What folks in Mt. Brook and Vestavia are losing

Mountain Brook
Mountain Brook

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…

Hi David,

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:

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.

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, 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).

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8 thoughts on “What folks in Mt. Brook and Vestavia are losing”

  1. The tone of the column seems to have taken a step in the right direction over the past few weeks. All of the talk of consolidation is good and it should have happened 50 years ago. But, what is actually being done to possibly make this a reality? Is there anyone anywhere who is seriously working to make this happen? Is there anyone anywhere who has a plan to make this happen? It won’t come from the city governments, they are all nonsensical and power hungry. It won’t come from the business community, they are all sellouts and stuck in the 1960’s. So, again, who is actually working to make this happen?

    1. Birmingham Only, thanks for following ComebackTown and for your comments. You obviously care about our Birmingham region. Actually there is a lot going on behind the scenes to evaluate our government structure and consider the possibilities. There are many folks who have a passion for our community and want to see us progress. Your comments and feedback are always welcome.

  2. *David, as always, your writing hits home with me.  In the past, too many of the best and brightest, of all races and religions, moved away for better opportunity in other cities and regions.  I sense this is changing with more job opportunities in Birmingham.  This is the critical factor.  We are at the proverbial tipping point.  I am so proud of our entrepreneurs who are creating businesses and jobs that will take hold of our children and grandchildren, and will enable them to stay here for a bright future in a hip environment, surrounded by familiarity, friends and family!

  3. David —

    I agree that we lose many young people, and many of the most talented of our young people. I’m in my 30s and graduated from ASFA, a school that the state pours money into (relative to most public schools) in the name of providing an excellent education for the state’s best. But, after that investment, a huge percentage of those students flee the state. Some of that has to do with jobs, but some of it has to do with their perception of the state of AL and the city of Birmingham. Many young people can’t wait to escape because they think of our state / metro as being so backwards in so many ways.

    My point? We have a perception problem, and we pass it on to our kids. If we live in the burbs and spend our time trash-talking the city / state but neglect to foster a love of and loyalty to our place, then our kids are ready to get the heck out once they’re grown. But the same goes for city-dwellers. If we live in the city and spend our time trash-talking the burbs and the state, our kids are ready to get out, too.

    I propose that if parents want there to be a chance of their kids sticking around, they invest time and energy into enjoying unique things about our metro area with them and make sure they talk about the good reasons to live here in addition (or instead?) of all the problems.

  4. Either fix the government schools or live with the status quo, and the only way to fix them is with vouchers.

  5. This city has know leader plain and simple, from the State to the city the mojority of our political judicial system along with the most important oraganation we have here in our city which is the NAACP this #21century generation of all demographics have not a clue where thr office of we the people.what has to be done is vote all of our elected officials out and have an election with the understanding of who what when where and why?#lendahand.ning.com #make it happen

  6. *Unfortunately, you are right on target.  I have been noticing for some time that so many of our best and brightest young people are going away to good colleges, seeing what is out there and never coming back to Birmingham.  My son is graduating soon, planning to go to MIT and planning not to come back here as there is nothing in his field to offer him.  Birmingham and other cities surrounding Birmingham have had discussions before about a unified approach to governing for growth for all.  People in the suburbs act as it what is happening in Birmingham does not affect them; however, there would not be a Mountain Brook or Vestavia were it not for Birmingham.  Rita Kennedy

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