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Lionel Richie, Robin Roberts return to their roots in Tuskegee, Alabama

By GMA Team | Read the original article on Good Morning America.

"American Idol" judge Lionel Richie and "Good Morning America" co-anchor Robin Roberts have a shared history in the Southern town of Tuskegee, Alabama.

Both Roberts and Richie were born in Tuskegee, where Roberts' father served as a Tuskegee Airman.

Richie grew up in the Alabama town, while Roberts and her family moved away shortly after her birth due to her dad's military career.

When the four-time Grammy winner and the "GMA" co-anchor reunited recently in Tuskegee, they reminisced about how Richie's mom, a school teacher, even taught some of Roberts' three siblings in a local school.

"This is more than just a birthplace," Richie told Roberts. "We grew up in history, and so things that people are trying to read about, it was every day."

Tuskegee, a city of around 9,000 people, is home to not only the Tuskegee Airmen -- the country's first African American military pilots -- but other history-making figures including Rosa Parks and Booker T. Washington as well.

Both Roberts and Richie said they remember learning in their childhood that "failure is not an option."

"We grew up on this military base, if you will, and so they had a standard for all of us," Richie said. "Failure is not an option."

Roberts said that phrase was common in her youth, saying, "My daddy used to say that. He used to say it was not an option."

Roberts' father, Col. Lawrence E. Roberts, earned his master's degree in Tuskegee and was an award-winning pilot who served in three wars -- World War II, the Korean War and the Vietnam War -- according to his biography.

It was in World War II that he and other African American pilots flew combat missions as the Tuskegee Airmen for the U.S. Army Air Forces. The legendary airmen, including support staff, are widely regarded as being among the Air Force's finest.

For Richie's visit to Tuskegee with Roberts, he brought his fellow "American Idol" judges Katy Perry and Luke Bryan to show them the accomplishments of his hometown, including the history of the Tuskegee Airmen. "American Idol," which will premiere its 22nd season next year, also hosted hometown auditions in Tuskegee.

"I get to show off Tuskegee," Richie said during his visit. "To bring it back here for me is a chance to get them to understand the roots of another kind of Black America that people don't get to hear and talk about every day."

In addition to showing them his childhood home, Richie also returned to what is now known as Tuskegee University, where he spent most of his beloved early years.

Looking back at his childhood in Tuskegee, Richie, who is preparing for the launch of his new Las Vegas residency, said he never could have imagined his lasting success, saying, "Not in my wildest dreams."

"We just talked about the airmen, Ph.D.s and doctors, and lawyers and planes and flying and stuff, and here I am talking about, 'We're the 'Black Beatles' and we're gonna take over the world,'" Richie said of getting his start in music. "Five years later, we hit. But what I'm surprised at is that it kept going."

50 years and counting, Tuskegee woman still selling newspapers

Written by Judd Davis | Read the original article and watch the video on

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WSFA) - There’s something different about a newspaper. In this day and age, a lot of folks snag their news online. But there’s something special about holding that paper in your hand. Louise Nall started selling The Tuskegee News more than a half-century ago, and she still does.

“56 years I’ve been doing this,” said Louise Nall.

It all started when her 4-year-old son Walter wanted to make some of his own money.

“So I told him we were going to the news office to get some papers. We went there and got 100 papers. Sold those papers so fast we had to go back and get some more,” stated Nall.

Soon, Walter got busy with school and playing in the band, but Miss Nall kept on selling.

“I’ve never been a sitter. No, not me. Everything life offers, I enjoy it.”

So at the young age of 96, two days a week, she’s outside the Piggly Wiggly selling papers.

“I love people. We love to talk about everything.”

“She’s very important,” said Scott Richardson with The Tuskegee News. “She delivers 125-150 papers a week.”

Selling papers gave her a great way to teach her kids about money.

“When you see something you want and can’t afford it now, just get you a job,” said Nall. “Put you a quarter or fifty cents in there every week. You’ll be surprised at how that adds up for you.”

