Nashville whipping Birmingham’s butt

I’m jealous.

I recently read a piece in the Nashville Business Journal that made me ill.

The nausea was amplified by the memories of a humiliating Birmingham Regional Chamber of Commerce (BBA) trip I took with about one hundred corporate, community, and political leaders to Nashville ten years ago.

None of us were prepared for the way we were mistreated.  One Nashville speaker called us racists; another attacked our healthcare industry; and third referred to Birmingham as ‘Bombingham.’  (Nashville spits on Birmingham)

So why did The Nashville Business Journal piece put such a knot in my stomach? A panelist at a meeting of NAIOP, a real estate industry trade group with a fast-growing Nashville chapter, was quoted as saying…

“Two years ago, he was lucky to get one formal request-for-information every few weeks. This week, I’ve had five. We’re literally at a point where the pipeline is overcrowded.  I’ve had two situations in the last three months where groups showed interest in a building, and by the time their pursuit got serious, the building was now no longer available.”

He went on to describe other Nashville industrial development successes:

  • Under Armour $100 million distribution hub that will likely employee 1,500 people
  • Starbucks
  • Amazon
  • Saks Fifth Avenue

Compare Nashville’s victories to the parade of Birmingham companies being acquired by out of State interests:  Sterne Agee, Alabama Gas, Protective Life, Colonial Properties Trust…and on and on.

According to the Birmingham Business Journal (BBJ), Nashville has added 22,000 jobs since 2013–We added 2,800.

When I was a child, Nashville was smaller than Birmingham.  Today Nashville is 45% larger and the gap is widening.

We in Birmingham have some great new projects—particularly downtown—but we are losing our jobs—and our young people.

When I speak to groups I always ask the question—How many of you parents have lost your children or grandchildren to other cities?  A large majority raise their hands.

Nashville has a unified county/city government.  Nashville speaks with one voice and has a common vision.

I bet you can’t name half of the 35+ municipalities in Jefferson County—all working independently and often at cross purposes with one another.

Ten years ago Nashville leaders told representatives of the Birmingham Chamber of Commerce that Nashville was beating our butts. They still are.

Howard Beale in the movie, Network, yells out his window, “I’m mad as hell and I’m not going to take it anymore.”  Maybe we should do the same.

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, a division of Intermark Group, and co-CEO of AmSher Compassionate Collections.  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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4 thoughts on “Nashville whipping Birmingham’s butt”

  1. Aside from a successful united government, there are a few other reasons Nashville kicks Birmingham’s butt:

    1. Grand Ole Opry; Bluegrass; country music; song writing, production, and promotion

    2. They have a river front and an travel destination entertainment center to go along with it.

    3. The Frist family, HCA, and numerous medical/financial family spin-offs.

    4. More
    than 250 health care companies have operations in Nashville and work on
    a multistate, national or international basis. Nashville is also home
    to more than 300 professional service firms (e.g., accounting,
    architecture, finance, legal) that provide expertise in the health care
    industry. It has been said that over half the for-profit healthcare and hospital business in the U.S. is managed out of Nashville.

    5. It has a professional NFL and hockey team, as well as a minor league baseball team.

    6. Gaylord Opryland resort & Convention Center

    7. It is travel and tourist destination city.

    No rocket science here . . . ask yourself why Birmingham is not only not keeping up, it has lost much of the home-grown industrial, engineering, banking, retail, and healthcare might it built from 1980-2000.

  2. *I am a 37 year Nashville resident.  This article and comment are absolutely inappropriate and for the most part inaccurate.  The source of information in the article is obviously a bad attitude that needs to change or else leave.

    As for Mr.VanHooten’s comments: consider the following.  1.Grand Ole Opry is certainly a plus for Nashville.  2.Riverfront is also a plus to Nashville.  Birmingham also has ever growing entertainment districts.  When I am in B’ham, I can see them.  When I read Birmingham Magazine, I read of them and many more.  Open your eyes and you will see them. 3. & 4. Birmingham is a center for medical research and care albeit not Frist related.  Here again open your eyes. 5.6.&7. True.   No rocket science here.  The writer of this article and the commenter have bad attitudes that need to be changed or they need to leave Birmingham and chase after their utopia.  If they do not live in Birmingham, then they have NO right to bash it.

  3. It seems to me that if the racists in City Hall would get out of the way, Birmingham could do much better.  It isn’t the form of government that put’s Nashville ahead.  It is the people in government that hold us back.

  4. *Nashville v. Birmingham – from someone who’s never lived in
    Nashville but nearly 30 years in Birmingham.

    WATER (huge economic, quality-of-life & environmental
    issue): N’s Cumberland River & Priest Lake v. B’s Cahaba River & Lake

    STATE GOVERNMENT: N seat of state government v. B beholden
    to antiquated state constitution & dysfunctional legislature.

    TRANSPORTATION (not even including public transportation):
    N’s early completion of interstate system v. B’s belated completion (see STATE
    GOVERNMENT for explanation).

    NEWS MEDIA: N’s Daily Tennessean paper v. B’s whatever that is that passes for a newspaper

    HIGHER EDUCATION: N’s top 20 academic, independent university and med center, which controls its own destiny v. B’s very good public university and med center controlled by
    a board of trustees primarily interested in flagship university 50 miles away.

    HISTORY: N’s Civil War battlefield (largely forgotten) v. B’s
    Civil Rights battlefield (still in many residents’ memory), characterized by white
    resistance to both desegregation and racial reconciliation – decades after its
    acceptance in most other American cities – as well as massive flight to

    OBSESSIONS: N’s focus on own city’s well-being and progress v.
    B’s continual obsessions with image & self-image. In B’s case it’s the nattering
    naybobs of negativity (often laced with racism) always at war with the Chamber of
    Commerce Pollyannas.

    LASTLY: N’s “We don’t compare ourselves to other
    places” attitude v. B’s “Here’s another effort at comparing ourselves to (insert Southern city)”

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