the products consumers need so that they can spend their time doing what matters most,” said Shipt CEO Kelly Caruso.

Bourbon & Birds for Children’s Harbor

Plan a winter treat for yourself Feb. 8 at Pursell Farms, host of the annual Bourbon & Birds Quail Shoot.

The event benefits Children’s Harbor — a project of Children’s of Alabama hospital that funds free medical treatment and retreats for children struggling with serious illnesses.

Pursell Farms is a golf and hunting resort near Lake Martin, featuring spa facilities, sporting clays and an 18-hole golf course.

Children’s Harbor provides the children and their families with no-cost services at both the Family Center, located at the Benjamin Russell Hospital for Children in Birmingham, and at the Lake Martin retreat facility in Alexander City, Alabama.

The Bourbon & Birds event consists of a quail hunt, lunch and a bourbon tasting provided by John Emerald Distilling Co., makers of the first Alabama whiskey in over 100 years.

To complete plans to attend the event contact Erin Slaughter at 205-994-4667 or erinslaughter@childrensharbor.com.

Milo’s New Look Touts Real Ingredients, Women Ownership, Zero Waste

While Milo’s Tea traces its roots back to 1946, and tea itself has been around for almost five centuries, everything eventually needs a fresh approach.

Perhaps for that reason, Birmingham-based Milo’s Tea Co. recently went with updated packaging on their popular beverage products.

According to the company, the new packaging reinforces founder Milo Carlton’s philosophy: use high quality, natural ingredients; listen to customers; and never sacrifice taste. Additionally, Milo’s new packaging reminds consumers of its simple ingredient list and calls attention to what’s not in their famous beverages: no preservatives and no added colors.

The new label features iconography and messaging communicating to shoppers the qualities unique to Milo’s products. Some of the qualities the research found to be most important to consumers are: Milo’s beverages are brewed with real tea leaves, are made in the USA, and taste just like homemade.

Milo’s has added a new back label on its gallon and half gallon products that tell the Milo’s story and illustrate the brand’s difference. The enlarged back label has allowed Milo’s to include icons that set the brand apart: Certified Women-Owned Business, Zero-Waste certified, BPA Free containers and a 1 Percent Profit Pledge, indicating that Milo’s donates 1% of its annual profits.

“We are excited to debut Milo’s new packaging,” said Tricia Wallwork, Milo’s CEO and founder Milo Carlton’s granddaughter. “Our updated labels were designed with the consumer in mind, highlighting important product attributes and empowering consumers to make better, more informed choices.”

With $62M from Feds, Broadband Spreads Like Kudzu

USDA Deputy Under Secretary for Rural Development Donald “DJ” LaVoy delivers remarks at the ReConnect Pilot Program announcement in Hamilton, Alabama.

Be it cityscape or countryside, Alabama’s landscape often struggles with such challenges as a lack of dependable infrastructure and an entirely too narrow information superhighway.

So it was great news in early December when a series of announcements, taken together, indicated a total of $62 million in loans and grants to improve high-speed internet in 11 Alabama counties.

C Spire, joined by Alabama Power and a host of state and local officials, said it planned a major expansion of broadband services that will bring high-speed internet to large areas of metropolitan Birmingham and Shelby County. C Spire also plans to make the city of Jasper in northwest Alabama one of its first broadband markets in 2020.

“This is a great investment in the future of Birmingham and our metro area,” says Mayor Randall Woodfin. “In Birmingham, we are committed to creating an inclusive economy that provides the best opportunities in education, workforce development and entrepreneurship for everyone.”

On the more rural side of the internet divide, Tombigbee Communications on Dec. 5 announced it had snagged $29.4 million as a 50 percent loan-grant combination from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s ReConnect Pilot Program.

The company, a subsidiary of Tombigbee Electric Cooperative, will use the funds to boost and extend fiber optic internet to 1,100 square miles of unserved areas in Marion, Lamar, Fayette, Franklin, Winston and Walker counties in northwest Alabama.

The investment is anticipated to reach 2,152 households, 20 farms, 15 businesses, 10 critical community facilities, five educational facilities and one health care facility. The money covers construction, improvement or acquisition of facilities and equipment needed to provide broadband service in eligible rural areas.

“Beyond connecting us to our friends and family, high-speed broadband internet connectivity, or e-Connectivity, is a necessity to do business, access opportunities in education, and receive specialized health care in rural America today. It is a necessity, not an amenity,” says USDA Deputy Under Secretary for Rural Development Donald “DJ” LaVoy.

Residents of the grant-funded areas can expect construction to begin in spring 2020. Through the ReConnect Pilot Program, USDA has invested a total of $62.3 million in high-speed broadband infrastructure, including:

  • Millry Telephone Company Inc., a $28.1 million 50 percent loan-grant combination.
  • Farmers Telecommunications Cooperative Inc., a $1.9 million loan.
  • National Telephone of Alabama Inc., a $2.6 million 50 percent loan-grant combination.