It’s tough to tell what her customers need more, a chance to catch up on the news or just to be around her positive vibes.

“For about the first 15 years I knew her, it was like, ‘How are you, Ms. Nall? Oh, I’m lovely,’” said Richardson.

That about sums her up. Always with a smile, some encouraging words, and a paper if you need one. If you want to visit Miss Nall and get the Tuskegee paper, she’s outside the Piggly Wiggly every Wednesday and Thursday from 10:30 in the morning until all her papers are gone.

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Trendco USA to create 292 jobs at Tuskegee glove manufacturing facility

Written by Jerry Underwood | Read the original article on

MONTGOMERY, Alabama — Governor Kay Ivey announced today that Trendco USA plans to invest $43 million to launch a manufacturing operation in a Tuskegee logistics hub where the company will produce nitrile medical gloves to expand domestic supply.

Columbia, South Carolina-based Trendco has committed to creating 292 jobs over five years at a facility in the new Regional East Alabama Logistics (REAL) Park off Interstate 85 in Macon County. The company also considered sites in Georgia and the Carolinas for the project.

“Trendco decided to locate its manufacturing facility in Tuskegee after considering many locations in other states, and I know that the company made the right choice by selecting Macon County for its investment project,” Governor Ivey said.

“I look forward to seeing the company grow and thrive in Sweet Home Alabama.”

Trendco is an early-stage company that has been producing medical-grade examination gloves in Louisiana through a partnership with another company. For the Tuskegee operation, it plans up to install as many as 10 glove production lines at the REAL Park location.

Once the glove lines are established at the Tuskegee facility, the company plans to expand production into masks and gowns, ensuring a reliable domestic source for these important PPE items to mitigate potential supply chain disruptions.

“We are very excited about our move to Alabama and look forward to building our PPE manufacturing facility in Tuskegee,” Trendco USA CEO Darryl Hunter said.

“We believe the people of Tuskegee and the surrounding communities will play a vital role in our success in the medical technology sector.”

Growth Catalyst

Greg Canfield, Secretary of the Alabama Department of Commerce, said Trendco’s growth project validates the vision to move forward with ambitious development plans for REAL Park.

“The park is perfectly positioned to capitalize on the growth of the I-85 corridor, and I believe other companies will be putting down roots there in the near future,” he added.

Trendco has signed an agreement to lease over 100,000-square-feet of space in Building 100 in REAL Park, where the company will initially set up a distribution operation as it prepares to launch glove production.

Building 100, a 168,000-square-foot facility, represents the catalyst project for the 700-acre Class A industrial park located off Exit 42 on I-85, which runs from Montgomery to Atlanta and beyond.

REAL Park will eventually offer a combined 6.2 million square feet of space when the project’s three phases are completed in five to seven years, according to Justin Patwin, a principal at Farpoint Development , the master developer leading the project.

“We and our partners at OPAL are very excited to welcome Trendco to REAL Park,” Patwin said. “They are making a significant commitment to Macon County and the State of Alabama to bring many new jobs to the community — we feel this is an incredible start to the overall economic impact REAL Park will have in the region.”

“We created The OPAL Fund to invest in catalytic projects that could produce compelling returns for both investors and communities across Alabama, and Building 100 is the perfect example of that thesis in action,” added Alex Flachsbart, founder and CEO of Opportunity Alabama (OPAL) and principal of The OPAL Fund , the lead investor in Building 100.

Joe Turnham, director of the Macon County Economic Development Authority , said having a completed Class A industrial facility in Building 100 of REAL Park alongside a seasoned development team — led by Farpoint Development and OPAL — that was willing to quickly customize the facility to the client’s needs, were major factors in winning the project.

“Trendco USA also chose our community, in part because of our community’s rich history and our local stakeholders’ spirit of enthusiastic partnership in assuring their company’s success,” Turnham said. “Trendco USA is the only minority-owned medical glove and PPE manufacturer in America and is one of the few companies offering ‘Made in the USA’ medical glove products.

