Huntsville: A Boomtown
What is one word you would use to describe Huntsville, AL? For me it would be “Boomtown”. Wikipedia describes boomtown as follows: A boomtown is a community that undergoes sudden and rapid population and economic growth, or that is started from scratch. The growth is normally attributed to the nearby discovery of a precious resource such as gold, silver, or oil although the term can also be applied to communities growing very rapidly for different reasons, such as a proximity to a major metropolitan area, huge construction project, or attractive climate.
What is so unique about Huntsville is that it does not follow the guidelines of a typical boomtown while the city is in fact booming? Let me explain.
Huntsville was founded in 1805 by John Hunt. The area quickly became the cotton trading center of the Tennessee Valley region and continued as a small agricultural city, home to 16,000 people until about 1950. At that time, US Senator John Sparkman brought 1,000 German scientists to the Redstone Arsenal following WWII to develop rockets for the US Army. Werner Von Braun was a part of this team which led to the rocket that launched the first US satellite into orbit and later led to sending the first American into space and astronauts on the moon. This success led to massive growth at the Redstone Arsenal, and the growth has trickled throughout the entire Huntsville economy. The city of Huntsville now has more than 203,000 people and will soon be the largest city in Alabama with a metro area population of more than 475,000.
Did you know? A few quick facts on Huntsville’s recent economic growth:
- Huntsville is home to more than 25 bio tech firms
- Cummings Research Park is the 2nd largest research park in the US with over 320 companies
- 47 Fortune 500 companies have operations in Huntsville
- Toyota Motor Manufacturing has 1,800 employees in addition to the planned $2.3B Mazda-Toyota plant that will employ up to 4,000 employees manufacturing SUV’s
- Jeff Bezos Blue Origin Rocket Center is in Huntsville, a $200,000,000 project
- Facebook Data Center in Huntsville has over $1B investment and over 200 jobs
- Mid City is a $850,000,000 commercial real estate project, one of the largest of its kind in the US
- Google Data Center is a $600,000,000 project with 100 jobs
- FBI plans an expansion in Huntsville from 860 jobs to 3,400 jobs
- US Space Command will be headquartered in Huntsville with over 1,600 jobs
- Redstone Arsenal and Marshall Space Center employ over 44,000 people
- Amazon plans to open 1,000,000 SF Fulfillment Center with 500 jobs
The evidence of this boomtown story is important. Huntsville is creating and employing for the jobs of the future, and these well-paying jobs are here to stay. Huntsville’s growth is sustainable, and as real estate investors, we can take advantage of this growth. There is currently a need for more housing in Huntsville. There will be a need for more storage and warehousing, more office buildings to accommodate the entrepreneurs moving into the city and fulfilling medical needs, and retail to accommodate needs for haircuts, groceries, eating out, entertainment, and so on.
During the pandemic last year when business was slower, we started to visit Huntsville regularly. We have since made three investments there that we are quite pleased with. If you have any interest in Huntsville, write us a quick email. Even better, I would recommend a quick trip to the Rocket City. Our future is being created today, just a short drive to the North.