Rental Property Investing: Profit or Loss?

Is Central Alabama’s residential rental market where the smart money lives? Get insight on the pros and cons of this real estate investment from locals who are landlords.

Investing in rental property can prove lucrative in both the short and long terms and be a valuable tool for building wealth. It pays you passive and recurring monthly income. Plus, down the line, if you made wise choices when buying, you may be able to sell your properties for more (sometimes much more) than your purchase price. But, like all investments, it comes with risks, and being a rental property owner has challenges too. We asked Central Alabama real estate pros and successful rental property owners for their thoughts.

Around 34% of households live in rental housing. 42% of those live in single-family homes, while 36% live in apartments with five or more units. Almost half of renters are under 30 years old.


Right Time?

While the housing market is cooling a bit, both nationally and locally, home prices remain high. But, so do borrowing rates. Raised interest rates are a double-edged sword for rental property investing. They mean it costs more to buy and own a rental house. On the flip side, high rates also keep others from buying homes, which eventually drives home prices down. Financial news stalwart Kiplinger also points to good things for rental property investors in the near future, reporting an uptick (from 3 percent to 12 percent in 2022) in new homes being built specifically to be rented.

Times could be changing though; other numbers show rental demand starting to weaken. October 2022 was the third month in a row where rental rates went down, according to a report from According to, in 2022, the profits on single-family home rentals fell in 72 percent of the counties in the United States. The picture at the local level seems a bit rosier. Carol Bowman, a Realtor with Lucretia Cauthen Realty, LLC who’s been in River Region real estate for five years, calls the rental market in our area “strong” and says it derives its strength mainly from the presence of the Air Force base in Montgomery, as well as the successful recruitment of businesses with jobs that draw newcomers.

“The rental market serves many military families coming to Maxwell-Gunter,” she said. “Also, people moving to the area for the first time for new jobs prefer to rent first until they learn the area and then buy a home.” While a steady stream of military families is good news for rental property investors, for other local renters, it’s not always a plus. According to, the monthly housing stipend provided to military officers with families at Maxwell-Gunter AFB ranges from $1,995-$2,250 per month, and there are often complaints that this drives rent rates up, decreasing affordability and options.

Right Place?

It can be tough to know which statistics to trust, so many experts suggest putting your energy into finding the right house in the right spot for the right price instead of trying to “time the market,” a difficult feat for even the most seasoned real estate pros. And right spot is an important piece of the equation. Just like a house you buy to live in yourself, one fact never changes: the No. 1 consideration is location. (It’s actually Nos. 2 and 3 too!) It’s essential to understand the community and neighborhoods where you’re shopping for rental property.

Local rental property investor Deborah Dias stressed that there are exceptions to this rule. “I know people say LOCATION, LOCATION, LOCATION, but don’t decide for others where they may want to live just because you don’t want to live there,” she said. “They may care about being close to their family and friends, close to their job, close to their daycare, close to their church home, close to their school or within their budget. So, if the property fits your other criteria, I’d still consider buying it.”

She knows of what she speaks. Currently, Dias owns four townhomes, three of which are occupied; one four-plex, with three units occupied; plus three homes, two of which she’s transforming into duplexes, and three empty lots where she’s planning to place “tiny homes” for rent.

About 70% of rental properties are owned by individual investors, according to census estimates.

Source: CNBC

Right for Me?

The money a landlord makes from rental property is called passive, but that’s not entirely accurate; it doesn’t mean you don’t have to do anything, and the rent checks just roll in. Landlords are responsible for at least some portion of their rental properties’ upkeep. According to, property owners should expect to spend up to 1 percent of their property’s value on routine maintenance. Before you can offer it for rent, a property you purchase may need renovations, either basic repairs to make it livable or cosmetic upgrades to increase its appeal.

Local rental property investor Deborah Dias looks for homes in need of TLC, seeing them as opportunities. “I call my holdings ‘butterfly properties’ because of the transformation you’ll see from fixer-upper caterpillars to beautiful butterflies,” she said. “Even though I may fuss about how long it can take, I really enjoy that part of the process.” But she has been disappointed by the shallow pool of renovation help in our region. “I’m a bit surprised how challenging it has been to find solid, steady, dependable contractors,” she said.