Bachelorette Star Tees Up Interactive Lessons for Fans

Garrett Powell

Fans of ABC’s Season 15 of “The Bachelorette” got to know Alabama native Garrett Powell over seven weeks as he vied for the affections of fellow Alabamian Hannah Brown.

Powell’s good manners and sense of Southern decorum made him a fan favorite as he went through a host of global adventures and challenges on the show. Powell, 27, a golf teaching professional at Birmingham’s Shoal Creek Country Club, now hopes to use that exposure to bring golf to a new audience.

Fans of Powell from the show and those simply interested in taking golf lessons have the chance to communicate one-on-one with him through the V1 Golf mobile app, a golf lesson platform powered by V1 Sports.

With the app, fans can swap videos with Powell and get a custom voiced-over lesson with his tips designed to improve the user’s golf swing.

Powell says his TV trials, which included roller derby action, naked bungee jumping and having his chest shaved, gave him the confidence to start Greater Performance Golf, his teaching business. “Eventually, I got comfortable being uncomfortable, and I think that has helped my approach to playing competitive golf,” he says. “Helping people experience the same joys golf has brought into my life has become my main purpose.”

Online lessons with Powell are available by signing up at https://v1sports.com/online-golf-instruction/garrett-powell/ and downloading the V1 Golf App. In the Instructors menu on the V1 Golf App, users can select Garrett Powell and Greater Performance Golf. Easy instructions on uploading swings for Powell’s review and teaching insights follow, and the lessons are typically delivered within 72 hours or less after swing videos are submitted.

Vulcan Materials Underwrites Family Forest Carbon Program

Trees thrive on carbon dioxide, and families independently own most trees in the U.S. Why not reward those families for reducing carbon in the atmosphere?

That’s the thinking behind the Family Forest Carbon Program, and Alabama’s Vulcan Materials Co., the nation’s largest producer of construction aggregates, will provide funding for the FFCP’s pilot program, which begins in California and Pennsylvania.

Birmingham-based Vulcan Materials Company has joined the American Forest Foundation and the Nature Conservancy in supporting this new effort to reduce carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.

The FFCP incentivizes individual and family forest owners to adopt forest management practices that improve forest health.

Families own 290 million acres of America’s forests, more than state or federal governments and the forest industry, and many face cost as a barrier in managing their forestland. These forests represent a landmass the size of California and Texas combined.

Vulcan will provide funding for the FFCP to expedite family forest owner outreach and enable family forest owners to take action on their land in pilot program.

The FFCP represents a new approach to climate change mitigation that taps into the carbon storage potential of family-owned forestland while creating a new market and source of income for the families that dedicate time and effort to their forest management.

Research published by The Nature Conservancy and 21 other institutions in Science Advances demonstrates that nature-based solutions, like the FFCP, can help absorb one-fifth of the carbon pollution produced in the United States. This is equivalent to the emissions from every U.S. passenger vehicle.

Birmingham’s Southern Sky Aviation Expands

A Southern Sky plane

Between flying its own charter service and maintaining planes for commercial airlines, Birmingham’s Southern Sky Aviation has grown to 65 employees and earned a spot among the city’s fastest growing businesses.

Founded in 2017, the company offers charter flights, aircraft maintenance, avionics, management and brokerage.

Its fastest growing segment is maintenance, says president and CFO Donald Howell, adding that the company provides overnight maintenance to all commercial airlines flying into Birmingham.

That work “is very important in attracting and retaining commercial air carriers” at Birmingham-Shuttlesworth International Airport, Howell says.

Southern Sky CEO and co-founder Bo Andrews remembers the wealth of corporate travel in Birmingham back in the 1980s, when he was learning to fly, and his dismay as that dissipated during the financial crisis of the late 2000s. He founded the company, with Bill Gunnells who is now chairman of the board, to help renew the city’s air travel.

“We want to serve the Birmingham community, support the local economy and bring aviation back to Birmingham,” says Andrews, adding that he hopes to help create jobs in his hometown.

Adds Howell, “Birmingham was once a hub for aviation jobs. We are trying to build a Birmingham-based aviation company and bring those skilled jobs back to Birmingham.”

In addition to flights across the Southeast, many to Boston, Chicago and New York, the company has won Federal Aviation Administration approval to begin offering international charters flights to the Caribbean, Canada and Central and South America.

Southern Sky was featured as the cover story in the March 2019 issue of Business Alabama Magazine. Click here to read the story.

Birmingham Restaurant Picked by Thrillist

Photo by Caleb Chancey

Birmingham’s Automatic Seafood & Oysters has made Thrillist’s Best New Restaurants in America listing. The list of 12 distinctive restaurants was curated from a group of six experts with varied age and experience from across the country.

Chef Adam Evans opened his Automatic Seafood & Oysters in April. Located in the former Automatic Sprinkler Corp. manufacturing facility in Lakeview, Evans’ menu features simple, high-quality seafood dishes, primarily sourced from the Gulf, which he combines with bold flavors and classic technique.