“Now, these gloves will also carry a ‘Made in Tuskegee’ label.”

The Macon County Commission, Macon County Economic Development Authority and other local institutions are supporting the Trendco project with utility upgrades and industrial access road at the site worth $1.1 million and other in-kind services. AIDT, the state’s primary workforce development agency, is also providing services to advance the project.

Rural Impact

Brenda Tuck, Rural Development Manager at the Alabama Department of Commerce, said the state’s rural areas continue to register rising levels of economic development, with over $4 billion in new capital investment in the last three years alone.

“We’re committed to seeing rural Alabama fully realize its growth potential, and this project headed to Tuskegee is another illustration of how we’re making progress on that front,” Tuck said. “Opportunities are flourishing in the state’s rural communities, and the business world is paying attention.”

‘Building 100’ in I-85 logistics hub opens amid ambitious growth plans

Written by Jerry Underwood | Read the original article on

TUSKEGEE, Alabama — The Regional East Alabama Logistics (REAL) Park, which aims to supercharge economic growth in the Tuskegee region, is open for business with the commissioning of the first building in the logistics hub.

Doster Construction Co. and Farpoint Development announced this week that construction has been completed on Building 100, an expandable 168,000-square-foot structure that’s ready for occupancy.

“This first structure in REAL Park has already generated dozens of inquiries, proposals and interest for other build-to-suit opportunities,” said Joe Turnham, director of the Macon County Economic Development Authority. “With our Farpoint team members, we are confident that REAL Park will become the new diamond along the I-85 corridor.”

Building 100 represents the catalyst project for a planned 6.2 million-square-foot, 638-acre Class A industrial park near Tuskegee that is calculated to generate more than $450 million of total economic output in the region.

“This dream park, when fully developed, will bring hundreds of millions of dollars of new capital investment and hundreds of jobs, not to mention needed revenue to our schools and local governments here in Macon County,” Turnham added.

“Within a decade, I can envision this project recasting our future for prosperity.”

Game Changer

Investment in the first phase of the project is approximately $20 million, the park’s backers said when construction started in June 2022.

Farpoint, which has offices in Chicago and Asheville, North Carolina, is actively marketing Building 100 as an industrial facility for lease.

“REAL Park is a game-changer not just for Macon County, but the whole state of Alabama, because it will attract global businesses to the region. We have been blown away by the amount of interest in REAL Park that we’ve received from companies around the world,” said Justin Patwin, principal at Farpoint Development.

Turnham said the team has several serious prospects for Building 100 and hope to have a tenant lined up by this summer.

He added that discussions are under way on the possibility of constructing another speculative building in the park. In addition, brokers are in discussions for several build-to-suit, lease options for tenants.

“The I-85 corridor between Montgomery and the Georgia line is getting very mature and needs new inventory of sites to promote the State of Alabama,” Turnham said.

Powering Growth

The entire master-planned project lies in a Qualified Opportunity Zone and federal, state and local incentives are available for qualified projects.

The property is strategically located in a fast-growing automotive corridor along I-85 between Kia’s West Point Assembly Plant in Georgia, and Hyundai Motor Manufacturing Alabama in Montgomery.

REAL Park is approximately 200 miles from the Port of Mobile — the only deep-water port in Alabama and one of the busiest in the nation — and a short drive from major airports.

“REAL Park will better position Macon County to take full advantage of economic growth along the I-85 corridor,” said Greg Canfield, Secretary of the Alabama Department of Commerce.

“Having this available building onsite will energize the development team’s efforts to quickly capitalize on the possibilities in industries such as automotive, aerospace, forest products and manufacturing,” he added.

Brenda Tuck, Rural Development Manager for the Alabama Department of Commerce, said REAL Park is another example of a forward-thinking project that will plant the seeds for economic growth in a rural area.

“The logistics park will better position the entire area for opportunities that can add new dimensions to Macon County’s economy and power sustainable growth,” Tuck said.

Contact us

Joe Turnham
608 Dibble Street, Suite 7
Tuskegee, AL 36083