Dias hasn’t let this stop her; she’s learned how to do many home improvements herself. The lesson here: If you’re not into DIY and the idea of chasing down contractors gives you angst, that’s a fact to keep top of mind when choosing properties for your portfolio. Once your houses are looking good, you need to fill them with occupants. If they sit empty, they’re not making you money; they’re costing you.

Bowman noted that “finding good tenants in our area is not difficult.” But again, there is effort involved. Actively marketing your properties is crucial. Dias uses the Affordable Housing website, which also lists on Zillow and other real estate sites, to put her available properties in front of potential renters. Bowman echoed Dias on using the internet. “People shop for everything online now, even homes. Post your home on sites that target rental customers,” she said.

But Dias goes low-tech too. “My daughter made me double-sided, customized ‘For Rent’ signs that I place in front of my units.” You want renters, but the right renters, as Dias explained. “It’s not necessarily hard to find good tenants, but you have to be patient to find those that meet your specific criteria,” she said.

She stressed the importance of a rigorous vetting process. “I require fully filled out applications, with names, addresses and phone numbers of current and previous landlords and employers.” When you’ve got renters moved in, you’re not done. When there’s an issue at a property (a busted pipe, a faulty light switch), you’re the one your tenants call to sort it out. And if a tenant gets behind on rent, you have to make tough choices.

15% of renters (nationwide) were behind on rent payments as of October 2022.

Source: CNBC

Dias is glad she’s only faced the eviction decision once. “I try to work with tenants if they get behind, but they must show solid effort to get back on track. Good communication is key,” she said. You can take many of these tasks off your plate by working with a property management company, but they’ll take a percentage of your rental income in exchange for their services.

The answer to whether the rental market is a smart investment strategy for you lies in your answers to a few other questions, according to Dias: “What is your ‘why’? Is it strictly for immediate money? Is it for a long-term investment? Do you feel you have the temperament to deal with renovations, repairs, tenant relations, neighborhood surroundings, taxes, rental agreements, workers, property managers, etc.? Do you have enough money for the purchase price, renovations and the wait time it takes to get it rented?” she said. “You have to think through every piece of it to know if it’s a good fit.”

Local Pro

With multiple, diverse options in her residential rental property portfolio, Deborah Dias has built a successful business out of real estate investing. But her efforts are about more than making money. She describes the endeavor as continuing a family legacy. “My father’s parents bought a property in the San Francisco Bay Area at a time when people didn’t want to sell to Blacks. In fact, sellers didn’t even want to show them homes. Many times, my grandparents would have to have white friends preview the houses for them,” she said.

Eventually, her grandparents were able to purchase a duplex, and while they lived downstairs, they rented out the upstairs unit. “This was our family’s introduction to ‘income property,’” Dias said. When her dad grew up, he continued in his parents’ footsteps and bought a rental property. Dias stressed that he saw rental property investing as more than business. “In our family, rental property ownership was considered what today might be called ‘socialpreneurship,’” she said. Their motto was and hers is: Make it better than you found it and provide a beautiful, well maintained, good value property

To the Point: Local rental property investor Deborah Dias frequently buys properties in need of some TLC, but steers clear of those that need major overhauls. “I only buy fixer-uppers with little to no structural damage—no roof or foundation headaches, etc.,” she said.

Jina Miniard

Director of Operations

On the Job

I love telling the story of Montgomery and providing a vehicle for our local community to share ideas, information and resources.

All About Me

 I graduated from Auburn University at Montgomery with a dual degree in Elementary and Early Childhood Education. I had big plans to teach and eventually get my doctorate and be a professor, but I ended up finding a job in marketing right after college and never looked back!

I’ve been married for eight years to a saint, Hal Miniard, who loves ALL of me – the good, the bad and the ugly. We have an energetic and outgoing son, Holt, who keeps us busy and on our toes every waking second. 

