Submitted by Tommy Fulton, Contributing Editor
Call to Order: The meeting was called to order by John Dukes.
John Moses gave the invocation, followed by Larry Sindel and Bill Oppenheimer, who led us in song and the Pledge.
Introduction of Guests & Visitors: Tommy Blankenship introduced our guests along with visiting Rotarians.
Announcements: Juwan Turner Howard gave a short inspirational talk regarding his involvement in the Google Scholarship Program and his efforts to rise from poverty. His desire is to help others climb the path to success. The District Annual Conference will be held on 6/7-6/10 at the Beau Rivage. There will be a club social at the Cheese Cottage on Tuesday, June 19th.
Program: Tom McGehee introduced our speaker, Elizabeth Stevens, Executive Director of the Downtown Mobile Alliance.
Ms. Stevens began by acknowledging that downtown areas in cities throughout the United States are reviving themselves. Mobile is a perfect example of this progress. There are more than 600 units under various stages of development in our downtown area. The vast majority of those are residential in nature. Just a few of those projects include the Tower on Ryan, the Merchants Bank building, the Meridian at the Port project and countless other efforts.
According to Ms. Stevens, much of this has been spurred on by federal and state tax credits. Interestingly, much of these tax credits are due to our Louisiana neighbors. Other changes in regulations will contribute to revitalization, including a bill that changes the liquor sales time to 10:00 am on Sunday mornings, which will improve traffic for Sunday brunches.
Ms. Stevens also stated that the combination of residential and business growth is necessary for the success of the downtown renewal effort. She cited examples which included Serda’s Brewery, Iron Hand Brewery, Olde Mobile Antiques, Cheese Cottage, Fowler Lighting and the Hargrove renovations of the former WALA building. This is working because of long-range planning and a desire to make downtown more pedestrian and bicycle friendly.
There will be a meeting on June 13th at the Steeple from 5-7 pm, which will present ideas and ask for input. The “Street Design Summit” is a great opportunity to see the exciting future for a more dynamic downtown. Ms. Stevens asked for support for the Downtown Mobile Alliance.
After a question and answer session, John Dukes thanked Ms. Stevens for her presentation and presented a certificate to her, noting that a donation in her honor had been made to the Rotary International Foundation.
The meeting was adjourned at 1:00 pm.