“Who knows what is good or bad at the time it happens?”
This quote helps me maintain my sanity during challenging times.
I’m not going to make the case that the Coronavirus is good—it’s not.
But it could be a game changer for Birmingham.
Our Birmingham region is blessed with an incredible quality of life–state of the art healthcare, smart and generous people, stunning scenery, and a real sense of community.
But Birmingham has probably had more ups and downs than any city in America.
Because Birmingham has fallen behind our peer cities—we assume it will be that way forever.
But Birmingham has had some tremendous triumphs—and we can do it again.
Birmingham’s a new city
History tells us about The Battle of New Orleans—War of 1812.
We’ve read about General Sherman marching through Atlanta–Civil War, 1864.
Birmingham didn’t even exist until 1871.
And Birmingham almost failed immediately–a cholera epidemic and the financial panic of 1873 almost put a stop to Birmingham’s future.
But the city grew so rapidly afterwards that it earned the nickname “The Magic City”. Between 1902 and 1912, four large office buildings were built at the intersection of 20th Street and 1st Avenue North which became known as the “Heaviest Corner on Earth”.
Birmingham had gone from zero in 1871 to a major industrial powerhouse in less than 50 years—pretty amazing for a brand new town.
But then the Depression of the 1930’s devastated Birmingham causing President Roosevelt to call Birmingham the “worst-hit town in the country.”
World War II and the demand for steel followed by a post-war building boom brought Birmingham back with a vengeance.
But then negative Civil Rights events in the ‘50’s and 60’s and the rush to the suburbs put an end to the region’s progress. Jefferson County’s population stagnated, job growth stalled, and young people moved away.
The future of America is being rewritten
No one knows what America will look like after the Coronavirus, but we know things will be different.
As written in The Washington Post, The great migration of 2020, “As President Trump’s administration develops a national ranking of counties as high-, medium- or low-risk for the spread of the virus, people in search of relative safety — and perhaps some paying work — are expanding existing trends away from expensive, crowded cities and toward small towns and rural areas.”
“The movement we’re seeing now is not just a reaction to one pandemic”, said Joel Kotkin, who studies how and why people move. “There will be a longer impact, an acceleration of the process that was already starting.”
We’ve learned that living in large cities with a high density of people may not be ideal.
We’ve learned that it’s possible to work remotely and still be productive.
And we’ve learned that it may be preferable to live and work in a livable city like Birmingham and not have to suffer the negative quality of life issues like overcrowding and congestion.
We often take for granted the blessings of living in a beautiful region with likeable-generous people, and excellent healthcare.
Now it’s Birmingham’s turn.
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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 for free to your group about how we can have a more prosperous metro Birmingham. email@example.com.