First Job: Retail– but I never made any money because I always spent my paychecks at the store.  
Favorite Local Small Business: Emily B in Adams Drugs on Perry Hill – they have the best gifts.
Favorite Locally-Owned Restaurant: Way too many to list, but we love El Rey, Taco Mama, SaZa and Tipping Point.
After Hours: I love spending time with my family and friends.

Terry Barber

Director of Sales and Marketing, Alabama National Fair & Owner Manager, Little Engine Broadcasting

On the Job

I split my day doing three different jobs. 1) Director of Sales and Marketing for the Alabama National Fair, 2) Owner Manager of Little Engine Broadcasting which owns two radio brands in Montgomery, Praise 96.5 WMGY and WRBZ and 3) Owner Manager of Little Engine Traffic which performs back office support for radio stations across North America. I enjoy being on the frontline of consumer marketing and behavior. I have been in the broadcasting business for over 40 years and joined the team at the Alabama National Fair in 2021.

All About Me

I came to Montgomery in 1999 to run a group of radio stations. My wife Margaret and I have navigated 38 years of marriage and raised three sons, Peden, David and Michael. 2023 is a busy year for us as we are adding two additional grandchildren (for a total of 5) and a daughter in law. We will need a bigger mantle this year for our Christmas stockings.

  • First job: I took a job at 14 years old at my local radio station in Newton, MS. 
  • Favorite business book: A Framework for Understanding Poverty by Ruby K. Payne, Ph.D.
  • Favorite song: Thunder Island by Jay Ferguson
  • Best business advice you’ve received: Trust but verify.

Layne Holley

Director of Marketing & Communications

On the Job

I focus on three primary areas: promoting ASF’s productions throughout the season, from Shakespeare to classical to contemporary and new works, as well as our camps, classes and tours; ensuring our customer experience is top notch, from the moment you buy your ticket, to everything you do and see that’s not on the stage while you’re with us; sharing far and wide, through partnerships and media, ASF’s brand and mission to build community through transformative theatrical experiences.

All About Me

I grew up in Holtville. I earned my BA at Auburn University at Montgomery and then spent several years living in New York City and building my career in marketing and communications. That’s also where I met my wife, also a Southerner. The pull to be closer to family kept growing, so we moved back to Alabama in 2006 and bought what was always my very favorite house in Wetumpka. It’s been really great to see Wetumpka change and grow over the past few years, and that’s why I’m so excited to be on the editorial board for a magazine that is looking at the region from the intersection of business and community—because change takes all of us.

  • First Job: My very first job was picking up pecans in our large grove for my grandmother — I had the option of being paid by the pound or in cakes and candy.
  • Favorite business book: The Art of Money Getting by P.T. Barnum
  • Favorite song: Depends on the day and the mood, but I can always enjoy some Andrews Sisters.
  • Best business advice you’ve received: Always know who you’re talking to.

Joshua Byrd

Assistant Vice President & Relationship Manager, River Bank & Trust

On the Job

My job is all about forming and cultivating strong relationships. At some point in everyone’s lives they have a need for a banker. My role is to provide expertise and assistance to them. I enjoy seeing individuals’ short-term and long-term goals be accomplished. There are times I play a major role in seeing those goals to the end, and other times I can witness those successes, which is fulfilling. I have the opportunity to form relationships and connections in the community that I may not have otherwise formed.

All About Me

My family is originally from the small rural town of Gray Court, South Carolina, with a whopping population of 845. After graduating from Clemson University and living in the Clemson area, my father accepted a job with Russell Corporation in Alexander City in 1991, relocating us from South Carolina to Alexander City. Six years later, we moved to Millbrook. Now, my wife Missy, my daughter Kynleigh, and my son Kai continue to reside in Millbrook.

  • First job: My first job was at McDonalds on Highway 14 in Millbrook. 
  • Favorite business book: Rich Dad Poor Dad by Robert Kiyosaki 
  • Best business advice you’ve received: “Always treat people how you want to be treated. This goes beyond being nice. This means doing what you say you will do, within the timeframe that you said you would do it. Be punctual, respecting everyone’s time. Be respectful. Be honest, always.” 

