Alabama State Council

John McMillan
Commissioner, Department of Agriculture and Industry

Greg Canfield
Commissioner, Alabama Department of Commerce
J.T. “Jabo” Waggoner
Former Senate Majority Leader, Rules Chairman
Sandy Stimpson
Mayor of Mobile
Vivian Figures
Former Senate Minority Leader, Finance Committee, Local Legislation

Victor Gaston
Alabama House of Representatives, Acting Speaker of the House
James K. “Jimmy” Lyons
Director/CEO, Alabama State Port Authority
Johnny Adams
Executive Director, Alabama Poultry Association
Billy Powell
Executive Vice President, Alabama Cattlemen Association
Jerry Carl
President, Mobile County Commission
Greg Reed
Alabama Senate, Senate Majority Leader
Quinton Ross
Alabama Senate, Senate Minority Leader
Hank Sanders
Alabama Senate, Banking and Finance Committees
Tom Whatley
Alabama Senate, Chairman, Agriculture Committee
Rusty Glover
Alabama Senate, Agriculture Committee
Clay Scofield
Alabama Senate, Agriculture Committee
Tim Melson
Alabama Senate, Agriculture and Tourism Committees
Gerald Dial
Alabama Senate, Energy and Veterans Affairs Committees



Mark Jackson
Alabama Honorary Consul General, Japan; Morrison Conference, Inc.
John Key
International Trade Consultant
Pan American Council on Trade, LLC
Jerry Lathan
Lathan Company
Scott Myers
Alabama Sports Hall of Fame
Mitt Walker
International and Federal Regulations
Alabama Farmers Association
Scott Phillips
Strada Professional Services, LLC, Engineering
Mayra Diaz, International Sales
Amerex Corporation
Grey Redditt
Maynard Cooper and Gale Law Firm,
Mobile Sister Cities Commission

Stanley Murphy
Murphy & Murphy, LLC;
The Cuba Center, University of Alabama
Christina McInnis, Bilateral Trade with Cuba
GulfWise Commerce
D. Davies Hood, Jr., President
Induron Coatings
Springna Zhao, Partner
LAN Consulting LLC
Beth Chapman
Former Alabama Secretary of State, 
Beth Chapman & Associates, LLC
Mark A. Froehlich, Principal
Impact Partners
Sara Kate Sullivan
Universidad Torcuato Di Tella (Buenos Aires, Argentina)
Marty Connors
M. J. Connors Consulting





Engage Cuba: Alabama Legislature Unanimous Call for Congress to Lift Cuban Embargo Is 'Significant'

Today, the state of Alabama became the latest state to call on Congress to listen to the majority of Americans from both parties to lift the Cuban trade embargo and normalize relations with the Island’s government. Senate Joint Resolution 43, introduced by State Senators Jabo Waggoner (R-Birmingham) and Vivian Davis Figures (D-Mobile), calls on Congress to lift the Cuban embargo. Senate Joint Resolution 43 passed both the majority Republican Alabama Senate and House of Representatives with unanimous support.

op-ed: Travel, trade embargo on Cuba hurts Alabama businesses

by Mayor Sandy Stimpson, Sen. Vivian Figures, Sen. Jabo Waggoner, and Commissioner John McMillan

Despite the fact that the Port of Mobile is located just across the Gulf of Mexico, Alabama businesses will continue to lose out on Cuba's growing markets to foreign competitors until Congress ends the U.S. travel and trade embargo on Cuba. This 50-year-old isolationist policy is not only infringing on Alabamians' right to choose with whom they can and can't do business; it has also negatively impacted the Cuban people. The time has come for Congress to lift the travel and trade embargo with Cuba. 

Bloomberg: Cuba's First American-Owned Manufacturer Will Make Tractors

“Come on, boy! Get dressed! We got to go!” yells Horace Clemmons. He’s heckling his longtime friend and business associate, Saul Berenthal, who sits cross-legged on a leather chair in the living room of Clemmons’s home in Paint Rock, Alabama. It’s a Tuesday in mid-April, and the duo is scheduled to give a presentation to a group of local investors about their new business, Cleber. In February, the U.S. Department of the Treasury approved Cleber’s request to be the first U.S.-based company to construct and operate a manufacturing facility in Cuba. They plan to build low-tech tractors for small farms.

