Nashville Mayor has advice for Birmingham

Nashville Mayor Megan Berry speaking to Kiwanis Club of Birmingham
Nashville Mayor Megan Barry speaking to Kiwanis Club of Birmingham

If you think you’re good looking, but few people ask you for a date, you might suspect you have a problem.

You may think you’re ‘cool,’ but if all your friends give you the same advice, then maybe they see something you’re unable to recognize in yourself.

If you aren’t willing to make changes, you’ll remain a wallflower.

That pretty much describes Birmingham.

Our seven county metropolitan area has experienced virtually no job growth since 2000 and Jefferson County has had little or no population growth for the past 30 or 40 years—even lost population last year.

Nashville Mayor gives advice to Birmingham

Nashville’s Mayor Megan Barry spoke recently to the Kiwanis Club of Birmingham.

Ty West, Editor and Chief of the Birmingham Business Journal (BBJ), reported on her talk

“(Mayor) Barry made one thing clear multiple times during her speech that definitely applies to Birmingham: Nashville has been successful in large part because of regional cooperation.

In her city, that means a consolidated metro area government that ensures Barry and other elected officials are making changes in the best interests of a collective region, rather than one particular district, neighborhood or city.

She said, point-blank, that Nashville’s setup makes it easier to get things done and has resulted in growth.

That doesn’t mean government consolidation is the answer for Birmingham.

But it’s another strong sign that the Magic City isn’t going to achieve its potential without increasing regional cooperation.”

Amazon and Birmingham

There’s currently a lot of hype about Amazon’s efforts to find a location for a second headquarters—and Birmingham’s making its case.

But according to the BBJ, of the 50 largest metros in the nation, two don’t have a major Amazon fulfillment or distribution center. Memphis is one and Birmingham is the other.

My goodness–even Mobile is opening a $30 million Amazon distribution center later this year and Mobile is ranked as the 128th largest metro.

You have to assume that eventually Amazon will need Birmingham, but we will be an afterthought.

Community report spells it out for Birmingham

The Community Foundation of Greater Birmingham recently released a report that came to the same conclusion as the Mayor of Nashville.

The report says, “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. In sum, it puts the metro area at a disadvantage.”

The study compared two groups of metropolitan areas. It looked at seven cities that are fragmented like Birmingham (a diminished central city ringed by a multitude of suburbs) and seven metros that have governmental structures that unite the region.

In the regions that are united–job growth ranged from 20% to 50%. In the fragmented metros which included Birmingham, job growth ranged from 5% to -12%.

The report continues, “The same contrast emerges when comparing median income and poverty and unemployment rates: In cities where government is fragmented, growth is slower, and social and economic problems are more concentrated.

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.”

The reports then highlight four metropolitan areas that work together as a region and are on the move—Louisville, Charlotte, Pittsburgh, and Denver…and recommend that we find options from those cities that might benefit Birmingham.

It’s important to note that no option Birmingham may consider involves combining schools.

Everyone tells us the same thing…

We can either try to find a way to work together as a region or we can continue to lose our companies, our jobs, and our children.

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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3 thoughts on “Nashville Mayor has advice for Birmingham”

  1. If we were thinking like a metro area we would not have wasted money on a baseball stadium in downtown B’ham. Instead it was Birmingham vs. Hoover.

    1. Patrick, I really don’t perceive this as Birmingham vs. Hoover. Most ball parks (exception Atlanta) have moved into the City Center. It was a good business decision for the Barons. Mayor Petelos and Mayor Bell seemed to work this out between them. Hoover seems to be moving along nicely with it’s plan for Hoover Metropolitan Stadium.

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