Darryl Washington

Director of The Department of Economic Development, City of Montgomery

On the Job

As the City of Montgomery’s leading economic development practitioner, I promote, develop and implement programs and activities that; provide sustainable economic impact to the City of Montgomery and it’s stakeholders, creates vibrant spaces throughout the City and connect citizens with job opportunities. What I love most about my job is collaborating with various community stakeholders to improve the quality of life and place for our community.

All About Me

I grew up in Birmingham with a strong and nurturing family and community support system. I graduated from Ramsay High School, received my BA degree in Marketing/Management from Morehouse College and I earned a Masters in Public and Private Management. I’ve worked in the field of Economic Development for over 25 years in Columbus, GA and Birmingham, AL. Prior to joining Mayor Steven Reed’s Cabinet in May 2022, I served as Chief Operating Officer for Urban Impact, a nonprofit contracted by the City of Birmingham to lead the revitalization of Birmingham’s Civil Rights National Monument District.

  • First job: My first job was a newspaper carrier for the Birmingham News when I was 10 years old.
  • Favorite business book: Good to Great by Jim Collins
  • Favorite song: Joy and Pain by Maze featuring Frankie Beverly
  • Best business advice you’ve received: In every adversity, look for the benefit that comes from it. Even bad experiences offer benefits, but you have to look for them.

Clay McInnis

Montgomery City Council District 7, McInnis Construction and Partners Realty

On the Job

A few years ago, I wrote down why I do what I do. My purpose is to connect people to people and people to resources. I love it and try to live it every day. I like to say City Council is “full time expectations but a part time job!” It has been very challenging, but it has been an honor and privilege to be a public servant. I have met amazing people doing amazing things in this community. Our family construction firm has been building bridges across Alabama and the southeast for over fifty years. We connect people to people and people to resources.

All About Me

I moved back to Montgomery after finishing business school at Auburn. I saw a reporter on WSFA and fell in love. I thought to myself, “I really really need to meet her.” Melissa and I have been married 10 amazing years. We have two wonderful boys, Anderson and Edwin, and the coolest dog in town, Bert.

  • First job: I grew up in a family business, so doing odd and end jobs were normal.
  • Favorite business book: The Infinite Game by Simon Sinek
  • Favorite song: I’ve Always Loved You by Third Day
  • Best business advice you’ve received: “As technology enables trust in new forms, we’re seeing a decline of trust in institutions. Institutional trust was not designed for the digital age.” – Rachel Botsman

Ashley Taylor, CPA/ABV,CFF, CVA/MAFF

Principal, Jackson Thornton Valuation & Litigation Consulting Group

On the Job

I work with our clients to help them determine the value of their business whether they want to sell, gift for estate planning purposes, or bring on a potential investor. I love this line of our business because the clients get to tell their stories. I get to work in a multitude of industries and typically hear how a close family or entrepreneur brought their dreams to life through their business. On the litigation side, my sister likes to tell people I fight crime with numbers.  I provide attorneys with litigation support to determine economic damages in cases related to business interruption, loss in business value, lost profits, marital dissolution, and personal injury to name a few.

All About Me

I grew up in Katy, Texas. My family relocated to Millbrook, AL when my stepdad received an offer to rebuild a hospital computer system in Montgomery. Based on the initial culture shock, my plan was always to go to college and never come back. However, I took a job offer at Jackson Thornton and got so involved in the community that I just didn’t want to leave. I wanted to do what I could to help tell the story of Montgomery and all the opportunities the community has to offer. Also, I met a boy that was not interested in moving to Texas.  

  • First job: I worked at a Mexican restaurant as a hostess in high school.
  • Favorite business book: I just started reading Good to Great by Jim Collins. 
  • Favorite song: Get Outta My Dreams, Get Into My Car by Billy Ocean 
  • Best business advice you’ve received: Always be a gate-opener, not a gatekeeper. Go to lunch with your partners and invite a younger staff person to join. Attend a client meeting and bring someone that could bode well from the experience. In each situation, you are helping someone else build their network or grow professionally.

