A 4 letter word: Why young professionals leave Birmingham

Dave Pelliccio
Dave Pelliccio

ComebackTown is published by David Sher to begin a discussion on a better Birmingham.

Today’s guest blogger is Dave Pelliccio.  If you’d like to be a guest blogger, please click here.

I would like to begin with the use of a four letter word.  However, I am pretty confident that you will not be offended and my mother will not wash out my mouth with soap.  The word is….JOBS.  When David Sher wrote the post “This Number will Scare the Bejeebies out of You,” I read it knowing that I had to respond in some way.  I felt as if I identified with it and more importantly, can provide a real experience to support David’s facts.

I moved from Birmingham to Charlotte a year ago in order to accept a position in Corporate Treasury for a financial services company.  While I enjoy living here – Charlotte is a beautiful city with a lot to offer – one thing is clear.  I miss Birmingham.  In moments of nostalgia, I long for the food (local cuisine here just does not measure up – especially the barbecue), miss my good friends and family, and, perhaps most importantly, recall the sense of community that I felt living in Birmingham.  It is truly home.

So, why don’t I just move back, you ask?  Well, it would be easy to reach that conclusion.  However, there is one thing that prevents me from doing that – and that is the scarcity of employment opportunities for young professionals.  As a financial analyst, job vacancies in Birmingham that are in my field are limited.  And the ones that are available unfortunately do not pay a salary that is suitable for people my age to make headway toward long range goals – paying off debt, fortifying their savings, getting married, purchasing a home, and starting a family.

Even though my address is in North Carolina these days, I continue to read the Comeback Town quite regularly.  David Sher and others eloquently opine on issues that Birmingham must overcome in order to reach its potential – education, race relations, and self-image to name a few.  However, it is my belief that employment (or lack thereof) does not get the attention that it deserves.  Due to the shortage of jobs, a cycle is created that impacts our local economy.  What cycle, you ask? Allow me to illustrate for you.

It is my experience that Birmingham is a great place to grow up and for parents to raise their children.  After some time, these children go off to college at Alabama, Auburn, UAB, Birmingham Southern, and other schools that are fairly close to home.  However, after graduation, many will flock to Atlanta, Nashville, and Charlotte among other destinations in search of employment.  They stay for a few years, gain some job experience and earn higher wages, and eventually move back to Birmingham to raise a family of their own.

This doesn’t have to happen.  It is wonderful that we talk about the development of the North Side, the Barons moving back downtown, the proliferation of breweries, and the endless options for world class meals.  However, it is difficult for people in their mid to late 20’s to take advantage of these without sufficient discretionary income.  And that is not possible without more jobs coming to Birmingham.  Healthier employment may entice recent graduates to consider staying in the Magic City after they don the cap and gown.  With the work that David and others are doing, as well as the ideas brought to this forum, we can close this gap once and for all.

Dave Pelliccio is a Corporate Treasury Analyst for a financial services company and currently resides in Charlotte, NC.  A Birmingham native, University of Alabama graduate, and avid Crimson Tide fan, he is doing his best to assimilate in to a culture that is more concerned with ACC basketball.

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David Sher is the publisher of ComebackTown, a co-founder of Buzz12 Advertising Agency 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).

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3 thoughts on “A 4 letter word: Why young professionals leave Birmingham”

  1. *I’ll keep raising the issue of poor funding for  MAX transit service 

    until elected officials and business and community leaders who live in

    the suburbs in and around Jefferson County unite to speak out and work

    for increased permanent funding  for MAX transit service. These are

    some of the facts that one’s “compassion radar” needs to come in touch

    with by moving out of one’s  comfort zone:

    LIMITED TRANSIT SERVICE – Jefferson County now includes 35

    municipalities and a large unincorporated area. Varying degrees of

    transit service – most of it minimal – are provided in only 10 of those

    35 municipalities and a portion of the unincorporated section. There

    hasn’t been ANY transit service on Sundays for 30-40 years. Transit

    service is quite limited on Saturdays and in late evenings. The current

    Director of the MAX system, Mrs. Ann August, is a veteran transit

    manager who, with her Board, chaired by Mrs. Joyce Brooks is hard

    at work to bring modern-day transit to Jefferson County and beyond

    when the funding to accomplish that is achieved with a united effort

    on the part of all players who are needed to make it happen.

    BENEFITS OF 24/7 TRANSIT SERVICE – Less air pollution from

    vehicles emissions and less congestion on roads and highways.

    These will create significant health benefits for citizens like

    healthier air to breathe and reduced stress levels for drivers.

  2. *perhaps it’s a good thing to leave Birmingham for a while and gain experiences elsewhere. If not as a college student then as a young professional.  Then “comeback” and bring new thoughts with you.

  3. One of my “hobbies” is to facilitate/moderate the Business Leaders Roundtable, which is an open networking group here in Birmingham, for and about strengthening the metro area so that we can make an impact on the world. We meet monthly for a casual lunch, lecture, and roundtble discussion (3rd Tuesday at UAB). At yesterday’s luncheon, a young businesswoman reiterated Dave’s thought and said she was leaving Birmingham and moving to Florida to pursue growing her legal services business. She said their wasn’t enough in Birmingham for a young, single, business owner, so she was leaving. How sad. She is a fine young lady who is taking her business, her employees, and her energy to Flordia. We lose.

    But it made me think about Birmingham. I have a 24 year old daughter who is starting her career in a start-up non-profit here in Birmingham – what a great city to start a non-profit! She has a large group of young singles – maybe 60 -75 people – who hang out together, go to Barons games, go to concerts in the park, go to the fireworks, watch movies, organize group trips to the beach and to the lake, etc.. They are always doing something together… but it take some effort to coordinate and it takes a committment to participate. But it works! She loves it!

    There actually is a lot for young people to do in Birmingham… if you are willing to be part of the solution and put in some effort. We might not have the Las Vegas style nightlife that some young people are looking for (…yuck), but there is plenty of opportunity… Birmingham is rich with opportunity for those who are willing to help create it!

    I recognize that good paying, challenging, professional jobs are hard to come by. But we have a tremendous opportuity – and I believe an obligation – to all pitch in and help make Birmingham a better place, to live, work, and raise a family. Togeher, we can make a difference and bring those jobs to the area!

    Shameles plug: you can find our Business Leaders Roundtable group on LinkedIn. Its free to join and the meetings are free. We have several “Forum Groups” (smaller roundtable groups) and one is specificaly for yong professionals. I invite you to come help us make Birmingham great!*

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