I’m uniquely qualified to write about living in Mountain Brook and Vestavia Hills.
I grew up and raised my children in Mountain Brook and about ten years ago my wife and I moved to Vestavia.
People in Birmingham– whether they live in Mountain Brook, Vestavia Hills, or in Trussville–want the same thing—to be around family and to have good jobs.
However, that’s more difficult in metropolitan Birmingham than in many other Southern cities.
We’re losing our children and grandchildren
I was rushing to Rotary at the Harbert Center downtown when a Rotarian friend stopped me, shook my hand, and asked for some advice. He said his son-in-law and daughter were considering leaving Birmingham. He wanted me to help him build a case to convince them to stay.
I get these requests all the time. Here’s an e-mail I recently received…
I need to ask a favor. My son-in-law’s in the job market and I was wondering if he could have a conversation with you? He has an MBA from UAB and I’m hoping my family will stay in Birmingham. I really love having them here and of course I love having my granddaughter here to spoil!
Unfortunately I’m usually unable to help because Birmingham generally doesn’t have the jobs.
In this case the young man was a product manager. He told me he could only find one company in Birmingham advertising for a product manager—but there were twenty in Dallas. He felt it was inevitable he and his family would be forced to move.
Metropolitan Birmingham has fewer jobs than 2007
I’ve written on numerous occasions about lack of job growth in metropolitan Birmingham.
According to 2010-2014 Annual Average Employment (Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, March 18, 2015), Metropolitan Birmingham grew jobs by 4%. Compare that to Austin 17.2%, Nashville 14.9%, Raleigh 11.9%, and Charlotte 11.7%.
Metropolitan Birmingham’s (7 counties) employment peaked at 531.200 in July, 2007. Eight years later metropolitan Birmingham had only 518,500—a loss of 12,700 jobs.
Birmingham doesn’t have to give up a thing to keep our children and jobs
Many of my friends and neighbors tell me, “I don’t care about the City of Birmingham—we’re happy in the suburbs.” Of course they’re not happy when their children leave and they have to travel to see their grandchildren.
Birmingham is competing with cities with unified governments, a common vision, and combined regional resources. We have 35+ municipalities who selfishly look out for themselves and steal from one another.
Our Birmingham region could be cohesive without giving up a thing. Look how other cities have been flexible enough to work together:
- Nashville consolidated county/city, but smaller communities were allowed to maintain their autonomy
- Indianapolis consolidated county/city, but did not consolidate school systems
- Charlotte did a functional consolidation (county and city provide non-competing services–avoiding duplication)
Birmingham has a great quality of life—and we’re showing progress and pride.
Now’s our chance to create the Birmingham that will not only create jobs, but keep our families together.
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David Sher is the publisher of ComebackTown, leads business development for the Small Business Division of the Intermark Group, and is 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).