Ashley Jernigan

Owner and Principal, JDB Hospitality, LLC

On the Job

JDB Hospitality municipalities, organizations, and higher ed institutions develop strategic plans to expand their hospitality and tourism efforts. My work allows me to be at the pulse of what’s new and happening in Montgomery. Allowing me to highlight, expose and consult with new restaurants, attractions, and entertainment venues. I am on the state tourism’s board of directors allowing me direct access to national media, statewide tourism professionals, and a statewide master calendar of events where I additionally find ways to tell Montgomery’s unique story and promote what’s happening in the area. All with the intention to increase visitorship to the city.

All About Me

I came to Montgomery, sight unseen, in 2004 to attend ASU. In fact, I came on scholarship after writing an essay outlining my future goals which essentially explained I would make ASU and Montgomery proud by doing exactly what I am doing today! I met my husband Carl just months after graduation. We have been married for 8 years and have two children, Helena and Ashton, and our black lab, Carly. 

  • First job: Student Worker in the Community Relations Dept at Alabama State University 
  • After hours: RV’ing at a State Park with my family 
  • Favorite song: Just Do You by India Arie 
  • Best business advice you’ve received: Plan the work and work the plan. 

Ann Harper

Economic Development Director, City of Millbrook

On the Job

I help grow and enhance our local tax base by recruiting new businesses to our community and working on projects that facilitate and improve the quality of life for our citizens. In a smaller city like mine, I don’t necessarily have a lot of resources and staff, so I wear several hats. It’s all about leveraging resources and finding partners to accomplish our goals. The bottom line is that I’m a “connector”.  I enjoy my job because I get to meet people, and I derive satisfaction from knowing that I’m helping my city to flourish.

All About Me

I was born in Ancon, Canal Zone (Panama) but spent my early childhood in Falls Church, Virginia, near Washington D.C.  When my dad retired from the Federal Government, we moved to Millbrook. I am a Stanhope Elmore High School graduate and have a BS in Public Administration from Auburn University and a Master of Public Administration from AUM.  Prior to working for the City of Millbrook, I worked for the Alabama Wildlife Federation in fund development. I am married to Michael Harper, an attorney, and we have one daughter Aliceann who is 26 years old.

● First job: My first job in high school was working at a movie theater in northern Virginia selling tickets and working concessions.
● Favorite business book: The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey
● Favorite song: I have lots of favorite songs and they all seem to originate from the classic rock genre (the 70s and 80s).
● Best business advice you’ve received: “Do what you say you’ll do.”

Kevin King

Founder/Executive Director, The King’s Canvas

On the Job

We are a creative placemaking organization that provides opportunity and access to marginalized artists. I enjoy what I do because we are one of several community-building arts and culture entities that refused to depend on institutions to accept us but instead created our own infrastructure that facilitates more equitable practices in the art community. 

All About Me

I am a native of Mobile, Alabama. I moved with my wife Nicole and my daughter Kaiya to the Washington Park neighborhood in 2008 to work with Common Ground Montgomery. I have served as Associate Director for Common Ground Montgomery ever since. After receiving art supplies from my family, I re-engaged with the arts after 16 years and was moved to open the King’s Canvas to fill the gap and provide creative opportunities in West Montgomery. I’ve been involved in nonprofit grassroots and advocacy efforts for years and have a genuine connection and love for the community. 

  • First Job: Southern Lithographing in Mobile Alabama  
  • Favorite Business Book:The World’s Best Known Marketing Secret by Ivan Misner, Ph.D., and Mike Macedonio 
  • Favorite song: Triumph by Wu-Tang Clan 
  • Best business advice you’ve received: Boyd Stephens encouraged me to “Fall in love with the problem, not the solution”  

Ronda A. Cherry

Customer Service Manger,
Alabama Power

On the Job

I get to lead, motivate, and develop a diverse team of outstanding customer service professionals. In addition to leading the Montgomery Business Office Customer Service team, I also partner with APC and Customer Operations leaders to champion and ensure a diverse, equitable, and inclusive workplace culture as managing sponsor of the Customer Operations Culture Committee.

