We’re losing our children

I was eating lunch at Rotary and I couldn’t believe the table conversation.

A Rotarian who is also a business owner said, “I am so disappointed in Birmingham.  I hope when my children graduate college they’ll move to another city where they have greater opportunities.”

Another responded, “I feel the same way. In fact, if I could move my business, I would move tomorrow.”

The tone of the conversation was morbid.

Well, I have to admit.  I’m completely selfish.  I have two children and three grandchildren.  My daughter recently moved back to Birmingham.  My son, daughter-in-law, and grandson live in Atlanta.  Quite frankly, I wish every one of my children and grandchildren lived nearby—opportunity or not.

Am I a bad parent?

Actually, I would like to have the best of both worlds.  I would like for my children to live here, but for them to find equal or better business or career opportunities that they might find elsewhere.

The fact is we are losing the brightest and best of our next generation to other cities.

According to a recent article in USA Today , of the 51 largest U.S. metro areas, only Birmingham and New Orleans have had a population loss from 2000 to 2009 in 25-to 34 year olds who have a four-year degree or higher and live within three miles of a metro area’s central business district. (Source: American Community Survey by Impresa Inc. for CEO’s for Cities).  View report.

Do you want to play with your grandchildren?  Do want to spend the final years of your life alone with your family living thousands of miles away?

Let’s do something significant to move Birmingham ahead to create opportunities for our children.

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).

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13 thoughts on “We’re losing our children”

  1. This conversation is fascinating, but demands in depth analysis, planning, implementing, implementing,implementing. I am choosing to focus my energy on one area: building an institution whereby urban youth are motivated to go through not to college. They will finish, because of the foundation they are receiving

  2. We have work to do!! NO MORE —“Name Brand Politics”!!! I have watched my children and grandchildren leave this city and it is sad!! People feelings might get hurt but we must get thoes that think outside the box to correct tthis issue……it starts with US!!!!!!

      1. One our biggest problems is youth unemployment, the Business
        community working with City Government must find ways to
        find summer jobs for them. This would get them off the streets
        and create proud in them selves.

  3. Ok, I’ve had a couple of glasses of wine, so I’ll rise to the occasion. We’ve got too many Rotarian types in this city
    who think they are doing something worthwhile by showing up once a week for 272 Rotary meetings in a row to listen to
    some random speech — instead of actually doing something for the city. Yeah, I know about their summer camp for
    tornado victims but where are the bold voices when it comes to issues that could literally transform our city – such as the
    Charter School bill that got torpedoed this year that could’ve actually brought the black and white middle class back
    to the city (but no one wanted to fight for because of possible backlash from the teacher’s union), where were the
    strong voices when Richard Shelby offered to give us a billion dollars to build a regional mass transit system but allowed
    it to die because of the lack of the 20% local match? We’re still waiting for our Hugh McColl, our Billy Payne to step
    forward and take costly, controversial stands and actually spend political capital to move the city boldly forward.

    1. Tom, I hear you and I understand since I’m one of those Rotarian types.

      However, I will contend that it is our segmented dysfunctional government that makes it too much of a hassle for corporate leadership to get involved. Look how hard the BBA has worked to help find funding for Jefferson County–to no avail. Why can’t Jefferson County be allowed to manage its own affairs? Why do we have to deal with Montgomery?

      This was the point of the blog, “Does Birmingham have poor corporate leadership?” http://www.comebacktown.com/2012/03/14/where-are-birminghams-corporate-leaders/

      Now get back to your wine. Please continue to comment and encourage others to join the conversation.

  4. David,
     This is a fabulous blog and I am so excited that I have received it. 
    I know that we are losing some of our children; however, some are coming back and others want to come back.
    As you know one of my programs through The Birmingham Jewish Federation is called You Belong In Birmingham.
    One of the biggest challenges I have when these adults want to move back to Birmingham is job opportunities.
    I am constantly told that they do not have enough experience. These companies need to give these people a chance.
    I will say that when someone comes to Birmingham to look it over because they  have a job opportunity they are blown away by the beauty of Birmingham and the Southern hospitality!
    BJF was lucky to be written up in The Huffington Post. It was GREAT publicity for our city.

    1. Caren, I love what you and You Belong to Birmingham are doing to recruit young people back to Birmingham.  With better government, we will be able to create more job opportunities.  What a home run to be written up in The Huffington Post.

  5. *I’m one of the young people (22) and I absolutely love Birmingham. Believe me when I say I’m working everyday just through casual conversation to change my peer’s minds about Bham. I’ve won quite a few converts and hopefully more are on the way!

  6. Andrew, good for you.  You and your peers are the future of Birmingham and our region.  Please consider subscribing to our newsletter and asking your peers to do also.  We can make a difference.  www.comebacktown.com

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