The Gateway Initiative is a rapidly evolving workforce development 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, One Vision, 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. 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 6.5 million visitors each year. Those visitors leave behind an economic impact of $4.6 billion and create thousands of 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 to the picture and the “shoulder seasons” that have hindered our year-round growth for decades begins to level off.
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 those 6.5 million 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 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.
The Gateway team is comprised of staff members from the South Baldwin Chamber of Commerce as well as the Coastal Alabama Business Chamber. Get to know us here...
Gateway is guided by a group of leaders in the business community, the Gateway Oversight Council, composed of four Gateway Investors from each chamber, each Board of Director Chairperson, 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. 2021 Members include:
- Charlene Haber, Wolf Bay Lodge, SBCC Board Chairwoman
- Chad Leonard, Honours Golf, CABC Board Chairman
- Herb Malone, Gulf Shores / Orange Beach Tourism
- Jim Bibby, The Wharf
- Penny Groux, Perdido Beach Resort
- Matt Grant, Grant Wealth Management
- Michelle Hodges, SH Enterprises, Meyer Vacation Rental
- Dec McClelland, Edward Jones Investments
Our Strategic Plans
- 2018 Case Statement
- 2019-2020 Accountability Plan
- 2020-2021 Accountability Plan
- 2021 Accountability Plan
Reports & Materials