Birmingham Business Journal: Cuba Market Would Be Lucrative to Alabama, Report Says

With American trade and travel restrictions on Cuba loosening, a new report suggests Alabama could significantly benefit from further growth in economic ties between the two nations. That's particularly true for Alabama's largest agricultural industry. A new report from the Engage Cuba Coalition and the U.S. Agriculture Coalition for Cuba, Alabama's agricultural commodities are in a position to become more competitive with the addition of Cuban markets.

Miami Herald: Alabama Company Says Cuba Needs its Tractors, But Approval Process is Slow

An Alabama tractor company angling to become the first American business in more than a half century to set up manufacturing operations in Cuba is about midway through the approval process. Cleber, based in Paint Rock, Alabama, outside Huntsville, wants to assemble small tractors in Cuba’s Mariel Special Economic Development Zone for use in Cuba and beyond. The simple tractor model that Cleber wants to produce is called Oggún in homage to the Santeria god of iron, tools and weapons, and it’s designed for small-scale farming.

People's World: Alabama Tractors Till the Soil of U.S.-Cuba Cooperation

Saul Berenthal and Horace Clemmons have a dream. They want to outfit the farmers of Cuba with small, customizable, easy-to-repair tractors. Cuban-born Berenthal and Alabama native Clemmons are the co-owners of Cleber LLC, an American firm which, if all goes as planned, will soon be setting up a tractor manufacturing plant in the Mariel Special Economic Zone.

Wear-TV: Area business to sell goods to Cuba

Despite a continuing trade embargo with Cuba, Gulfwise Commerce has become an exception. Earlier this month, federal officials gave them a license to sell some goods to the island nation. Christina McInnis is with the Gulfwise Commerce, which is also an offshoot of Woerner Companies in Foley. They are working on agriculture equipment that will be sold and shipped to Havana. "It was very humbling to be asked to get agriculture equipment because there are bigger companies out there," McInnis said.

alabama newscenter: the cuba thaw will be big for alabama and other producers of frozen chickens

Less than 100 miles off the U.S. coast sits an island nation that can't feed itself. Cuba, which imports as much as 80 percent of its food, has developed a huge appetite for American chicken, despite the decades-long trade embargo. That's why few businesses are as excited about normalized relations as poultry producers in Alabama, Georgia and Arkansas. Chicken is one of Cuba's top imports, and an exemption to the embargo for agricultural products has made the country the fifth-largest export market for U.S. poultry producers. 

weartv: area business to sell goods to cuba

An area business is breaking barriers. Despite a continuing trade embargo with Cuba, Gulfwise Commerce has become an exception. Earlier this month, federal officials gave them a license to sell some goods to the island nation. Christina McInnis is with Gulwise Commerce, which is also an offshoot of Woerner Companies in Foley. They are working on agriculture equipment that will be sold and shipped to Havana. "It was very humbling to be asked to get agriculture equipment because there are bigger companies out there," McInnis said. 


The Cuban government has made its first purchase of U.S. commercial equipment since the Obama administration began loosening restrictions on trade with the communist country in December 2014. The Commerce Department's Bureau of Industry and Security issued a license late last week to Alabama-based GulfWise Commerce to reportedly sell more than $100,000 in advanced planting and harvesting equipment to Cuba. Arrangements are being made for shipment, said Robert Muse, a lawyer representing the company, which is a subsidiary of the Woerner Companies. The importer on the Cuban side is government-operated Tecnotext SA, and the equipment will be used by a government-owned agricultural research institution.

The Crimson White: New Exhibit from Chip Cooper Compares South Alabama and Cuba

The walls of Chip Cooper’s office are a collage of memories and stories more photograph than wall, and his furniture — a display of about 25 different cameras spanning the past half-century. The room exudes character and creativity. Chris Cooper is a professional photographer who teaches with the Honors College and has worked with the University much of his life. 

The Anniston Star: Alabama Entrepreneurs Hope Cuba is Fertile Territory for New Venture

In less than two weeks, American businessmen Horace Clemmons and Saul Berenthal will board a chartered flight for Cuba. Their destination: an agricultural fair in Havana, the island nation’s capital. Once there, the two will show Cuban farmers and Alabama-made tractor designed, they say, with those farmers in mind, and slated to be produced from Cuba’s first American-owned plant in more than 50 years. 

