If you were to ask my five year old Birmingham grandson what he wants to be when he grows up, he’ll tell you he wants to be a super hero.
It’s such an innocent response and kind of sad that one day he’ll find out there are no super heroes—well maybe there’s one–Fred McCallum, President of AT&T Alabama.
Fred is truly a super hero. He currently chairs four major Birmingham non-profits.
- Birmingham Business Alliance
- Campaign Chair of the United Way of Central Alabama
- Chairman of PARCA Board
- Chairman of the Business Council of Alabama ProgressivePAC Board
I’ve been told that of all Birmingham volunteer positions that the Campaign Chair of the United Way is the most difficult and time consuming.
However, Fred’s very modest about his volunteer work. When asked why he’s willing to take on so much responsibility he says, “You must say ‘yes’ when opportunity knocks because you never know if it will knock again.”
But we must ask why is opportunity knocking so many times for one man?
Not to take anything away from Fred and his good heart, the answer has to be that Birmingham contiunues to lose large corporations and corporate talent .
Fifteen years ago we had thirty public companies headquartered in metro Birmingham—now we have fourteen; we had six Fortune 500 companies—now we have one (Regions Financial). We lost Colonial Properties Trust last week and I was told most of their employees were terminated.
With the reduction of major corporations we’ve not only lost jobs, but we’ve lost corporate leaders who have the time, money, and resources to work for our community. Hence more and more burden is put on a limited number of corporate volunteers.
For those who read ComebackTown regularly, you know I blame our corporate losses and lack of progress on too many governments with too many competing interests.
I want to give a special shout out to AT&T. AT&T is not “The Phone Company” any more—there are several others. As far as I know there are no other telecommunications executives investing time or money in Birmingham anywhere close to the level of AT&T.
I hope when my grandson grows up he lives in Birmingham. But I know that if we don’t make some fundamental governmental changes, he’ll move to a more progressive city and be a super hero there.
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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).