The Montgomery Area Chamber of Commerce awarded the Chairman’s Award, its highest honor, to EJI at its annual meeting on Tuesday.
A packed audience gave EJI director Bryan Stevenson a standing ovation in recognition of the national attention and tourism growth that EJI’s Legacy Museum and National Memorial for Peace and Justice have brought to Montgomery. The sites have transformed the city, and local business leaders are thrilled.
Since they opened in April 2018, the two sites have drawn more than 650,000 visitors from across the country and around the world, including church groups, students, teachers, descendants and communities, executives and board members from top companies and nonprofits, and lawmakers.
Montgomery has experienced a 15.5% increase in travel spending—the largest ever recorded by the state, the Montgomery Advertiser reported. New hotels opened, more people are using the airport, the city has drawn national media attention, and over 1,200 new jobs were announced.
Montgomery can build on this year’s growth and create meaningful, lasting change if residents are willing to have uncomfortable conversations and make uncomfortable decisions, Mayor Steven Reed told the chamber members in his keynote address. “If we’re willing to come out of our silos, if we’re willing to come out of our corners of comfort, I am ultimately convinced that we can accomplish the greatest things that have been discussed, that have been thought about and talked about and not done over the last 50 years.”