Leading the parade of professionals back downtown

John Shank, Barfield, Murphy, Shank and Smith
John Shank–Barfield, Murphy, Shank and Smith

ComebackTown is published by David Sher to begin a discussion on a better Birmingham.

Today’s guest blogger is John Shank.  If you’d like to be a guest blogger, please click here.

This wouldn’t have happened five years ago.

It wouldn’t have happened two years ago—or even last year.

But now’s the time…

Some people may view CPA’s as dull and boring, but we’ve always viewed ourselves as creative and visionary.

We want to lead the parade—not wait and get left behind.

That’s why we want to move people in Riverchase to downtown Birmingham.

Actually, there are a multitude of reasons why we at Barfield, Murphy, Shank, and Smith chose to open a satellite office in downtown Birmingham.

Excitement building downtown

First, we have watched the momentum build in downtown.  Bit by bit, we have seen the news and excitement grow as new buildings and projects are unveiled in downtown areas.

Our people tend to stay in our south-of-town cocoon and it felt like we were missing out on this exciting new adventure called “Downtown Birmingham.”

The excitement is such that we want to be there – we want to be in and a part of it – not just scoot down there, check it out for a short time and then head back south of town.  We want to be able to live the full experience.

A selfish motive

Second, we are a business and have a selfish profit motive.  The tide has been steadily turning with new and existing businesses moving back to the city center.  It is important for us to be close and accessible to existing clients and potential new clients.  This new location will encourage our people to be more active downtown whether civic or professional.

Our feeling is these types of activities have been curtailed for us due to being south of town.  Who wants to get in their car at 4:30, drive downtown, find a parking spot and get to a networking event and go through all of that hassle at the end of the work day?  Now, should any of us have an event that is downtown we can simply work from our satellite office for the day.

This will foster in our people an environment of being involved in the community from a business and a civic perspective.

Young folks love downtown

Third, we needed space and our young folks (the proverbial millennials) love the concept.  Millennials are great (I actually have two of them in college) so this is not a “bash the millennials” section.

A fact for BMSS is we hire at least four new graduates straight from college and four interns every year.  Yes, they are different from my generation just like we were different from our parents and they were from theirs and so on.  Call it the circle of life.  The millennials in our office are embracing the concept and we think it will be a great recruiting tool for future hires.

My two older children love to explore downtown and think it is so cool (probably not their word) to go down there.  Who would have thought that stringing colored lights that intermittently change in a railroad underpass would attract an entire generation downtown?

Also, experts say (whoever they are?) the younger generation wants to work in an open, collaborative environment.  This move allows experimentation with this concept on a smaller basis to see if it could work on a larger scale for our home office.

A vibrant downtown is important for our region

I am an avowed downtown junkie and plan on splitting time between both offices.  A vibrant growing downtown is a huge plus for the entire region-economically and socially.  Birmingham at times struggles with issues created by having a multitude of small cities and towns that make up the greater Birmingham area.

Helping keep the downtown momentum alive and fanning that flame of resurgence is a no-brainer that the entire metro area needs to get behind.

Our hope is that this move will help us do our part in some small way.

John Shank is a CPA and a founding member of Barfield, Murphy, Shank and Smith, LLC a full service accounting and advisory firm employing over 100 people in the Birmingham metro area with offices in Riverchase and downtown Birmingham.

BMSS satellite office will be located in the historic Title Building at the corner of 3rd Avenue North and Richard Arrington Jr. Boulevard. 

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David Sher 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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2 thoughts on “Leading the parade of professionals back downtown”

  1. *Mr. Shank makes some very impressive observations about the obvious success of  the revitalized down town in OUR TOWN and is willing to put his money (Business) where his mouth is by locating a branch office of his accounting firm in that area. We can only hope that this new attitude of confidence is becoming the standard and not just a temporary trend.

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