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Federal contractors recognize the value of a downtown office culture

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. -- Downtown Huntsville already has a vibrant and economically strong community. But as the tech industry grows, more millennials will join the workforce of federal contractors.

Federal contracting companies are recognizing that sometimes office location makes all the difference.  That's why some are moving away from office-centric work environments and into downtown.

And the city couldn't keep its technological edge without --literally-- hundreds of federal contracting companies, large and small.

You can find these companies on and off the Arsenal, in Research Park, and now, in downtown Huntsville.

"I would say 80% of our revenues come from DOD spending and we also support other federal agencies," said Jami Peyton, CEO of Canvas, a federal contracting company that recently moved downtown. "Downtown Huntsville has the opportunity to grow and thrive by recruiting companies from the defense sector to come and establish their offices here."

Federal contractors are trying to recruit the best and the brightest workforce and it's the demographic of that workforce that will continue to drive growth.

"Historically, downtowns have been banks and law firms and CPA firms. But to bring a technology company in that's employing millennials, that drives the activity a little differently," said David Mathis, COO/CFO of MartinFederal.

The city center still has even more room to grow and build for these companies, whether that's a traditional office tower or a quirky renovated building-- like the historic Huntsville Times building downtown, where Canvas has been for less than a year.

"Forty percent of our workforce is made up of millennials," Peyton said.  "They're interested in more of the work-life balance. You're surrounded by people that you feel like also have that high energy, an interest in innovation and technology."

Companies like Canvas and MartinFederal were looking to relocate to a place in line with their goals: a walkable urban area close to restaurants, lofts, parks, and entertainment.

"The more people that are living and working downtown, the more other businesses will come downtown and it builds on itself," Mathis said.

The industry is booming and as more federal contractors make the move downtown it will evolve into a booming yet quaint and exciting place to live.