Jeffrey Bayer challenges Birmingham

Jeffrey Bayer, Bayer Properties
Jeffrey Bayer, President & CEO of Bayer Properties

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

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

I’ve always loved Birmingham…but quite frankly I’m disappointed.

I’m not talking about just the City of Birmingham—I’m talking about all of Birmingham—yes, all cities and counties.

Birmingham’s beautiful; our people are smart and generous; but it’s exasperating that we continue to lose our children, our businesses, and our jobs.

Metropolitan Birmingham is stagnant

The prestigious Milken Institute ranked the top 200 performing cities in the U.S. and our Birmingham-Hoover metro ranked 173rd.

Average annual employment in our seven county Birmingham-Hoover metro is basically flat since 2000.

Jefferson County has had virtually no population growth in 50 years and lost population last year.

Birmingham and Nashville

Birmingham’s having some successes. We at Bayer Properties invested $70 million into The Pizitz. The City of Birmingham put in $64 million to build Regions Field. But compare that to Nashville which the Birmingham Business Journal (BBJ) says has at least 30 projects estimated at more the $100 million each.

Why Birmingham is stagnant

Many of us thought we knew why Birmingham was stagnant, but now we know for sure.

The Public Research Council of Alabama (PARCA)—through a grant from the Community Foundation of Greater Birmingham— just completed a one year economic study of metropolitan Birmingham and the results are clear.

“Nationally, a substantial body of research indicates that metro areas with more broad-based, cooperative governmental arrangements grow faster and generate greater prosperity than metro areas that are governmentally fragmented, divided into a multitude of independent municipalities.

Our central city of Birmingham is surrounded by more independent suburbs than any other southern city.

This pattern of fragmentation has consequences.”

It leads to duplication, creates intra-regional competition, concentrates economic advantage and disadvantage, and diffuses resources and leadership. It makes it difficult to arrive at consensus, pursue priorities of regional importance, or deliver services that transcend municipal boundaries.

It puts the metro area at a disadvantage.”

Our central city and suburbs are interlocked

The graph below compares job growth since 2000 in two groups of metropolitan areas.

The seven cities on the left are fragmented like Birmingham: a diminished central city ringed by a multitude of suburbs. In the fragmented metros, job growth ranges from 5 % to -12%.

The seven metros on the right have governmental structures that unite the region. In the more unified metros, job growth since 2000 ranges from 20 percent to 50 percent.

Job growth for segmented vs. unified regions
Job growth for segmented vs. unified regions

“The negative effects of fragmentation weigh not only on the center city but also on the metropolitan area as a whole. The fortunes of the central city and its suburbs are interlocked.”

Birmingham has options that don’t involve combining schools or municipalities.

The study looked at other cities who have overcome their segmentation by implementing changes in government structure.

We now have an opportunity to review those options and evaluate what might be best for Birmingham.

Please review the report—at least the executive summary.

Spread the word about the research. Talk with others and consider the possibilities.

Many people I talk with agree that Birmingham’s segmentation is a problem, but they think it’s impossible to change.

Negative predictions about Birmingham have been wrong

Some folks predicted our Summit Shopping Center would fail.

Others wailed that Railroad Park would fail.

Naysayers predicted Region Field would fail.

Now some of the same folks are certain our efforts towards regionalism will fail.

We are proving the Birmingham doubters wrong every day.

I challenge Birmingham

I challenge Birmingham to keep our progress moving forward.

The future of our community and our children depend on it.

Don’t believe me?  Watch this 3 minute video…

Jeffrey A. Bayer, President and CEO of Bayer Properties, has fostered his organization into a national commercial real estate leader.  Jeffrey’s a Birmingham native and an uncompromising Birmingham supporter.

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 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.

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6 thoughts on “Jeffrey Bayer challenges Birmingham”

  1. Mr. Bayer, why don’t you ask your buddies at the BBA why they create no jobs in our city? Why don’t you ask them where their bloated budget goes? Why don’t you ask Brian Hilson why Huntsville job growth has been double that of Birmingham since he left Huntsville and invaded Birmingham? Why don’t you ask Brian Hilson to do anything other than spin a number every fee months in an attempt to make himself look good? Why dont you ask him why the BBA lacks transparency? Why don’t you ask Brian Hilson why he doesn’t aggressively recruit every Innovation Depot business to remain in Birmingham as opposed to giving nothing but silence as so many businesses have disclosed?

    Until the BBA is held accountable and overhauled, there is no hope for job growth in Birmingham.

  2. Let’s give credit where credit is due. Thanks to our visionary Mayor Bell, Birmingham”s job growth and population has experienced an uptick. Birmingham has enough naysayers without real estate developers adding on to the negativity. Birmingham is experiencing a renaissance . Stop comparing unrealistic analogies. Birmingham and Nashville? Please…

    1. William Bell is the epitome of corruption and is a big reason Birmingham languishes. He should be exiled.

  3. Comeback Town really needs a lesson in ROOT CAUSE ANALYSIS. I’m going to give you a free, next time I charge, lesson so listen closely.
    1. Ask what the problem is. (lack of growth)
    2. What causes the lack of growth? (Fragmentation of metro resources).
    3. What causes fragmentation of resources? (Fragmentation of metro governments, agencies and services).
    4. What causes the fragmentation of these governments, agencies and services? (Communities leaving centralized governments).
    5. Why are communities leaving centralized government? (To have local control).
    6. Why do communities want local control? (Because the centralized governments of Bham/JeffCo are not transparent, corrupt, inefficient, delivery poor service quality and bloated with career politicians and/or public service works who offer no value).

    So until the ROOT CAUSE of the problem is addressed this idea of a one world government, I mean a one regional government will go nowhere. Make a plan for corrective actions to address the lack of transparency, poor quality and inefficiencies. Implement these plans. Because if you are successful in getting a regional government but fail to address the ROOT CAUSE, you will ultimately fail. That failure maybe in the form of another wave of while flight, because we all know the white folks are gonna leave Over the Mountain if a regional government is implemented without major changes in Bham/JeffCo leadership. Or the failure might just simply be in another bankruptcy or just a failure to grow or maintain jobs.

    So Comeback Town and Mr. Bayer, are you going to take on downtown? Are you going to take on the corruption and the lack of transparency?

  4. First I would like to take a moment to thank Mr Sher, Mr Bayer and the other contributors to this website and this cause. Clearly you genuinely care about this city and want the highest quality of life for its citizens – I admire that and you should be commended. I also agree that fragmentation is a possible contributing factor to the lack of growth however I am skeptical that this the only factor or even the primary factor. To that end, I would like people to consider that universities are often an ignition point of new businesses, ideas, and technology. UAB is clearly first rate in the medical and clinical arena however engineering, computer science, basic sciences, and business need to be treated as truly first class citizens to take Birmingham to the next level. The generous contributions by the Collat family and others towards the School of Business was a great start. I would like to see the same for other fields I mention. UAB needs to think of itself as comprehensive university and not just a medical school. Doing so will take both UAB and the region to the next level both economically and culturally.

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