All About Me

Originally from Middletown, Rhode Island in New England, I am an avid New England Patriots fan. In addition to watching football, I enjoy reading, networking, photography, cooking, traveling, and spending time with family. Community involvement is extremely important to me. I am a proud member of the Alabama Power Service Organization. I serve on the Boards of Directors for River Region United Way, Girl Scouts of Southern Alabama, Second Chance Foundation and CASA. 

  • First job: At 16, my summer job was as a Teller at the Bank of Newport in Newport, Rhode Island.
  • Favorite business book: Cues by Vanessa Van Edwards
  • Favorite song: It is Well with My Soul (hymn)
  • Best business advice you’ve received: Trust is better than perfection. Create an environment where people are safe to take risks, make mistakes, be creative and challenge the norm. Be authentic, supportive, and trustworthy.

Tiffany Robinson

City Clerk/Treasurer for the City of Wetumpka

On the Job

The City Clerk serves as the Chief Financial Officer for the City. I am also responsible for City Council communication through regular council meetings, maintaining all city records, annexations, and municipal elections. I am passionate about Wetumpka, love watching it grow and being part of a great team that strives to make Wetumpka a better place to live, work and play. In Wetumpka, we strive to work with each entity whether it’s the Chamber of Commerce or Wetumpka Main Street to produce quality of life experiences for our community. One of our tag lines is; “together we can”! If the River Region works together, everyone benefits.

All About Me

I am married to Tucker Robinson and we have two boys, Pierce and Sawyer. Tucker and I met while attending Troy State University. I graduated in 1998 with a major in Journalism and a minor in Public Relations. After graduation and marriage, we planted our roots in Wetumpka, where Tucker is from.

  • First job: My first job out of college was working for B.A.S.S. Inc. in the advertising department.
  • Favorite business book: Companies We Keep by John Abrams
  • Favorite song: Get the Party Started by Pink
  • Best business advice you’ve received: Don’t sweat the small stuff and pick your battles.

Pam Mashburn

Publisher and President

On the Job

I love collaborating with community leaders, our team, and the editorial advisory board to generate articles and solutions that connect people and promote the amazing businesses in Central Alabama.

All About Me

I graduated from Georgia Tech with an Industrial & Systems Engineering
degree and later received my Masters of Industrial Engineering from Purdue University. Dave and I have been married for over 30 years and enjoy hanging out with friends and family at Lake Martin with our dog, Lucy. We have 3 sons– Spencer is a software engineer in Atlanta, Mitchell is a Computer Science major at Troy, and our youngest, Trevor, is studying finance at Auburn.

  • First Job: Cashier at a grocery store (before scanners!). I loved memorizing the prices and having my regulars come through my line.
  • Favorite Locally-Owned Small Business: Peppertree Steaks & Wine
  • Favorite Locally-Owned Restaurant: TASTE
  • After Hours: I enjoy going to the lake and playing pickleball.

Amber Estes

Accounting and Business Administrator

On the Job

I manage the accounts and the distribution of our magazines.

All About Me

After graduating high school, I got a job at Napa Auto Parts and eventually found my way into accounting. I married my husband, Corey, who works in the Air Force. Together, we have a four-year-old daughter named Alaina and a one-year-old son named Ridley. Plus our sweet dog, Loki!

  • First Job: Skateway USA
  • Favorite Locally-Owned Restaurant: Uncle Mick’s
  • Favorite Locally-Owned Business: Bryan Jewelry
  • After Hours: I love spending time with my husband, kids, and dog.

Shelby Shubird

Digital Media Manager

On the Job

I do all things digital– strategizing with the CentrAL Inc! team on digital
advertising, social media, eNewsletters, and more!

