Learn More About the Gateway Initiative
The Gateway Initiative
The Gateway Initiative is a rapidly evolving workforce development and pro-business advocacy leader in Baldwin County, and is cutting edge, while still holding true to the core value of “business-driven programming”. This initiative is recognized and highly respected within the State of Alabama, having a foundation based on collaboration within the business community.
The five-year initiative kicked-off in January 2018 as the "Gateway Initiative, One Voice, OneVision, Moving South Baldwin Forward." Three programs of work were initiated, each with a specific mission, detailed objectives, and projected outcomes, all guided by some of the top business minds of the region. In July of 2019, leadership from the South Baldwin Chamber of Commerce and the Coastal Alabama Business Chamber came together to expand the programming model. Gateway is funded through private businesses and public entity investment. Collaboration between businesses, educational organizations and local municipalities within the Tri-City area is at an all-time high, and largely due to the influence of the Gateway Initiative.
Workforce development, community betterment, entrepreneurship, advocacy, and business innovation are the foundational components of our program. Guided by investors and key stakeholders, what the community needs NOW is provided by the Gateway team, and evolves as the economy demands.
South Baldwin County has a proud history and has long been known as the “Gateway to the Gulf.” From what was once a stretch of two-lane road leading to a sleepy fishing village, our Tri-City area has grown to become the destination for more than 8 million in 2021. Those visitors left behind an economic impact of $7.3 billion and create 63,628 jobs. Sports Tourism in Foley, Gulf Shores, and Orange Beach also bring thousands of visitors and millions in economic impact; both lead to job creation. Add the impact of OWA, the Wharf, and the Tanger Center to the picture and the “shoulder seasons” that have hindered our year-round growth for decades begins to level off.
Baldwin County’s population has grown 65% since 2,000 and is one of the fastest-growing regions in the US. This growth has brought great development in all business sectors including advanced manufacturing, health care, construction, and professional services. Many of these businesses thrive off of the unprecedented population growth and the steady upward trend in tourism. Prior to 2018, as Gateway was being developed, members of our business community were concerned about the future stability of our region. At the time, unemployment was at an all time low, at 3.9% in the County, and the top priority of the Gateway Initiative was to address the challenge of having an adequate supply of workforce to continue to serve the millions of visitors as well as the local community. As well, stakeholders were adamant to provide ongoing advocacy and support for small businesses - the bedrock of the community.
In July of 2019, leadership from the South Baldwin Chamber of Commerce and the Coastal Alabama Business Chamber came together to expand the programming model to over 1,700 businesses. Collaboration between businesses, educational organizations, and local municipalities within the Tri-City area is at an all-time high, mainly due to the influence of the Gateway Initiative. Workforce development, community betterment, entrepreneurship, pro-business advocacy, and assisting existing businesses are the foundational components of our program. Guided by investors and key stakeholders, the Gateway team provides what the community needs NOW and evolves as the economy demands. Here is a video testimonial from some of our top partners:
In 2020, Gateway means and does many things: a “Gateway to a Career”, the “Gateway to Local Legislators”, a “Gateway to Innovation”, the “Gateway to Service Excellence”, the “Gateway to Professional Development”, and so much more.
An Invitation to Join Us: Building Baldwin for the Future
Through the partnership between Baldwin County chambers of commerce, employers, educators, local and state government, and other key allies, the Gateway Initiative will continue executing business-driven programs of work to address the most critical needs in the region. Everyone knows with growth comes opportunity. We are now challenged with the price of that opportunity. This positive economic growth - in spite of the COVID-19 Pandemic - balanced with community well-being, requires a long-term strategy plus bold community leadership, and fierce commitment to excellence. We invite you to join us as we build for the future of existing and new businesses; to discover more opportunities and raise the quality of life for all citizens.
Meet Our Team
The Gateway Initiative is responsible to an oversight council made up of the CEOs of the South Baldwin and Coastal Alabama Business Chambers of Commerce and four business leaders from each chamber. The Gateway team is made up of Tyler Morgan, Director of Career & Business Development, and Ed Bushaw, Vice President of Workforce Development.
Gateway is guided by a group of leaders in the business community, the Gateway Oversight Council, composed of four Gateway Investors from each chamber, and both chamber Presidents/CEOs. The council convenes quarterly to review program accomplishments and realign programming where necessary, and represent a diverse set of industries in south Baldwin County.
Members rotate annually. 2022 Members include:
Mark Ingram, Baldwin EMC
Chad Watkins, WAS Design, Inc.
Sted McCollough, McCollough Architecture
Beth Gendler, Gulf Shores / Orange Beach Tourism
Jim Bibby, The Wharf
Penny Groux, Perdido Beach Resort
Matt Grant, Grant Wealth Management
Dec McClelland, Edward Jones Investments
Donna Watts, CEO South Baldwin Chamber
Greg Alexander, CEO Coastal Alabama Business Chamber
Our Strategic Plans