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In April the inaugural Huntsville Championship, a Korn Ferry Tour event, was slated to tee off for the first time at The Ledges. However, due to the coronavirus pandemic, the event was pushed back a year and will launch for the first time in April 2021.

The event is part of a five-year partnership between Knight Eady, a sports marketing and event management firm; the Korn Ferry Tour, the PGA Tour’s developmental tour; the city of Huntsville and The Ledges. While an ongoing global pandemic created unforeseen challenges for the first-year event, Huntsville’s corporate landscape created a unique challenge in and of itself. The idea of sports marketing through a professional golf event is like a foreign language for most partners, vendors and contractors with Redstone Arsenal. Thus, convincing the majority of businesses in Huntsville to partner with such an event was daunting.

With many lessons learned and another year of planning for the inaugural event, Knight Eady had a longer runway to build a practical and cost-diverse platform of options for the potential partners, vendors and contractors at Redstone Arsenal. To ensure a path to success, Knight Eady knew it would be essential to create solutions that brought about real impact in the areas critical to these firms. The structure of these partnerships required a unique intersection of business goals and objectives and creative sports marketing.

Thus, the Redstone Row and the Huntsville Championship Fore Cyber Progress programs were born.

The Redstone Row program focuses on veterans, social connectivity and creating an edge in recruiting. To better connect the Huntsville Championship with the community, we wanted to find a tangible way to benefit veterans. The Huntsville Championship partnered with the Community Foundation of Greater Huntsville to create a Huntsville Championship Veterans Fund, where 10% of all contributions made directly to the Redstone Row program would go to benefit the local causes of Huntsville that directly support veterans. Beyond the financial aid, Redstone Row also sought to create an opportunity to honor our veterans and their service by housing an all-inclusive hospitality area where veterans could attend for free while enjoying a front-row seat to a professional golf event.

We also learned that recruiting in Huntsville is highly competitive and intense, and creating any kind of edge regarding work and culture is essential. As part of the Redstone Row program, the Huntsville Championship is partnering with higher education institutions across the state to bring in juniors and seniors pursuing careers in engineering and have security clearance or are working toward internships to gain security clearance. The week of the tournament, the Huntsville Championship would then host these students and recruiters from our partners in Redstone Row in a less-pressured, more authentic environment where recruiters can engage with a student and vice versa.

The Redstone Row program has already seen significant success. The Huntsville Championship’s goal is to have 10 companies participate. There are currently six in the program, including Dynetics, SESI, Radiance, Yulista, Intrepid and Stevens Aerospace.

The Huntsville Championship Fore Cyber Progress initiative is a collaborative approach to assist the Rocket City’s quest to be at the forefront of the cyber movement. The concept’s goal is to encourage local high school students to attend local higher education institutions that will lead to opportunities to work for local companies post-graduation through a sustainable scholarship program. Like Redstone Row, 10% of commitments made to the Fore Cyber Progress program would go to a grant created through the Community Foundation that would serve as a scholarship fund for the University of Alabama in Huntsville and Alabama A&M University. The scholarships would support incoming first-year students at either school who have attended either Huntsville City or Madison City/County schools and are pursuing a career path in cyber.

The Huntsville Championship Fore Cyber Progress Program would also include a match structure. For every hospitality credential that a company receives, the Huntsville Championship will also provide a credential for a student in one of the aforementioned schools and involved in some kind of cyber elective or course work. The long-term goal is to incentivize, inspire and encourage participation in cyber programming by creating greater access to the field of study and facilitating networking among students and industry leaders.

Through Redstone Row and the Huntsville Championship Fore Cyber Progress programs, the Huntsville Championship believes that it has successfully found the perfect intersection of business objective, community impact and sports marketing. The tournament looks forward to engaging with more of the unique industry that thrives off the Redstone Arsenal business.

For more information contact Caleb Schmidt, the vice president of corporate partnerships for Knight Eady, at caleb@knighteady.com.

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