Don’t pee on my leg and tell me it’s raining*

Local governments continue to steal businesses from one another and brag about the economic benefits.

Take this June 26th Birmingham News article about the new Target being built in Homewood.

“The city of Homewood approved more than $10 million in incentives for the project in September 2010, and it is expected to be a huge economic boost, said Mayor Scott McBrayer.

What the new Target will do is draw in shoppers from other cities, namely Mountain Brook and Vestavia Hills…”

Note that the sole intent of the incentives (as clearly stated) is for Homewood to pilfer Mt. Brook and Vestavia customers.

Or how about these two headlines from the Birmingham News on July 9th?

Distributor moving to Alabaster” and “Hibbett moves distribution to Alabaster.”

The first article says that, “Alabama Crown Distributing Co. a distributor of liquor, wine, and beer is building a $16 million facility in Alabaster that will employ 70 people.  The company is shutting down its current facility on Industrial Lane in Birmingham…”

The second, “Hibbett Sports Inc., which is moving its distribution center from Birmingham to Alabaster in a $25 million project…”

But note that…

“Alabama Crown is receiving $1.2 million in state and local tax abatements over seven years.”

“Hibbett is receiving about $2.2 million in state and local tax abatements over 10 years.”

How does this help our region?  Alabaster wins—Birmingham loses.  No gain for our region.  ($13.4 million dollars of tax money spent with no regional gain)

We continue to squander money stealing from one another.

Other regions take that same money and recruit new businesses.

That’s why we have no resources to encourage companies to bring their economic development and jobs to our region.

Is this economic development?

Please don’t pee on my leg and tell me it’s raining.

*Title of blog happily stolen from Judy Sheindlin’s book of the same name

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David Sher is a partner in Buzz12 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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5 thoughts on “Don’t pee on my leg and tell me it’s raining*”

  1. *Businesses are leaving the City of Birmingham for the same reason they leave New York City & New York State.  Taxes are too high.  A small law firm I know moved from Birmingham to Riverchase, and got free parking, saved employees county & city occupational taxes, and rent was reduced by over 50%.  The attorneys themselves saved tens of thousands in taxes to the city.  Sales taxes on food and shopping when employees go out for lunch breaks are lower and are more convenient, and the office is only a few hundred yards from I-65, so they are only minutes from the Jefferson County Courthouse when they need to go.

    1. The purpose of our blog is to begin a discussion about how to fix our redundant dysfunctional governments.

      Why is the City of Birmingham having to compete with 36 other municipalities? Nashville, Jacksonville, Louisville, etc. have county/city government. They use economic development dollars to recruit business from outside their regions…we use it to steal from one another. Birmingham has higher taxes and then spends a fortune on incentives to recruit business from our suburbs.

      Everyone wants to fix the symptoms like inequities in taxes, but the root cause is competing governments.

      I don’t know if unified government is the solution for Birmingham, but everyone needs to understand the real problem so we can generate some solutions.

      There’s no reason for Birmingham to have to compete with Hoover. We are all part of the same metro.

      Bill, thanks for your comments. Please continue to give your thoughts.

  2. Hibbits and Crown are leaving Birmingham to escape having to fund the idiocy of the past, present and future.  The corruption of the City is building onerous burdens that will have to be funded by the taxpayers.  If you don’t want to shoulder the burden of corruption, you leave.

    Sorry, but that’s the reality.  Cities surrounding Birmingham and Jefferson County have their gates wide open to welcome those fleeing.  Those who have a choice are taking it. If you want economic development, end corruption in local government.

    1. Wallace, if the businesses are on such a hurry to leave why should you have to pay them to do so?

      We should be spending our economic development dollars to recruit from out of our region.

      Corruption issues we’ve had in the past have been primarily caused by poor government structure. That is what we need to fix.

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