The BCA’s Annual Conference Informed, Challenged, and Entertained

POINT CLEAR, Ala. – The Business Council of Alabama’s 2016 Governmental Affairs Conference held Aug. 5-7 included updates on important education efforts, legislative action, a national economic report, and informative and entertaining main speakers Louise Blais and Judy A. Smith.

Blais, the Consul General of Canada in Atlanta, spoke on the trade relationship between the United States and our northern neighbor.


Smith, a Washington, D.C., crisis manager who is the inspiration for the television series Scandal, entertained and informed GAC attendees with a lively speech, participated in an interview with BCA President and CEO William J. Canary, and a took questions from the audience.


The conference at the Marriott Grand Hotel and Spa was the latest annual conference hosted by the BCA for members, elected officials, and honored guests.

Aug. 5 was a business day for the BCA’s ProgressPAC board of directors, the BCA executive committee, and a board of directors meeting presided over by BCA Chairman Tommy Lee, President and CEO of Vulcan Inc. in Foley.

In addition to Lee, the board of directors’ program included BCA First Vice President and ProgressPAC Chairman Jeff Coleman, president and CEO of Coleman Worldwide Moving, BCA President and CEO William J. Canary, and BCA staffers.

Canary announced the release of the BCA’s annual book of activities titled Unfinished Business, a year-in-review that includes the 2016 legislative session and key positions taken by the BCA on behalf of the Alabama business community.

Consul General Blais spoke on the important trade relationship between the United States and Canada. “Canada buys more from the U.S. than China, the U.K., and Japan combined,” she said.

“Canada’s impact on Alabama is tremendous,” she said. “There is room to grow it.”

Smith, a former White House special assistant and deputy press secretary to President George H.W. Bush, and founder of a leading strategic and crisis communications firm, entertained and informed conference participants on Saturday about her handling of political, celebrity, and entertainment clients who face challenging issues.

Her advice as a crisis manager: “You always want to control the message if you can,” she said.

Joe Morton, Ph.D., chairman and president of the Business Education Alliance, presented the BEA’s third report, “Exceeding Expectations: The Keys to Alabama’s Student Success,” that makes use of new measures of student achievement adopted to judge progress toward Plan 2020’s goals.


Previous BEA reports were released at Governmental Affairs Conferences in 2014 and 2015.

Jim Page, president and CEO of the Chamber of Commerce of West Alabama and spokesman for the Alliance for Alabama’s Infrastructure, gave an informative talk about the Cost of Doing Nothing for Alabama’s Infrastructure Crisis.


Carter Wells, vice president of economic development with HudsonAlpha Institute for Biotechnology, introduced a video of the groundbreaking work being done at HudsonAlpha in Huntsville.


HudsonAlpha began with 16 faculty members and has grown to 700 men and women working in the life sciences. After just eight years, HudsonAlpha has a $1.7 billion economic impact.

The BCA recognized long-time BCA board member Don Morgan of Cullman and former state Rep. Mike Hill with BCA Distinguished Leader Awards. Morgan was a member of the BCA during its creation in 1985. Hill recently was appointed Banking Superintendent.

Former U.S. Rep. Jo Bonner was awarded the Inaugural Spirit of Leadership Award. Bonner is vice chancellor for economic development of The University of Alabama System.

Chamber of Commerce Association of Alabama Chair Morri Yancy announced a new class of awards for small businesses to begin this year.


The conference was closed with the traditional interfaith Sunday morning service by Pam Hanes, founder of Pam Hanes Ministries