Alabama News: Alabama Company Approved to Build Factory in Cuba

Cleber LLC is pleased to announce that it has received authorization from the U.S. Department of Commerce and the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) to build a tractor manufacturing facility in Cuba. This was made possible through changes announced February 4th by the Department of Treasury and OFAC that establish a framework for American companies to participate in projects to help Cuba improve its economic environment and become a partner in the global economy. 

Agri View: Alabama Firm to Build Cuba Plant

Cleber LLC plans to build a tractor-manufacturing facility in Cuba after receiving authorization form the U.S. Department of Commerce and the Office of Foreign Assets Control. In early February, the U.S. Department Treasury and the Office of Foreign Assets Control established a framework for American companies to participate in projects to help Cuba improve its economy and become a partner in the global economy. 

The New York Times: Culture Gap Impedes U.S. Business Efforts for Trade with Cuba

They have gone to Cuba with plans to build houses. To assemble tractors. To buy apps from young programmers. Even to import charcoal made from the sickle bush that grows in vast stretches across the island. But 15 months after American prospectors began swarming Havana, filling hotels and hiring consultants, only a handful have inked deals to do business with the once-forbidden island. 

Local 15: Local Business with Cuba

The future of trading with Cuba; Presidential candidates talked about it last night and one local company was listening in closely. Right now efforts to do business with the communist “island nation” are already underway. One local company out of Foley is hoping they can keep the momentum going. Alabama Has a Proud, Rich History with Cuba, We Should Capitalize On It

No one would ever confuse us with communist sympathizers, but Alabama has a surprisingly strong relationship with Cuba. In fact, over the last several decades, Alabama has spearheaded efforts to reopen trade and deepen the US relationship with Cuba. As President Obama and the rest of the nation move to normalize trade relations with the communist country, Alabama introduced limited trade and developed education exchanges more than a decade ago. Sewell Seeks Economic Opportunities for Alabama with Cuba Trip

U.S. Rep. Terri Sewell, D-Birmingham, began a five-day trip to Cuba on Wednesday as part of a congressional delegation looking into more American economic opportunities in the island nation. While there is a trade and travel embargo with Cuba, certain American agricultural products — Alabama’s biggest industry — are exempt form the ban. The Yellowhammer state exported nearly a third of a billion dollars in products to Cuba last year. Cuba Embargo News: How Would Alabama Benefit From End to Travel, Trade Ban?

Alabama’s agriculture, auto and cruise industries would be the biggest winners should Congress lift the embargo on trade and travel with and to Cuba — a move that Gov. Robert Bentley endorses. James Williams, the president of Engage Cuba, an umbrella coalition of private sector companies, trade associations and nonprofits that are working to help Congress end the embargo, said there are “very immediate, natural benefits” to Alabama if the 55-year-old embargo is lifted. 










Alabama public radio: alabama seeks to lift cuba embargo, deadline for north AL Disaster Loans

Alabama may see the creation of new jobs abroad in the future if the governor approves a recent joint resolution from the state legislature. ... Addie Bryant is the chief of staff at Engage Cuba. She says if the resolution is passed, Alabama can expect to see some definite economic benefits. "You'll see the Port of Mobile pick up business. You'll begin to see commodities start shipping through there, and with Cleber leading the way in the manufacturing space, there is an expectation that business will improve and I wouldn't be surprised if, quite frankly, you see some cruise lines starting to cruise out of Mobile." 

local 15: alabama benefits from improved cuba relations

President Barack Obama wrapped up his historic trip to Cuba Tuesday, as he continued to push for improved relations between Cuba and the United States. In the president's speech in Havana, he called for the U.S. trade embargo against Cuba to be lifted and for Cubans themselves to embrace change. But could that change create opportunities in the Port City? ... If the trade embargo was lifted, it could open us up for even more business. 

Montgomery Advertiser: Cuba Trade Expansion Could Mean Good Things for Alabama Businesses

Maneuvers in the halls of power in Washington, D.C., could pay dividends in Alabama’s fields, forests and factories. … Still, Alabama could profit from a shift in Cuba policy, said Jimmy Lyons, chief operating officer for the Alabama Port Authority, which operates the Port of Mobile. Auburn University Signs Pact with Cuba: Why it Matters to Alabama

Beyond the headlines of new diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Cuba, Auburn University is put that diplomacy into action. The school has signed an academic exchange pact with Agrarian University of Havana and the Cuban National Center for Animal and Plant Health. 

