Sunday, June 9th, I was watching TV when suddenly my cell phone lit up with e-mails from people everywhere.
They couldn’t wait to tell me about the positive story about Birmingham in The New York Times, The Washington Post, The San Francisco Chronicle, Associated Press, Yahoo News, etc. Pretty darn exciting when media everywhere are screaming, “(Birmingham) has a new vibe that’s generating buzz.”
Every major newspaper in the U.S.must have posted the AP piece, “Once dying Birmingham is suddenly hot.”
I certainly loved the article, but was somewhat stunned by the pictures that accompanied the story in each of the papers.
I honestly can’t remember seeing a picture of Birmingham in the National Press in the past 50 years that didn’t include pictures of dogs and fire hoses. These articles featured flattering pictures of Railroad Park or Regions Field. How refreshing!
Of course, the big question is how did we get from “dying” to “hot?”
Some folks might not want to give Larry Langford credit, but many of the projects described in the AP piece originated with his administration.
Our Chamber of Commerce (now BBA) took seven trips to cities around the U.S. to see what was working in other communities. In 2005 the Chamber went to Nashville. Several of the Nashville corporate and community leaders embarrassed us and tried to make us feel foolish for living in Birmingham. Langford was on the trip and he wasted no time standing up for Birmingham and our delegation. (Larry has a temper)
On the bus afterwards, he said something I will never forget, “All we need in Birmingham is an attitude adjustment.” He told us he was committed to tackling big projects to prove we could succeed.
His comments probably aren’t surprising. After all, when Langford ran for Mayor he beat eight candidates on the first ballot with the slogan, “Let’s do something.” And say what you want about Mayor Langford, he did something.
I’ve heard people comment that Mayor Bell is reaping the benefits of Langford’s projects, which is both true and not true. It’s true that many of our successful projects were initiated during the Langford administration, but when Mayor Bell took office, he inherited a huge deficit.
Mayor Bell and his City Council not only worked through the deficit, but kept the original projects and new ones on track. It’s probably safe to say that if we hadn’t had a change of administrations, the outcome might have been different.
And the good news continues. This week Birmingham was chosen by the National Civic League as an All American City.
Birmingham/Jefferson County has had some bad breaks. But this time we got lucky–Larry Langford’s big ideas and Mayor Bell’s stewardship.
Let’s turn Birmingham around. Click here to sign up for our newsletter. There’s power in numbers. (Opt out at any time)
David Sher is the publisher of ComebackTown, a co-founder of Buzz12 Advertising and co-CEO of AmSher Collection Agency. He’s past Chairman of the Birmingham Regional Chamber of Commerce (BBA), Operation New Birmingham (REV Birmingham)), and the City Action Partnership (CAP).