Al.com has published my ComebackTown blog every week for more than five years–283 blogs.
These blogs have been read hundreds of thousands of times.
There have been tens of thousands of comments.
- How did this happen?
- How much do I get paid?
- How much control does al.com have over my content?
These are questions I regularly get asked.
Here’s the story
I’m not a trained writer or a journalist (many of you will agree).
I graduated from the University of Alabama with an accounting degree and have been business partners with my brother my entire adult life.
But I’ve always had a passion for Birmingham.
Sad to say, but I never wanted to be a football player or an astronaut. My goal in life was to be Chairman of the Birmingham Regional Chamber of Commerce (now BBA)–which I was in 2005–the only small business Chairman in the past fifty years.
By being active in the Chamber, I had the opportunity to travel with about 100 community leaders every year to cities all over the U.S. to hear about and evaluate their successes and failures.
Our Birmingham region has always struggled and until I visited these cities, I could not understand why we were falling behind.
The difference between our stagnant Birmingham region and other progressive cities was startling.
I found that other regions work together with a common goal–while we in Birmingham bicker with one another.
We heard business leaders in Charlotte, Nashville, and Austin talk about competing with cities in Europe or Asia. Then we would come home from our trip and see that Irondale had just pilfered a car dealership from Birmingham or Hoover.
Nashville has become a business powerhouse headquartering 29 public companies…while we slipped from 30 to 11.
How to bring about change?
Okay, so I now understood that segmented/competing governments were the root cause of our stagnation.
Is it possible to bring about change?
How do I educate others?
Fortunately, I was an early adopter of blogs and social media.
Why not write a weekly column to begin a conversation about a better Birmingham region?
By sheer luck, within a month of the first published piece, I was contacted by al.com who asked permission to republish.
I was thrilled!
I now had the opportunity to reach a lot more people with no extra work and at no extra cost.
I was trying to create a conversation about a better Birmingham, but a conversation is not really a conversation when you’re the only one doing the talking, so I invited guest bloggers to participate.
I’m proud to report that the number of people reading ComebackTown is growing exponentially. Last year the audience doubled and it’s doubling again this year.
Last week’s article: The dreaded words Mountain Brook parents don’t want to hear, had 1,429 comments and it was shared 327 times.
There are now serious conversations all over Birmingham about regional collaboration and cooperation.
Jeffrey Bayer, from Bayer Properties, predicts that 2017 will be the break out year for our Birmingham region.
Here’s the answer to the questions you’ve been asking….
- Al.com invited me to publish
- I don’t get paid
- I determine the content
My guest bloggers and I submit an article to al.com each week. Al.com has never changed a word. If you don’t like what is published, don’t blame al.com. It’s all me and my guest bloggers.
It’s a good deal for me–ComebackTown offers a free platform for honest and frank discussion.
I assume it’s a good deal for al.com. They do a good deed for our community while building audience to increase advertising revenues.
But the big winner is those of us who want to give our children and grandchildren more robust career opportunities–through increased business and job growth.
Come hear me speak
I give a lot of speeches on Birmingham, but most are presented to closed groups.
However, I’m speaking publicly at the Bham Now BOLD speakers series on Thursday, April 13, upstairs at Avondale Brewery. Doors open at 5:30; speech at 6:00. Tickets are $10 advance; $15 at the door. CLICK HERE FOR TICKETS.
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David Sher is Co-Founder 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).
Invite David to speak to your group about a better Birmingham. firstname.lastname@example.org