Three local companies and one individual were honored by the Mobile Area Chamber of Commerce Nov. 18 at a joint meeting of the organization’s governing board of directors, board of advisors and economic development investors.  

Those honored were:
Manufacturer of the Year — Evonik Corp.: Since 2005, Evonik has expanded 11 times, creating 114 high-paying jobs and investing approximately $378 million in its Mobile facility. The latest is a co-location investment with Bayer CropScience announced in July.

The specialty chemical company, headquartered in Germany, produces a number of products found in well-known brands in sectors such as health, nutrition, paint and coatings, livestock feed, detergents and herbicides.
More than 40 years ago the company, then known as Degussa, was the area’s first direct foreign investment and first German chemical manufacturer to locate in Alabama. The company has been instrumental in helping recruit additional foreign-based companies. Evonik also has a long-standing commitment to the community, local schools and various charities.

Currently more than 800 employees and another 300 contractor employees support the site.

Corporate Community Service Award Winner — Roberts Brothers: With 172 agents and 23 support staff, the Roberts Brothers team works with dozens of organizations by donating time and resources. The award recognizes companies for their commitment to the community and is presented by the Junior League of Mobile and the Mobile Area Chamber.

Among the many beneficiary organizations are Big Brothers Big Sisters of South Alabama, Child Advocacy Center, Habitat for Humanity of Southwest Alabama, McKemie Place, Mobile County Public School System, Ronald McDonald House Charities of Mobile and USA Children’s & Women’s Hospital.
Innovator of the Year — Horizon Shipbuilding: The idea for the software Gordhead came when Travis Short, president of Horizon Shipbuilding, thought about how the project details he studied could be just as useful to managers and production team members. With the software loaded on wireless tablets, managers can see the daily impact to the company’s bottom line, resulting in shortened project timelines and a more efficient work schedule that saves labor costs.

Ambassador of the Year — Saty Putcha: During his six years of service, Putcha has earned Ambassador of the Month three times and was previously awarded Ambassador of the Year in 2011. His work, as well as those of his fellow ambassadors, helps the Chamber expand and maintain its membership base.

The chamber also recognized McAleer’s Office Furniture as its Small Business of the Year, and honored Baheth Research and Development Laboratories and New Life Housing as Eagle Award winners. These awards were given in conjunction with Small Business Week in May and during the Minority Business Conference in October, respectively.

UWSWA partnership lowers prescription costs
United Way of Southwest Alabama recently announced estimated year-to-date savings in excess of $2 million on local residents’ prescription medication costs through a partnership with FamilyWize. The savings were on an estimated 126,430 claims filed this year.

FamilyWize is a nonprofit organization that offers a prescription drug savings program used at more than 60,000 pharmacies nationwide, along with other services.

“People should never have to choose between putting food on the table or taking their prescription medication,” UWSWA president Clifford Grimes said. “That’s why we formed a partnership with FamilyWize. It’s an extremely valuable resource that everyone, regardless of their financial situation, should use.”

The program is used by more than than 8.4 million individuals nationwide, Last year more than $873 million in savings was realized on prescription medications, according to a news release.

“We’re excited to see the people of southwest Alabama realize the benefits of our savings card,” Susan Gilmore, executive director of community engagement at FamilyWize, said. “We hope they continue to use the card and share it with others, as it can provide a significant savings.”

FamilyWize is a community service partnership focused on improving the health and well-being of individuals, families, and communities. Based on Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, it partners with more than 100,000 community organizations, government agencies, pharmacies, health systems and businesses nationwide. More information can be found on the company’s website.

UWSWA serves Choctaw, Clarke, Mobile and Washington counties. Created in 1926 as a community chest, the nonprofit has raised and invested more than $245 million locally for a variety of community programs.

Newk’s opening three new area restaurants
Newk’s eatery plans to open three new restaurants in Mobile in the coming months, according to a news release. Joining the existing location at the intersection of Azalea Road and Airport Boulevard, the fast-casual brand recently opened a new locale in the McGowin Park Shopping Center, followed closely by the anticipated opening this year of a third eatery at Westgate Pavilion on Airport Boulevard near the Schillinger Road intersection.

In addition to the three metro Mobile locations, Newk’s will also soon expand into Baldwin County for the first time, with another eatery slated to open at the Eastern Shore Centre in Spanish Fort.

“Having been a part of the Mobile community since 2007 with our restaurant on Azalea Road, we’ve experienced first-hand local diners’ appetites for the kind of fresh, vibrant flavors that have become Newk’s calling card and that fit so well with coastal living,” Chris Newcomb, Newk’s CEO and co-founder, said. “With a menu that is prepared fresh daily with premium, often imported ingredients, we’re excited now to be growing and sharing our signature ‘foodie’ approach to fast-casual dining with more diners on both sides of the Bay.”

Located at 1335 Satchel Paige Drive, Newk’s newest Mobile restaurant is a 4,447-square-foot building seating 154 patrons for indoor dining and outdoor dining for 42. The upcoming third Mobile spot location at 7440 Airport Blvd. will seat 190 patrons and is about 4,600 square feet. Adding in the planned Eastern Shore locale as well, all three opening restaurants will collectively hire upwards of 150 new employees.

Founded in 2004, Newk’s Eatery, based in Jackson, Mississippi, currently operates and franchises approximately 90 units in 13 states and plans to expand to more than 200 units by the end of 2018.