All About Me

I started at exploreMedia as a graphic designer in 2016 after attending Auburn University at Montgomery. As the digital products grew for exploreMedia, I was lucky enough to be able to grow with this exciting part of the company and become Digital Media Manager in 2020. My husband, Ryan, and I got married in 2017 at our favorite place, Lake Martin. We have a golden retriever named Harper.

  • First Job: Merle Norman in Eastdale Mall
  • Favorite Locally-Owned Small Business: Vivian Drew
  • Favorite Locally-Owned Restaurant: Vintage Year
  • After Hours: I enjoy trying different foods, whether we cook something new at home or have a nice dinner out. You can also catch me playing with my dog or out on the water somewhere!

Abby Wilson

Digital Media Specialist

On the Job

I work on social media accounts. I enjoy how the social media landscape is
constantly changing. 

All About Me

I graduated from The University of Alabama at Birmingham in August 2021 with a Bachelors of Science in Marketing with a concentration on Digital Marketing. I was born and raised in a small town about 50 minutes from Montgomery. I am the youngest of three children, and while I don’t have any children myself, I do have a miniature poodle, Mac, that I treat like my child. I love to travel anytime I get the chance. One of my goals is to see all 50 states!

Jessica Barganier

Graphic Designer

On the Job

I love what I do for CentrAL INC! because I enjoy getting to work with local businesses to express their brand’s voice and connect with their business community through eye-catching, effective design.

All About Me

I attended The University of Alabama, where I majored in digital media and minored in advertising. I live with my parents and my younger brother. We have a dog, Molly, and four cats– Arya, Winston, Scarlett, and Baxter. I’ve been with my boyfriend, Drew, for nearly 5 years.

  • First Job: Delivery driver for Panera Bread
  • Favorite Locally-Owned Small Business: Eastbrook Flea Market
  • Favorite Locally-Owned Restaurant: SOL Restaurante
  • After Hours: I like rewatching my comfort TV shows (like Bob’s Burgers, The Office, and That 70’s Show) and spending time with my boyfriend.

Erika Rowe Tracy

Art Director

On the Job

Page design has always been my favorite creative project, and working behind the camera for many years gave me a passion for starting with great images. Now, creating images that build a strong base for design is my favorite form of creative collaboration.

All About Me

I’m a proud Montgomerian. From high school at BTW Magnet to college at AUM, the friends and family I’ve grown to know here are a huge bonus to my daily life.

  • First Job: Working the register at Luigi’s Pizza
  • Favorite Locally-Owned Small Business: Cloverdale everything — ExVoto, Welle Studio, Vintage Cafe, Stonehenge, and more. It’s my pleasure to support these businesses!
  • Favorite Locally-Owned Restaurant: El Rey is never a bad idea.
  • After Hours: Getting outside brings me lots of joy and inspiration. Solvitur
    ambulando—it is solved by walking.

Heather Ruddock

Creative Director

On the Job

I am responsible for the overall creative design and layout for CentrAL
INC!, and I’m also responsible for keeping the branding style consistent throughout all print and digital materials.

All About Me

I received my Bachelor of Fine Arts in Graphic Design from Auburn University at Montgomery. My husband, Chris, and I live in Wetumpka. We have a dog named Cinder that I adopted from the shelter.

  • First Job: Associate at Books-a-Million
  • Favorite Locally-Owned Small Business: Vivian O’Nay
  • Favorite Locally-Owned Restaurant: Wharf Seafood
  • After Hours: I love to spend time with my family and friends. I’m a laid back person, so I like to swim, watch television, and occasionally play video games. I also like to get out and try new things when I get the chance.

Savanna Pruitt

Content Specialist

On the Job

I write content for both the physical and digital aspects of CentrAL INC!
This covers everything from the magazine itself to the website to social media posts. I love getting to learn more about what’s happening in the business community and connecting local business owners to helpful resources.

All About Me

I graduated from LAMP High School. I majored in communications and
graduated from Auburn University at Montgomery in May 2022. I’m the proud mom of two of the most precious shelter dogs you’ll ever meet– Max and Chase.

