I had the opportunity to talk with a new corporate CEO who moved to Birmingham from Nashville a few years back.
I asked, “So what do you think of Birmingham?” Then I looked down at my shoes waiting to hear how much Nashville had outpaced Birmingham.
I was pleasantly surprised when he praised us. He said, “It’s true Nashville has the Grand Ole Opry and the Tennessee Titans, but Birmingham has the Museum of Art, the Alys Stephens Center, the Alabama Ballet, the Alabama Symphony, Opera Birmingham, the McWane Center, and Birmingham Children’s Theater.
If Birmingham is lacking in so many ways, how do you explain our great amenities?
The answer actually is obvious. Because of our non-functional government, our corporate leaders have given up on getting anything done politically, so they’ve put their time, money, and efforts into our charities and amenities.
Birmingham is one of few cities in American to make its United Way goal every year since World War II and Birmingham is always in the top tier of per capita giving. We can gladly thank our corporate leadership.
And recently our business leaders have made a renewed effort to be involved politically.
I watched as they fought to help Jefferson County find alternate sources of revenue to replace its occupational tax. But they continue to strike out.
I watched as our corporate leaders did their best to help our county avoid bankruptcy. But they failed because they couldn’t get our politicians together.
I’m thrilled our corporate leadership achieved its funding goal for the Birmingham Business Alliace (BBA) and I’m encouraged they’ve gotten involved personally in running the BBA.
But unless we do something about our fractured government, I’m afraid they will soon become frustrated and put their efforts elsewhere.
David Sher’s goal is to create a conversation on how to fix our fragmented and dysfunctional local government.
David Sher is a partner in Buzz12 Content Marketing and co-CEO of AmSher Receivables Management. He’s past Chairman of the Birmingham Regional Chamber of Commerce (BBA), Operation New Birmingham (ONB), and the City Action Partnership (CAP).