UA would have some good players, but we wouldn’t be winning many football games.
This is the heart of Birmingham’s problem.
Birmingham’s not winning because we haven’t had as many great leaders as other Sun Belt cities.
Cities like Nashville, Charlotte, and Austin have passed us by because they have a strong bench of talented leaders.
Where are our leaders?
Our region does have great leaders, but many devote their time and political capital to their own suburban communities.
For example, I have five charismatic, incredibly smart friends who have taken on leadership roles in Mountain Brook and Homewood. These guys are my heroes!
Stuart Welch is the Mayor of Mountain Brook.
Bruce Limbaugh is the President of the Homewood City Council.
Bradley Sklar, Tommie Luckie, and Richard Murray are members of the Mountain Brook Board of Education.
This is great for Homewood and Mountain Brook, but not necessarily for our region.
When I ask folks from Mountain Brook, what is the reason for its success, they respond that Mountain Brook has always had good leadership.
It’s the same when you query folks from Vestavia Hills, Hoover, Homewood, etc.
Many of our talented leaders reside in Mountain Brook, Hoover, Trussville, etc.
So we have a great Mountain Brook.
A great Hoover.
A great Trussville.
And a sluggish Birmingham region.
Metropolitan Birmingham stagnates
According to the Birmingham Business Journal (BBJ) our Birmingham -Hoover metropolitan area (7 counties) ranked 179th out of the 200 best performing cities in America–primarily due to little or no job growth.
And as Jeffrey Bayer lamented in his most recent piece, Gobsmacked by this Birmingham Statistic, our metro was ranked 86th out of the 100 largest metros in economic performance.
Atlanta Mayor warned Homewood and Mountain Brook
As Atlanta Mayor William Hartsfield warned in a letter letter to Homewood in 1959, “I have often wondered why they (Homewood and Mountain Brook) were not a part of Birmingham. They seem to be peopled by a class of people whose advice and counsel and whose vote and civic service are badly needed by Birmingham.”
Folks in our suburbs have no real power to make our Birmingham region competitive
We can’t vote.
We aren’t eligible for public office.
Our only option is to bitch and complain.
Meanwhile our children and grandchildren have little opportunities and move to cities with stronger leadership.
Birmingham has a new City Council President and three new City Counselors–and soon a new Mayor. Can you imagine our potential if we had the synergy and brainpower of all our regional leadership?
All five of my previously mentioned Mountain Brook and Homewood friends play active roles to improve our broader community–but are only available for leadership roles in their respective municipalities.
That’s too bad.
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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.