  • First Job: Cafe Associate at Panera Bread
  • Favorite Locally-Owned Small Business: Any antique or vintage shop– Prattville Pickers, Eastbrook Flea Market, and J & G Flea Market are a few of my favorites.
  • Favorite Locally-Owned Restaurant: It’s not technically a restaurant… but Prevail has the best coffee and treats around!
  • After Hours: I love playing board games, re-watching my favorite shows and movies over and over, and spending hours fully invested in whichever hobby I happen to be into at the moment before deciding I’m bored with it and moving onto the next hobby.

Kinsey de Torres

Managing Editor

On the Job

I work with the sales and editorial teams to collect and create content for the CentrAL INC! magazine and newsletter. I love collaborating with our team to produce the best possible content for our readers!

All About Me

I majored in English at Faulkner University, where I met my sweet husband. We got married four years later in the midst of the pandemic. We have a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel named Miles. We love to travel any and everywhere and hang out with friends.

  • First Job: Nanny
  • Favorite Locally-Owned Small Business: Sweet Home Books
  • Favorite Locally-Owned Restaurant: Cork & Cleaver
  • After Hours: Depending on the day, I’d probably say going out to eat with friends or curling up on the couch with my dog and a good book.

Jennifer S. Kornegay


On the Job

I work with the rest of the CentrAL INC! team to plan and create the articles
and content for each issue. I love learning about and sharing the stories of the multiple driven people in Central Alabama who are doing innovative and interesting things that strengthen our community.

All About Me

I’ve lived all over the South but have been in Montgomery for 24 years. I
graduated from The University of Alabama (Roll Tide!). My CentrAL INC! hat isn’t the only one I wear; I’m a freelance writer and editor, and my writing has been published in national and regional publications including Southern Living, Garden & Gun, and Conde Nast Traveler.

  • Favorite Locally-Owned Small Business: I shop a lot (too much?) at Welle Studio for clothing and accessories. I also love Vinson Market for fun gifts and plants.
  • Favorite Locally-Owned Restaurant: Vintage Year (for fancy dinner) and Chris’ Hot Dogs (for not-so-fancy outings)
  • After Hours: I enjoy hiking, reading, and spending time with family.

Angie Jordin

Media Advisor

On the Job

I enjoy strategizing with clients on their marketing plans.

All About Me

I attended college at Troy University at Montgomery with thoughts of being a
nurse. I joined the Air National Guard to pay for the last year of school, met my husband, married, had babies, raised babies, built an awesome and rewarding career, and never looked back!

  • First Job: A florist and tuxedo rental shop. I worked at the cash register… they didn’t let me design the arrangements. They were pretty smart!
  • After Hours: We love to support our communities by eating out, shopping, and attending community events and attractions. On any given weekend, you’ll find me out and about discovering new places to visit with my camera in hand taking selfies!

Christina Bennett

Senior Media Advisor

On the Job

I manage the overall strategy for our advertising partners. I enjoy finding
ways to highlight the amazing businessmen and women in Central Alabama.

All About Me

I studied Business Administration at Auburn University. War Eagle! I am
happily married to my high school sweetheart. Together, we have the two sweetest baby girls and a cat named Butters. When we get some free time, we love going to the beach!

  • First Job: Sales clerk/ shelf stocker at GiGi’s New York Kitchen Company
  • Favorite Locally-Owned Small Business: Vivian O’Nay
  • Favorite Locally-Owned Restaurant: There are too many to name, but I love Ravello, LaJolla, Bubbly Hen, and Tipping Point.
  • After Hours: I enjoy going to the spa when I get a chance.

Brandon Householder

Website Specialist

On the Job

I built the CentrAL INC! website. I also do technical SEO and web automation.

All About Me

I attended Auburn University at Montgomery, where I received my Bachelor of Finance degree. My wife, Corbin, and I got married in April of 2022 and have a mini goldendoodle.

  • First Job: Lifeguard
  • Favorite Locally-Owned Small Business: My Adventure Challenge
  • Favorite Locally-Owned Restaurant: Joe Mama’s
  • After Hours: I enjoy reading, traveling, and spending time with my family.