Evans, a Muscle Shoals native, draws inspiration from all shorelines with a space that is comfortable, elegant and classic.

Erin Byers Murray, a Nashville-based food writer, author and editor-at-large at Nashville Lifestyles, is the one who chose the restaurant for Thrillist. She described Automatic Seafood & Oysters as “a sophisticated oyster bar and seafood joint that draws locally from the nearby Gulf Coast waterways in order to support those fishermen and fisheries, as well as local farms.”

The other 11 restaurants to make Thrillist’s Best New Restaurants in America listing were Alta Adams of Los Angeles, California; Benne on Eagle of Asheville, North Carolina; EEM of Portland, Oregon; Gertie of New York; Lazy Betty of Atlanta, Georgia; La Strega of Las Vegas, Nevada; Maison of Charleston, South Carolina; Tailor of Nashville, Tennessee; Um. Ma of San Francisco, California; Thamee of Washington, D.C. and Wherewithall of Chicago, Illinois.

Steam Plant Makeovers Advance Parkside District Momentum

Orchestra Partners and landscape architect Tom Leader hope to transform the Parkside District, in Birmingham, with a mixed-use redevelopment plan for Powell Avenue Steam Plant and several historic warehouse buildings west of Railroad Park.

“Connectivity and walkability are core principles of our mission to build a better Birmingham,” said Hunter Renfroe, founder and principal of Orchestra Partners.

The Parkside District will utilize the Red Rock Trail System, currently a system of 120 miles of trails laid out by the Freshwater Land Trust, with another 600 or so miles planned through the Jones Valley, to connect the many neighborhoods that form Birmingham. The Parkside District is the first step in what developers hope will be the rebirth of downtown Birmingham. It is within easy walking distance of the historic Central Business District, the Loft District, UAB and Five Points South.

Groups partnered on the Parkside District project are the City of Birmingham, Alabama Power, Freshwater Land Trust, REV Birmingham and Urban Impact.

Orchestra Partners’ Renfroe noted the key role played by Tom Leader, founder and principal of California-based TLS Landscape Architecture — the lead planner and designer behind the development of Railroad Park from 2005-2010.

“Partnering with Tom Leader will help us rebuild connections between Birmingham’s central business district and its surrounding neighborhoods by leveraging Railroad Park and the Red Rock Trail System as pathways of connection,” said Renfroe.

Leader’s comprehensive plan for Parkside features pedestrian pathways enhanced with retail and entertainment amenities with public spaces anchoring both ends of Parkside District — the blocks surrounding Powell Avenue Steam Plant to the east and the Birmingham Wholesale Warehouse Loop District to the west — to create an entertainment experience.

Renfroe added that the Powell Avenue Steam Plant project and adjacent redevelopments will allow Orchestra Partners to preserve a group of mid-century warehouse buildings on the west end of Railroad Park. Orchestra Partners has acquired Duffy’s Garage, 112 14th Street South, 1227 1st Avenue South, 113 13th Street South and 230 2nd Avenue South to include in the Parkside master plan.

“Revitalizing these buildings through adaptive reuse will help us preserve a major piece of Birmingham’s history while transforming this district into a critical western anchor point for Parkside,” Renfroe said.

On the east side of the redevelopment is Alabama Power’s Powell Avenue Steam Plant, built in 1895 by Consolidated Electric Light & Power Co. It was acquired by Alabama Power in 1952. The plant provided steam and electricity for downtown Birmingham and its streetcar system for 120 years.

“For more than a century, Powell Steam Plant played a pivotal role in shaping Birmingham’s growth,” said Tony Smoke, vice president of Birmingham Division for Alabama Power. “Now this historic structure will become a symbol of modern urbanization and economic development, connecting our communities to celebrate the future of Birmingham.”

Birmingham Internal Medicine Docs Join Florida Group


Birmingham Internal Medicine Associates has joined Florida-based Complete Health and its growing group of primary care practices.

Founder Dr. John Farley, M.D. and his partners, Drs. Tammy Leong, M.D., Neil Meadows, M.D. and Jason Smith, M.D., will continue leading the practice with the existing team and staff at 7191 Cahaba Valley Road, Suite 300. Farley has been named president of the Alabama Markets for Complete Health.

Joining Complete Health further strengthens BIMA’s position and growth objectives in the market, said BIMA doctors. The group earned a Most Innovative Practice Award from Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Alabama and has been named a Best of Shelby County practice every year since 2016.

BIMA plans to expand services to include a dedicated pharmaceutical research program and on-site lab.

“The BIMA team is an integral part of the Birmingham medical community,” said Jeff Preuss, CEO of Complete Health. “We are happy to welcome them to the Complete Health family of practices and look forward to helping the practice expand its services.”

For more information about BIMA visit http://bimapc.com/.

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