YellowHammer Radio: Byrne: Cuba Could be a Major Trade Partner for Alabama, But Has a Long Way to Go

I recently traveled to Cuba as part of a Congressional Delegation to learn more about the Cuban government, visit with the Cuban people, and discuss everything from the economy to education to trade. This visit at a particularly interesting time as the United States remains in negotiations with Cuba about restoring diplomatic and economic relations. 

Montgomery Advertiser: Alabama Could Benefit from U.S.-Cuba Thaw

Selling chickens to Cuba is complicated. “If the Cubans want to buy chickens in the United States, before they load it on a ship, they have to pay a bank outside the country,” said Jimmy Lyons, director of the Alabama State Port Authority, which oversees the docks in Mobile. “Those funds have to be sent to a bank in the United States. Only then can the chickens be loaded on a ship.” If that seems like a peculiar example, consider: Alabama ships roughly 32,000 tons of frozen chicken to Cuba each year, part of a broad economic relationship with Cuba that chiefly involves agricultural trade. 

Tuscaloosa News: Cuban Novelist Leonardo Padura Will Speak at University of Alabama

Cuban novelist and screenwriter Leonardo Padura will present a free public lecture at the University of Alabama on Jan. 21. … Padura’s lecture, sponsored by the Center for Cuba Collaboration and Scholarship, will discuss his character Mario Conde, a detective who appears in his works, and the probing the cultural, historical and political trajectory of Cuba from 1959 to 2015. U.S. Recognizes in Cuba What Mobile has Seen for Decades: Opinion

Sealing an unofficial sister city relationship with Havana, Mobile Mayor Mike Dow said during a trip to Cuba in 1994: “We must take an effort to get along and create a better world.” Twenty years later, as the U.S. restores full diplomatic relations with Cuba, it’s becoming clear just how wise Mobile was to foster a friendship with Havana. Indeed, the sky is the limit for how the city can benefit from untapped commerce and tourism with a place that’s been mostly off limits since 1963. 

UA News: UA Establishes Center for Cuba Collaboration and Scholarship

The University of Alabama Board of Trustees approved today the establishment of the Center for Cuba Collaboration and Scholarship at UA. The new research center will build on the activities of the Alabama-Cuba Initiative, a 13-year effort to establish educational opportunities in Cuba for UA students and faculty. Both the center and the initiative efforts have been led by UA’s College of Arts and Sciences. 

The Crimson White: Alabama Student Studies Abroad in Havana, Cuba

Q: How does your daily life in Cuba differ from what it was like in America?

A: My general routine is mostly the same, but the details are much different. First thing every morning in the U.S., I check the weather on my phone, but here I have to pay for Internet by the hour, and I can only use it in the lobby of our hotel. To get to class, I take a “maquina,” essentially an old 1950s car full of strangers. When I see one of my friends on campus, we give kisses on the cheek to greet one another. State, mobile leaders call for open trade with cuba

State Sens. J.T. "Jabo" Waggoner and Vivian Figures, as well as Mobile Mayor Sandy Stimpson, were among those on hand to establish the formation of the Alabama State Council of the Engage Cuba Coalition. Engage Cuba, which describes itself as "the leading advocacy organization working to end the travel and trade embargo on Cuba," already has started state councils in eight other states.

Speakers at Tuesday's press conference were uniformly upbeat about the prospect of open relations with Cuba, describing it as a win-win for Alabama businesses and the Cuban people.


Alabama's Champions

Governor Robert Bentley (R) Signed SJR 43: Joint State Resolution to Urge Congress to Lift the Cuban Trade Embargo

Governor Robert Bentley (R)

Signed SJR 43: Joint State Resolution to Urge Congress to Lift the Cuban Trade Embargo

Representative Mo Brooks (R-AL-5) Cosponsor of H.R. 525 Cuba Agricultural Exports Act

Representative Mo Brooks (R-AL-5)

Cosponsor of H.R. 525 Cuba Agricultural Exports Act

State Senator J.T. Waggoner (R) Represents District 16 Sponsor of SJR 43: Joint State Resolution Urging U.S. Congress to Lift the Cuban Trade Embargo

State Senator J.T. Waggoner (R)

Represents District 16

Sponsor of SJR 43: Joint State Resolution Urging U.S. Congress to Lift the Cuban Trade Embargo