Today’s guest blogger is Hoyt Sanders.
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A number of Jefferson County mayors signed a pact this year to combat “poaching” of businesses between cities and to pursue long-term economic growth for our region.
I’m proud to be the latest mayor to sign the “Good Neighbor Pledge,” joining 22 of my counterparts around Jefferson County.
You might ask why I would commit not to recruit other cities’ businesses even when a relocation might benefit Pinson.
Pinson is Jefferson County’s youngest city. I’ve been Pinson’s mayor since its creation in 2004. I am fully aware of the value of our business base. Like most other cities in Jefferson County, sales taxes are a key source of revenue that allows us to provide the services our citizens expect and deserve.
This reality has undoubtedly been a factor in some instances of cities “poaching” businesses from their neighbors – sometimes providing financial incentives for those businesses to move across city lines.
Cities need revenue that keeps up with the rising costs of meeting our constituents’ needs. I understand that, but I can honestly say I have never tried to solicit a business from any other city in Jefferson County.
And it’s true: It’s not because I wouldn’t love to have those businesses. My family has been in the Pinson area for 200 years. I love Pinson, and I wake up every day thinking about how to make Pinson an even better place to live. Economic growth is a key part of that.
But to take existing businesses from other cities would be, in essence, taking services from their citizens. I don’t want someone taking from my citizens, and I truly believe I should treat others the way I want to be treated.
You could say that I signed an agreement to do what I am already doing.
But the Pinson City Council and I want to be part of the “Good Neighbor” group of mayors anyway because we believe it’s an important step forward for our county.
The pledge is guided by the spirit that the cities of Jefferson County should be able trust one another and work together when it’s in our interest to do so – and particularly when it comes to economic development.
We can be proud of our cities, and we all are. We can promote our cities, and we all do. But we can’t lose sight of the fact that we are part of a larger community whose success or failure cannot really be separated from ours.
This is especially true in today’s economy. More and more, success comes to communities whose governments and institutions work together to put their best foot forward in a highly competitive world.
Pinson already works closely with our neighbors, particularly Center Point and Clay. Our residents regularly cross city lines to shop, work, go to church, and visit family and friends. Our city governments loan and borrow equipment from one another. We help each other out in times of need. At the end of the day, we operate independent cities, but we cooperate, too.
It’s even true to some degree on economic development: Pinson and Clay share a common Chamber of Commerce.
This pledge takes what is already happening in many of our communities to a new level.
When Pinson signed the Good Neighbor Pledge, we joined Clay and Center Point along with many other cities: Argo, Bessemer, Birmingham, Brighton, Fairfield, Graysville, Homewood, Hoover, Lipscomb, Midfield, Mountain Brook, Mulga, Pleasant Grove, Sylvan Springs, Tarrant, Trafford, Trussville, Vestavia Hills, Warrior and West Jefferson.
This represents a large, geographically diverse group of cities agreeing to think more collectively and strategically about how to create a prosperous future for all of our communities.
To be clear: The pledge doesn’t mean that businesses won’t be able to move from one city to another. That happens for a number of reasons that do not involve poaching or bad intentions on anyone’s part. At Pinson’s request, the pledge was amended to clarify that other cities might offer incentives to assist businesses that have been forced from their current location because of circumstances beyond their control – such as storm damage, public condemnation, or private redevelopment.
But the fundamental spirit of the pledge is an acknowledgment that simply moving businesses from one zip code to another won’t bring our cities long-term economic success. Our future depends on us being able to nurture our existing businesses and to bring in new businesses so that we can create additional jobs and opportunities for our citizens – and for our children and grandchildren.
The Good Neighbor Pledge lays a solid foundation for that future – the one I want for Pinson and for other cities in Jefferson County, too.
Hoyt Sanders has served as the mayor of Pinson since 2004. His family connections to the Pinson area date back 200 years.
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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 how we can have a more prosperous metro Birmingham. firstname.lastname@example.org