Fitch Ratings, one of three nationally recognized statistical rating organizations designated by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) along with Moody’s and Standards & Poor’s, recently upgraded its rating to A- with a rating outlook of “stable” for the Alabama State Port Authority’s (ASPA) outstanding dock facilities revenue bonds.

The rating agency’s endorsement recognized the ASPA’s strong debt service coverage, as well as the diversification of revenue sources.

“We’re very pleased that Fitch has recognized the substantial improvements in the port’s financial position,” Jimmy Lyons, director and chief executive for the Port Authority said in a press release.  

Fitch’s rating reflects the Port Authority’s record volumes in steel, iron and forest products in fiscal year 2014 and its success in diversifying the Port Authority’s revenue stream that partly mitigates their dependence on coal shipments. Fitch further noted the ASPA’s “excellent intermodal connections and the port’s limited service area overlap with other major ports,” as well as its role in the state of Alabama’s industrial development policies. 

Another key contributing factor in the upgrade was the Port Authority’s modest $145 million capital plan, which is expected to be funded through ASPA revenues, public/private partnerships and grants.

“Our management team has been highly focused on securing new business streams and alternative forms of financing our capital programs short of entering the bond market,” Lyons said. “This strategy has met our objectives to modernize terminals, while exceeding our debt service obligations.”

Mobile company earns exclusive U.S. Chamber award
Mobile-based American WeatherStar (AWS) is one of only 100 companies nationwide receiving the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s Blue Ribbon Small Business award.

Nominated by the Mobile Area Chamber of Commerce, the company is the third local business to win the accolade since the program began 10 years ago. Previous Mobile winners are BES in 2007 and Weinacker’s Montessori School in 2013.

AWS, a supplier of fluid-applied commercial roofing systems for flat and metal roof restorations, was selected from a record number of applicants from communities across the country for demonstrating exceptional business practices in areas including: strategic planning, employee development, community involvement and customer service.

According to the press release, the company is unique in that it provides its customers with leads and technical assistance to assist them in closing deals plus comprehensive industry training at their facility in Mobile.

As a winner of the Blue Ribbon Small Business Awards program, AWS is also in the running for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce 2015 Community Excellence award. This award is decided through online public voting that ended March 4.

“We thought American WeatherStar was notable because of its unique business model for the roofing industry, and we were right. Not only are they ensuring their customers’ success, but their own,” Darrell Randle, vice president of small business development for the Mobile Chamber said.

Like many small businesses, AWS owner Brian O’Donnell began the company in his home in 2004 before renting office space in midtown Mobile two years later. In 2013, the company expanded to a 5,000-square-foot facility off Halls Mill Road. AWS has 12 local employees and six independent field representatives.

“We, at American WeatherStar, are extremely honored by the U.S. Chamber’s Blue Ribbon award,” O’Donnell said. “It is confirmation that what we are doing here is worth noticing, and for that I want to thank all of our dedicated employees for their hard work and professionalism. I am also grateful for the recognition and support of the Mobile Area Chamber.”

On March 18, the U.S. Chamber will announce seven regional finalists from among 100 Blue Ribbon Small Business Award winners. All will be honored at the annual America’s Small Business Summit held in Washington D.C. from June 8-10.

Tucker joins Comprehensive Pain & Rehabilitation
Comprehensive Pain & Rehabilitation recently announced the addition of Joshua E. Tucker, D.O. Tucker and will provide patient care services at both the Daphne and Pascagoula clinic locations for the pain management specialists. 

Tucker completed his undergraduate and graduate level studies at Southeast Missouri State University. He then attended the Michigan State University College of Osteopathic Medicine followed by specialized training in Preliminary Medicine and Neurology with the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics. From there, Dr. Tucker completed a residency in Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation with University of Michigan Health System. 

Over his years of experience in patient care, Tucker discovered the vital importance of the doctor/patient relationship and how it can dramatically influence outcomes.

“I saw how that was a way to positively influence people’s health and have learned to practice in a holistic manner, considering nutrition, exercise and medications as we work to enable people to live as functional as possible,” Tucker said. “All of this contributes to reduction of pain.”

Tucker currently resides in Fairhope with his wife and four children.

South Baldwin Chamber Foundation names new director
Gale Croft​ was recently named​ ​new executive director for the South Baldwin Chamber Foundation. Croft received her B.S. in Business Management and her Masters of Liberal Arts with a Certificate in Leadership and Ethics from Huntingdon College. She was assistant site coordinator for Huntingdon College’s evening Bachelor’s Degree Program in Baldwin County and site coordinator for the Daphne Campus from 2010 to 2014.

Most recently, after serving as a volunteer since 2009, Croft served on the Board of Directors for the Daphne Education SEEDS Foundation (Supporting Educational Enrichment in Daphne Schools) from 2012 to 2014 and worked as SEEDS executive director for the Daphne High School program in 2014 to 2015. Croft lives in Daphne with her husband, Patrick, and their four sons.