When our Chamber of Commerce (BBA) visited Charlotte in 2004, we were greeted by the President of the University of North Carolina Charlotte.
Charlotte’s a city on fire, but the first words out the President’s mouth were, “We don’t have anything like UAB.”
Can you believe a great city like Charlotte is jealous of us?
And for good reason, UAB has…
- 18,000 employees (largest in the State)
- 53,000 jobs at the university and in the health system
- 10% of jobs in Birmingham & 1 in 33 in State are directly/indirectly related to UAB
- Annual economic impact at $4.6 billion
- 82 square blocks*
And yet even with an economic engine like UAB, our Birmingham region is stalled.
When the Birmingham Business Alliance (BBA) prepared a strategic plan in 2010, a comparison was made with Birmingham and three peer cities: Nashville, Oklahoma City, and Louisville. Birmingham’s Jefferson County was the only county of the three with no increase in population in the last decade.
And according to The Business Journals, a sister company of the Birmingham Business Journal, Birmingham ranked 222 in income growth and 268 in growth rate of our nation’s largest 366 metros from 2000-2010.
Embarrassingly, Forbes labeled Birmingham “The Biggest Loser” (# 173) in its annual look at America’s Best Places for Business for five year period ending in 2010.
And recently, the Brookings Institution named Birmingham among the nation’s 20th poorest performing areas in 2011.
The blame lies clearly with our dysfunctional government. While other cities work with a common goal, we work against one another wasting our valuable time and resources.
Sam Addy, director and research economist at the University of Alabama’s Center for Business and Economic Research was quoted in the Birmingham News, in December of 2011, “One of the traditional shortcomings is the lack of coordinated leadership in a metro area that is extremely fragmented, with dozens of local governments and local priorities.”
We have one of the greatest economic engines in the world in UAB and yet we struggle. Until we revamp our flawed government structure we will remain powerless.
*Statistics from Wikipedia
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).