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
- 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.
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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).