HUNTSVILLE, Ala. - Watch a television news story about American soldiers in Afghanistan, or Army helicopters flying most anywhere, and you can almost bank on it... Redstone Arsenal and local defense businesses are part of keeping the people safe, and the equipment working. Supporting it all, the Chamber of Commerce of Huntsville-Madison County.
"We do take our role in the economic development of the Arsenal very seriously. It would not happen on its own," said Lucia Cape, the Chamber's Senior Vice President for Economic Development.
The reason the Chamber works so hard for the Arsenal and defense businesses is simple: It's good business. "Yeah, I think so, and that's a reflection of our economy. We're involved deeply in what happens at Redstone Arsenal because that makes economic sense for us. It's critical to our success," says Mike Ward, the Chamber's Senior Vice President for Government and Public Affairs.
With about half the local economy derived from defense and aerospace, it does seem to be common sense to work to make them more successful. It's a case of a thriving business community helping defend the nation. "Yeah, I do think the policies that we advocate do help promote a stronger nation, and I'm proud to do that," said Ward.
Ward is just one of the people at the Chamber whose daily work is dedicated to supporting defense and aerospace. The effort includes advocacy both in Montgomery and in Washington, D.C. Ward also says this. "You know, the key to attracting the military here has a lot to do with the support that we show to the military. But it also has to do with what the quality of the schools looks like. What's the quality of the roads? Do people have a very long commute?"
It's easy to see the things that make the area attractive to the military and defense industry are also the same amenities everyone wants in the community. Chamber workers understand that, but they also understand there's something else.
"It's part of what makes Huntsville different. It's part of what keeps the relationship strong. We know we're doing it, not just for economic growth, we're doing it for a bigger reason, a higher calling," said Lucia Cape.