MONTGOMERY, Ala. (May 20, 2021) — On Saturday, May 15, 2021, Alabama Communities of Excellence (ACE) designated Gardendale as an “Alabama Community of Excellence” at the Alabama League of Municipalities (ALM) Convention and Expo held in Huntsville. ACE also recertified Fairhope as an “Alabama Community of Excellence” and officially opened the application process for its 2021 class.
ACE President and Board of Directors Chair Carrie Banks recognized Gardendale Mayor Stanley Hogeland and city representatives as well as Fairhope Mayor Sherry Sullivan during ALM’s convention for their communities’ successful completion and recertification of the ACE program. Gardendale joined ACE’s 2019 class, completing the program in two years. Fairhope was a member of the 2013 class and graduated in 2015. Both cities will receive a plaque and ACE signage for use in their communities.
Banks also announced that the application process for the 2021 class is now open for qualifying communities and can be accessed on the ACE website. Applications are due by July 31 and can be submitted online or mailed.
On June 2 at 10:30 a.m., ACE will host an application training workshop at the Montgomery office of Goodwyn Mills Cawood to help guide city officials interested in the program. Applicants can attend the workshop in person or virtually, and it will be recorded to be added to ACE’s website for those who are unable to attend. Applicants can register for the workshop.
The ACE program offers a systematic three-phase approach with technical resources and the tools needed to help Alabama’s small towns foster growth and prosperity by focusing on their distinctive assets and resources. ACE’s comprehensive program starts with Phase I, known as the assessment phase. Phase II adds a leadership development and strategic planning component to the program. Phase III is the implementation and comprehensive planning segment that completes the program.
“Alabama’s cities and towns are the foundation of our state’s economy, and ACE works diligently with many community stakeholders, partners, and ambassadors to prepare smaller municipalities for long-term economic success,” said Banks.
Gardendale’s graduation brings the number of designated Alabama Communities of Excellence to 42.
ACE Towns include Alexander City, Arab, Atmore, Bay Minette, Boaz, Brewton, Center Point, Childersburg, Demopolis, Elba, Eufaula, Evergreen, Fairhope, Fayette, Foley, Geneva, Graysville, Guin, Gulf Shores, Guntersville, Haleyville, Hanceville, Hartselle, Headland, Heflin, Helena, Jackson, Jacksonville, Jasper, Leeds, Livingston, Millbrook, Monroeville, Montevallo, Oneonta, Rainsville, Saraland, Spanish Fort, Tallassee, Thomasville, and Valley. Communities currently working through the ACE program include Abbeville, Chelsea, Florala, and Red Bay.
ACE’s partner organizations are vital to the success of the program. The program’s 2021 partners include Alabama Department of Commerce, Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs, Alabama League of Municipalities, Alabama Mountain Lakes Tourist Association, Alabama Municipal Electric Authority, Alabama Power Company, Alabama Small Business Development Center Network, Auburn University – Government and Economic Development Institute, Byard Associates, LLC, David Mathews Center for Civic Life, Goodwyn Mills Cawood, Regions Bank, Spire, The University of Alabama Center for Economic Development, The University of West Alabama, and United States Department of Agriculture – Rural Development (USDA-RD). ACE also receives grant funding from the USDA-RD program and Alabama State Council on the Arts.