Chamber holds eighth annual Business Outlook Conference, provides update on Shelby Forward Campaign

Published 10:49 am Thursday, January 26, 2023

By LIZZIE BOWEN | Staff Writer

SHELBY COUNTY – The Shelby County Chamber held its eighth annual Business Outlook Conference at the Pelham Civic Complex on Wednesday, Jan. 25.

The conference was presented by the University of Montevallo and Stephens College of Business with special guest speaker Aimee Mellon, an associate professor of marketing in the Stephens College of Business at University of Montevallo, who currently serves as the interim dean.

A panel was held at 8:30 a.m. with five different representatives of businesses working within the Shelby County community who discussed updates of the current climate of business within the county.

Amy Sturdivant was in attendance on behalf of 58 INC. to discuss changes in technology and how keeping up to date with changes can aid businesses in advancing forward.

“I want to give a little overview on the trends we are hearing about and how they’re taking shape in Shelby County,” Sturdivant said. “The first one we can’t ignore is technology. It is playing a huge part in business globally whether you are providing a service or a product. You ask yourself the question of how does and how will automation and technology affect my business and my competition.”

Sturdivant discussed “talent challenges” and the importance of asking what it takes to hire and retain employees for a business. Sturdivant said there are lessons to be learned from the pandemic that are informing the supply chain.

“Go up to that high level and think about what you could change,” Sturdivant said. “That might be people, processes, product. We have seen companies over the last year that are reinvesting in their existing plan. Their same four walls are there, but they have shifted something out of the way, and they have a lot more automated machinery.”

Sturdivant said the 2022 Shelby County Comprehensive Plan draft is out, and there is a blueprint soon to be approved.

“(It) will give us clarity around where Shelby County is going and what kind of development, growth and programming we see for the future,” Sturdivant said. “That is exciting, because there is lots of great quality development that is coming with that.”

Sturdivant said the Chamber is, “working to develop great talent and working to leverage the regional work force groups.” These groups are working towards aiding businesses in finding and training talent and making an impact within the workforce.

“Know that you can look to the Chamber for those connections with those regional partners and making those things happen,” Sturdivant said. “That focus (is) on innovation and recreation and talent. Shelby County is known for (that), and we need to get even more proud about it and go after it. Our economic development team will continue to build on all of those assets and characteristics of the county that truly make it a unique place, not just within Alabama, but within the southeast and within the country. We want to compete on a global level, competing on a regional level and at a national level.”

Associate Broker and partner of Arc Realty, Mechelle Sippial, was in attendance to discuss the current climate of the housing market and real estate. Sippail spoke on the growth of the real estate agency in the past few years.

“During the pandemic we (real estate agents) were considered essential works,” Sippail said. “The last two-and-a-half years were a rollercoaster. We had 5,000-plus agents in 2019. Last year, we had over 6,000 agents because everybody was trying to become a real estate agent.”

The total homes sold in Shelby County in 2022 was 4,428, The average number of days houses spent on the market was 14. The average sold price was $402,388. The house sold at the highest price in Shelby County was for $2.6 million.

Christine Sizemore, certified coach and consultant, was present to discuss The Forward Shelby County Initiative. Sizemore will be partnering with the Chamber to further the initiative. The campaign is a three-year strategic plan that builds off the Chamber’s most recent plan Shelby One Next Level. The campaign was active from 2018-2022.

Shelby One Next Level included expanded programs in the areas of business development and support, community and workforce development, governmental relations and collaboration with 58 INC., Shelby County’s economic development corporation of the county.

“I am excited to partner with The Shelby County Chamber to provide leadership and management training on a quarterly basis for leaders and for emerging leaders,” Sizemore said.

In 2022 the Chamber:

-Received 135 new investors.

-Coordinated four governmental affairs programs with an average attendance of 105 people.

-Recognized 27 nominees in three tourism and recreation categories during the Shelby County All Star Awards program.

-Facilitated quarterly Shelby County Mayors’ Association meetings.

-Co-hosted the inaugural Discover Shelby Fest with the Shelby County and Shelby County Arts Council.

-Shared the “Communication Matters” program with 1,030 11th grade students in Shelby County.

More information about the Shelby County Chamber can be found at