Is Birmingham destined to become a suburb of Atlanta?

Folks in Birmingham squabble a lot, but there’s one thing we agree on —none of us want Birmingham to become another Atlanta.

Because the growth of metropolitan Birmingham has been so slow, I haven’t spent much time worrying about Birmingham getting too big.  In fact, I’ve been much more concerned about Birmingham staying the size of Birmingham.

Then I read that researchers from North Carolina State project that the South’s explosive growth rate for the past 60 years will continue and metropolitan Birmingham could be part of an “urban megalopolis” by 2060. Yes, it’s possible that Birmingham could be swallowed up  by the urban influence of Atlanta. According to the study

“The Southeast has experienced explosive growth over the past 60 years, with a rate of population increase nearly 40% larger than the rest of the United States… Over 77 million people now live in this region and simulations point to a future in which the extent of urbanization in the Southeast is projected to increase by 101% to 192%.”

These growth numbers are totally at odds with metropolitan Birmingham.  As I wrote in, “These numbers will scare the Bejeebies out of you,” our metropolitan job growth since 2001 has been negative.  And between 2013 and 2014 we are the only one of the hundred largest metropolitan cities in America where the jobless rate actually increased. When you read that eight of the ten fastest growing metropolitan cities in the U.S. are in the South, you have to consider we might be doing something wrong.

As I mention regularly, the one distinguishing difference between Birmingham and many of our peer cities is that we don’t have a unified county/city government.  Instead of planning our future together we are divided into silos fighting amongst ourselves.

Albert Einstein defined insanity as doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.

It may be a ridiculous assumption that we will become a part of Atlanta, but we in Birmingham can either choose to be dominated by whatever happens to us or we can try to take control of our future.

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 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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