Nashville’s goof may be Birmingham’s big break

Jefferson County Mayors Kenneth Gulley, Bessemer; Stan Hogeland, Gardendale; Randall Woodfin, Birmingham; Stuart Welch, Mtn. Brook; Ashley Curry, Vestavia Hills; Frank Brocato, Hoover (photo courtesy BBJ)
Jefferson County Mayors Kenneth Gulley, Bessemer; Stan Hogeland, Gardendale; Randall Woodfin, Birmingham; Stuart Welch, Mtn. Brook; Ashley Curry, Vestavia Hills; Frank Brocato, Hoover at BBJ Mayors’ Roundtable (photo courtesy BBJ)

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.

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. dsher@amsher.com

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3 thoughts on “Nashville’s goof may be Birmingham’s big break”

  1. Growing bigger is fine, but if we are going to grow it needs to be PLANNED growth, with infrastructure that supports it. I spend a lot of time reading about urban planning and a variety of transportation methods: Cars, Bikes, Pedestrian, Buses, Streetcars, Trains, are essential to growing in a way that will make it tolerable.

  2. Kudos to the West Jefferson County Mayor’s Association and its leadership. Together we can do more by working on common goals we all benefit. Any task is doable if we break it down and all doe out part. We are one county but many cities all tied together. What impacts one will eventually affect all. USX is a great example. Great job and economic generator. When it closed, all of Jefferson and the central Alabama counties were impacted. I have always believed that new growth for Jefferson County will be to the west, where there is a lot of undeveloped land and access to waterways, utilities and other infrastructure. The 2020 Census is fast approaching, we won’t increase population enough to make up for all the roof tops lost by several natural disaster by 2020, but we can begin to take the first steps to work together on a plan to put our county on strong economic and community development footing and build on that. It took years of planning and countless hours of elected officials, community and business leaders to build Red Mountain Expressway and I-22; today they are realities. We’re opening u our county with improved interstate connections so people can travel easier and safer. We need to now create a reason for them to stop, stay and spend, not just a pass through county to someplace else.

  3. Birmingham is losing jobs and citizen because of the high crime problem and greed among the high officials.
    Then you have Gardendale showing the racist attitude of that town when they want to segregate the school system…
    You have mass transit but it is only limping along and not stable, too many chiefs and not enough Indians.
    A pending debate over a stadium downtown, which is not necessary, see that improvement to Legion Field will solve all sports problems, but I have serious doubt that any major sports venture would ever move to this slow-moving and backward community.
    Housing, low and median income is not available in the area you want to build a new stadium…
    Wake up Birmingham, bring in younger educated and free-thinking individuals into city and county government and take the greedy people out….

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