There’s an old joke about the highly addicted smoker who complains, “I’ve read so much about the dangers of smoking that I’ve decided to quit reading.
That is how I feel about Nashville.
I read story after story about Nashville’s continued economic successes—recruiting companies—large and small to their city.
Nashville is clearly on a roll.
Bloomberg News just reported this month that AllianceBernstein Holding LP is moving its corporate headquarters and about 1,050 jobs to Nashville—investing more than $70 million.
“I see Nashville as a game-changer for AB in terms of our ability to source, develop and retain talent, provide a high quality of life for our employees, increase our competitive edge in an increasingly challenging marketplace,” Bernstein said in a memo.
It is projected that one million new people will move to the Nashville region by 2040.
Nashville may have just screwed up
But Nashville, the city that seems to do no wrong, may have stumbled.
A couple of weeks ago The Tennessean reported that Nashville voters overwhelmingly rejected a transit referendum that “called for light rail lines on five corridors, rapid bus on four others, a 1.8-mile underground tunnel and a range of immediate bus upgrades.
My Nashville friends complain about the overwhelming traffic and gridlock—can you imagine what life will be in Nashville with one million more people and inadequate public transportation?
Cities like Nashville and Atlanta are clearly becoming difficult places to live.
Now’s Birmingham’s chance
If you are thinking we don’t want Birmingham to be like Nashville or Atlanta—I agree.
But our Birmingham region, as you probably know, has had virtually no population or job growth.
It is projected that Jefferson County will grow by 21,467 people by 2040—compared to one million in Nashville.
We are not providing jobs or opportunities for our children.
Birmingham loses another headquarters
While Nashville announced the AllianceBernstein move– the unsettling announcement from Birmingham is that Cadence Bank is moving its headquarters from Birmingham to Atlanta.
We must begin to develop a regional plan for rational-organized growth. But how we do that with so many competing municipalities?
Jefferson County Mayors are showing leadership and vision
Gardendale’s Mayor Stan Hogeland, President of the Jefferson County Mayor’s Association, is taking a leadership position in encouraging our mayors to work with one another.
Last week he wrote in an op-ed piece in the Birmingham Business Journal (BBJ), “We’re too divided, we have too many cities, we compete when we should cooperate.”
“Looking for possible collaborations is a good way to do that.”
“We can start by looking for concerns shared by all our cities and then for solutions that would help. On some issues, we might find we can have more impact by working together than we can by working alone.”
He wrote about the cooperative spirit he witnessed recently when he joined the mayors of Bessemer, Birmingham, Hoover, Mountain Brook and Vestavia Hills on a panel organized by the BBJ. (Photo)
“My hope is that all the mayors of Jefferson County will engage in this conversation going forward.”
Mayor Hogeland’s dream should be our dream too.
Our future depends on it.
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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