I’ve written repeatedly how Birmingham’s always been dominated by outsiders.
U.S Steel headquartered in Pittsburgh, once Birmingham’s largest employer, controlled our economy.
Montgomery, our state capital, has historically treated Birmingham like a step child.
The UA Board of Trustees in Tuscaloosa calls the shots for our now largest employer UAB.
And through recent acquisitions many of our largest companies and banks are now managed from out of state.
The al.com piece focuses on RSA CEO David Bronner’s sometimes questionable investment strategies, but what is obvious is how poorly Bronner has treated Birmingham.
Look what Bronner and the RSA have done for Montgomery and Mobile:
“In Montgomery, these sites include the RSA Tower Complex, the RSA Plaza, the RSA Union, the RSA Criminal Justice Center, and the RSA Headquarters. With their signature green roofs, the RSA buildings in The Gump are seemingly ubiquitous.
In Mobile, the RSA’s office holdings include the Battle House Tower, the 34-story Trustmark Building, and the newly renovated Van Antwerp Building – the jewel of the downtown district. The soft electric glow of the buildings can be seen from miles away at night.
Altogether, the buildings were valued at more than $638 million.”
In the 1980’s, 90’s, and 2000’s when Michael Calvert was the President of Operation New Birmingham, he constantly made efforts to convince the RSA to be even handed with Birmingham—but was totally ignored.
In the above noted article, Bronner is quoted, “If you take away all our investments in Alabama, we’d be in bad shape, Mobile would be a ghost town. Downtown Montgomery would not exist.”
But what about Birmingham—the largest city in Alabama? Downtown Birmingham has completely been left out.
Birmingham has to be one of the unluckiest cities in America–controlled by others and overlooked by our friends. It’s truly remarkable we are now ‘kicking butt and taking names.’
The State Legislature recently formed a committee to examine the pension system and how it compares to other states.
Maybe we in Birmingham need to conduct our own investigation.
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David Sher is the publisher of ComebackTown 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).