By Tammy Leytham
The United Way of Southwest Alabama (UWSWA) honored local businesses, nonprofits and volunteers as it kicked off its 2021 campaign and named its 2021 Volunteer and Campaign Award recipients.
Each year, UWSWA recognizes and celebrates the people, organizations and businesses that work hard to change and save lives in Southwest Alabama through dedicated service to the community. During the 2020 Annual Community Campaign, UWSWA raised $3,268,260 from businesses and individuals in Choctaw, Clarke, Mobile and Washington counties.
Mobile County award winners include:
Outstanding Achievement Awards
Outstanding Community Partner: Feeding the Gulf Coast
Volunteer of the Year: Sharon W. Murrill, Alabama Power Company
Inaugural Martin Family VITA Award: Donna Martin, VITA Volunteer
Emerging Leader Award: Allie Leavitt
Volunteer Connect (UWSWA Partner Agency): Caitlyn Latiolais, University of South Alabama student
Volunteer Connect (Non-Partner Agency): Devin Bromley, University of South Alabama student
Outstanding Campaign Coordinator: Karen C. Wilson, Springhill Medical Center
Outstanding Corporate Partner (Under 50 Employees): McKinney Petroleum Equipment Inc.
Outstanding Corporate Partner (Over 50 Employees): Regions Financial Corporation
Outstanding Campaign: Hancock Whitney Bank
Philanthropist of the Year: Jim Fuchs, Budweiser-Busch Distributing
Spirit of the Gulf Coast: Blue Cross Blue Shield of Alabama
Mozingo Community Service Award: Cindy Raby, Heat & Frost Insulators Local 55
Red Leachman Award: Alabama State Building & Construction Trades Council
Mobile Heart of Gold Award Winners
Jo Nan Livingston
Dean Naritoku, M.D.
Charles and Shirley Walker
Challenge Engineering Welcomes New Leadership
A firm in Mobile with roots as a family business dating to1953 has restructured, positioning itself toward growth. Challenge Engineering & Testing named Toby Watson as president and majority owner of the firm, which is one of the Southeast’s leaders in geotechnical soil exploration and nondestructive testing (NDT).
Founder and President Vester J. Thompson III will transition to a consulting role with the company’s global portfolio of projects.
With a partnership of local investors, the firm aims to grow its professional capabilities of field testing and sampling and NDT examinations.
The multi-capability specialized firm has experience in energy generation, shipbuilding, aerospace, marine, refining and infrastructure. Challenge has worked worldwide with governmental and private concerns including commercial port and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers projects in Haiti, Puerto Rico, Alaska, Miami, Taiwan, Guam, Gibraltar, Spain, Grand Bahama and more.
BUSINESS NEWS, MOVES & TRANSACTIONS
- A prime endcap space at 720 Schillinger Road, in front of the Super Target and across from the Super Walmart, has been leased to a tenant who will offer a variety of ice cream goodies. John M. Delchamps of Merrill P. Thomas Co. Inc. represented the landlords in the lease of this landmark property along Mobile’s bustling Schillinger Road retail corridor.
- Tyler Arrington Insurance & Financial Services leased 2,700 square feet of office space at 4325 Midmost Drive in Mobile. Jill Meeks, senior advisor with Stirling Properties, represented the landlord. Tiffany Barry Rose with RE/MAX represented the tenant.
- Solaro Energy Inc. leased 25,200 square feet of office/warehouse space in the Robertsdale Industrial Park at 22955 McAuliffe Drive. Jeff Barnes, CCIM, senior investment advisor with Stirling Properties, represented the landlord in the transaction. Susan Bibby with Coastal Resort Realty represented the tenant.
- West Mobile Dental Care expanded its office space by 1,200 square feet and is currently open for business in Lloyd Place at 6207 Cottage Hill Road in Mobile. The dental care provider occupies a total of 3,420 square feet and now offers dental services for children. Jill Meeks, senior advisor with Stirling Properties, represented the landlord in the transaction. Crown Tenant Advisors – Alabama worked with the tenant.
- BankPlus, which has served customers for 100 years, leased 13,000 square feet of combined retail and executive office space in the Merchants Plaza Annex, 106 St. Francis Street, in downtown Mobile. This historic National Bank building has undergone a $30 million renovation including the addition of more than 75 new apartments, as well as new retail and office space. The BankPlus build-out will wrap up over the next few months with a targeted opening date of the first quarter of 2022, according to Allan R. Cameron Jr., SIOR, and Josh W. Hall of CRE Mobile, who handle the leasing and management of the Merchants building. Jeremy Milling of Milling Commercial Real Estate represented BankPlus.
- America’s Best leased 3,600 square feet of retail space at Santa Rosa Commons, 4739 U.S. Highway 90 in Pace, Fla. The tenant opened in its new space last month. Stirling Properties owns the Santa Rosa Commons shopping center. Darryl Bonner and Kyle Knight, advisors with Stirling Properties, represented the landlord in the transaction. Atlantic Retail represented the tenant.
- Abbey Huguley joined the Mobile Area Chamber of Commerce’s economic development team as talent development and attraction manager. She will oversee workforce development initiatives, including developing and supporting programming to attract, retain and develop talent to support area companies and industries; related marketing campaigns; and events. She will also manage the Mobile Revelers, a volunteer group recruited earlier this year to assist the chamber with those looking to locate in the city, and Mobile MeetUps, an event to connect college students, human resource professionals and Mobile Revelers.
- CVS opened drive-thru COVID-19 testing locations to serve high-risk, underserved communities. Testing sites in Mobile include the stores at 3100 Dauphin Island Pkwy., 4645 Airport Blvd. and 900 Government St. These sites are no-cost and use self-swab tests for meeting CDC criteria. Schedule an appointment in advance at CVS.com. Test results will be available in one to two days.
- A Loft Hotel by Marriott is planned for 23370 Perdido Beach Blvd., on the site of Romar Beach Baptist Church in Orange Beach. A rezoning request to Planned Unit Development for the property was recently approved by the Orange Beach City Council. The boutique-style hotel will have 76 guest rooms on four stories, plus a parking deck.
- A recent Lagniappe business article recognized Southern Gyp Boutique in Bay Minette, named Customer’s Choice Alabama Retailer of the Year. Two other local retailers were also honored as Retailers of the Year by the Alabama Retail Association: Eastern Shore Ace Hardware in Spanish Fort and McAleer’s Office Furniture in Mobile. Throughout September, the Association will travel the state to present the awards to each of its 11 recipients.
- Real estate sales in Baldwin County are showing a slight slowdown, according to the August 2021 housing report. August 2021 saw 814 properties sold compared to 860 properties sold in August 2020. Additionally, this is the second month in a row to experience a decrease in number of sales from the previous month. July 2021 saw 844 properties sold, while June 2021 saw over 1,000. Those decreases mimic a national trend. However, markets continue to see an increase in average sales price over a year ago — by 30.9 percent for coastal homes with a current average sales price of $726,923 and 22.9 percent in Central Baldwin with a current average sales price of $268,311.
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