I recently wrote a piece, “Birmingham punished for being in Alabama,” where I pointed out that job growth in Birmingham and around the state has been relatively flat while other cities in the South are flourishing.
Our Birmingham-Hoover seven county metropolitan area has fewer people working now than we did at the beginning of the recession.
I regularly blame Birmingham’s lack of job growth on too many competing governments, but being located in Alabama is not a positive.
I love living in Alabama and specifically in Birmingham because my friends and neighbors are caring and generous people, but we are sending a message around the world that we aren’t sensitive to minorities.
Alabama is the 49th least liked state
According to a recent al.com story, Alabama was ranked the 49th least liked State with a favorability rate of only 8.
How can we effectively recruit companies and the jobs that come with them to a State that many people dislike?
Birmingham is being flooded with positive stories from all over America, but these refreshing tributes to Birmingham are being cancelled out by negative Alabama headlines such as these…
- Only 26% of Alabamians support Governor Bentley’s decision to remove four Confederate flags
- Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore On Gay Marriage Ruling: ‘I Hope We Don’t Have A War
- How the Harshest Immigration Law in the US Ended in Disaster
- Alabama the least democratic state– ranking 51st out of 50 states plus the District of Columbia
These are the stories that people across America see about Alabama month after month.
I’m not making a case against our Southern heritage, for gay marriage, or in favor of illegal immigration—I’m just pointing out the consequences of our behavior.
Many Alabamians may not like it—but these are not popular positions in America today and we are judged accordingly.
Tim Cook, CEO of Apple, said when being inducted into the Alabama Academy of Honor…
“As a state, we took too long to step toward equality. We were too slow on equality for African-Americans. We were too slow on interracial marriage, and we are still too slow on equality for the LGBT community.”
I listen regularly to a Birmingham conservative radio station. One of the hosts was complaining that his wife was ‘under employed’ and could not find a job matching her talents. He blasted President Obama and the Democrats.
I can understand his frustration, but the problem is here in Birmingham and Alabama–not necessarily across America. Over the past four years, Austin had job growth of 17.2%, Nashville 14.9%, and Charlotte 11.7% while metro Birmingham and Alabama have gone nowhere.
We in Alabama wrap our self-worth around Alabama and Auburn football–maybe that’s not enough to convince the rest of America.
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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).