The year was 2002. Dave Adkisson, the then Birmingham Chamber of Commerce President, and I were in St. Louis jogging early one morning when we struck up a conversation with a local runner.
He asked where we were from and why we were visiting St. Louis. We told him we were with a group of about 100 business leaders and politicians from Birmingham who had come to St. Louis to learn about his city’s successes.
It seems like a distant memory, but in the 70’s and 80’s, Birmingham leaders were plotting to recruit an NFL football franchise to Birmingham. I don’t know how close we came, but we obviously felt there was a possibility.
Up until a few years ago, our Chamber of Commerce (currently BBA), organized a trip of community leaders and politicians to visit other cities. They were called the “BIG Trips,” and the purpose was to learn what works in other communities.
The Chamber over a seven year period visited St. Louis (2002), Baltimore (2003), Charlotte (2004), Nashville (2005), Pittsburgh (2006), Denver (2007, and Austin (2008).
With Vulcan Materialsfacing a hostile takeover bid from a North Carolina-based competitor, Birmingham is on the verge of losing another public company headquarters. Even if Vulcan survives, the trend is ominous.