Grinney and Krulak agree on how to fix Birmingham

Jay Grinney, President & CEO HealthSouth Corporation
Jay Grinney, President & CEO HealthSouth Corporation

Metropolitan Birmingham is the only one of our peer cities to lose jobs from 2001-2010 and from 2011-2013 (U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics)

Many folks feel the reason for our poor job performance is too many competing  governments.

Why don’t we do something about it?

Because most people feel some sort of government consolidation is impossible.

However, two of Birmingham’s most respected leaders agree that change is critical to our future.  Both Jay Grinney and General Charles Krulak have tackled and accomplished tasks that others thought were hopeless.

Jay Grinney rode into Birmingham on a white horse in 2004 to save HealthSouth.

HealthSouth was on the verge of bankruptcy when Mr. Grinney became President and CEO.  HealthSouth stock was selling for pennies and very few analysts thought the company would survive.  Today HealthSouth is solid—making acquisitions—and its stock is selling for over $40 a share.

Mr. Grinney spoke to the Rotary Club of Birmingham recently.  After he made his prepared remarks, I asked him…

“It’s truly amazing what you and your team have accomplished at HealthSouth, but over the past fifteen years, Birmingham has lost about half its public companies while Nashville has become a hotbed for the healthcare industry.  We very much appreciate you and HealthSouth sticking with Birmingham.  If you could wave a magic wand–what would you do to make Birmingham competitive with our peer cities?”

Here’s Mr. Grinney’s response…

“I’m a very big believer that we would be much better positioned as a community if we could unify our very diverse government base.  It makes no sense to me.  I think there’s a lot of very strong arguments that would support and demonstrate that other communities have taken the bold step of bringing disparate local governments together are creating a much stronger economic platform for economic growth.  That would be the wand that I would wave.”

General Charles Krulak
General Charles Krulak, Past President Birmingham Southern College

General Krulak agrees

General Charles Krulak, the 31st Commandant of the Marine Corp, marched into Birmingham in 2011, guns a blazing, to save Birmingham Southern College (BSC) from a financial meltdown. Today, as General Krulak retires his presidency of Birmingham Southern, BSC is vigorous, strong, and financially secure.

Recently General Krulak was asked by the Birmingham Business Journal what it would take to make Birmingham better. Here’s what he said…

“You can’t grow Birmingham  like you want when you have a city and surrounding area that is so fragmented.  The idea that you have 17 or 18 police departments, fire departments, you name it, it’s not the way a city like this should exist.”

Both Grinney and Krulak understand that too many competing governments make us weak and vulnerable.

Both men have proven that sometimes you have to attack difficult tasks that others feel are impossible.

Birmingham’s making a remarkable comeback.  We’re beginning to feel good about ourselves.

Birmingham’s been called the city of perpetual promise, but we always seem to stumble. This could be our big chance.

Changing our government structure may be difficult—but strong leadership and a motivated community could make it happen.

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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2 thoughts on “Grinney and Krulak agree on how to fix Birmingham”

  1. Birmingham is more akin to Detroit than Charlotte.  Why would Homewood, Vestavia, Hoover … residents want to share a government with Birmingham, just as I would not want to share a govt with Detroit?  I have faith that my local tax money is being spent properly as Homewood has a lot of people dedicated to going to the council meetings and watching every penny.  Whereas Birmingham government is laughable.  Just because we have a fragmented regional government is not an excuse to sit back and allow Birmingham tax dollars to be frivolously spent.  Birmingham needs to demand more accountability and rotate some of these career politicians out and maybe then we can talk about regional government. 

  2. *Jim, thanks for your comments.  Please note Homewood recently agreed to give $700,000 in incentives to ServisFirst for remaining in Homewood. This might be the appropriate thing to do, but that’s a lot of tax payer money from one very small community.

    Please note if we had a consolidated government–Existing Birmingham politicians wouldn’t be taking over the region. We would have elected officials who would be more representative.

    And there are many types of consolidation.  Charlotte did a functional consolidation where the City is responsbile for some functions and the County does others–avoiding duplicate services.

    Metropolitan Birmingham is stagnant while our peer ‘consolidated’ cities are prospering.  We are losing jobs, businesses, and our children–not good if you are trying to grow a business or build your career.

    Or we can leave things like they are and accept the status quo.

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