Bham Now’s next Bold Speaker should be in a straightjacket

David Sher should be constrained by a straightjacket!  That’s what I told him after my interview.  He works non-stop on a project that many people think is impossible.  Bham Now is thrilled to welcome Sher as our next Bold Speaker on April 13th.  Find out why.

But don’t underestimate him. He’s driven to educate folks to work together as a region– to grow jobs, recruit more businesses, and keep our young people.

He’s up at 5am to make the final edits on ComebackTown—a blog he’s published every week for the past five years to share his vision for Birmingham.

At 9 am he meets a potential guest blogger who wants the world to know that professional soccer could be the next big sport for Birmingham.

At noon he gives a speech to a civic club.

At 2 pm he’s scheduled for coffee with a millennial who wants to plug into our reawakening city.

David’s non-stop.

He sadly confesses that his big goal in life was not to be a rock star or a professional athlete. His dream was to be Chairman of the Birmingham Chamber of Commerce—something he accomplished in 2005–the only small business Chairman of the Chamber or BBA for the past 50 years.

He says he’s always loved Birmingham, but couldn’t understand why Birmingham– located in the heart of the Sunbelt– the fastest growing region in the U.S. — has fallen so far behind.

But David found out why.

He traveled every year with the Chamber to dynamic cities all over America. After visits to fast growing cities like Nashville, Charlotte, and Austin—towns that use to be much smaller than Birmingham, David says,

“Our shortcomings became obvious.”

Governments in these cities worked together as a team to compete with regions all over the world–while we divided ourselves into small weak municipalities that bicker with one another.

David laments, “We should be irate that our Birmingham-Hoover metro region has fewer people working today than ten years ago. While other Southern cities celebrate double digit job growth, we are losing our children for lack of opportunities.”

But David boasts “Birmingham is going through a transformation.  We’re beginning to feel better about ourselves—enjoying our success.”

David says most people understand that our divisiveness is holding us back—but think we can’t change.

When I asked him why people are so negative, he responds,

“Folks are afraid our existing school systems will be dismantled.”

David assures me that this is nonsense—no proposed solutions would involve meddling with our schools.

David says that Birmingham has always suffered from low self-esteem. “Why try? We’ll never be successful.”

Birmingham Alabama

“But that’s not true anymore– Regions Field, Railroad Park, Rotary Trail, Publix, The Pizitz. The list is endless. Birmingham is rocking and rolling!”

“No one can say with a straight face that Birmingham is not capable of change.”

Business leaders like Jeffrey Bayer of Bayer Properties, Merrill Stewart of Stewart Perry, and Jay Grinney, who recently retired as CEO of HealthSouth, are working tirelessly to fight for a regional attitude.

Young people are enthusiastic and mobilized to fight for a better future. David predicts 2017 will be the year we get serious about becoming a cohesive-unstoppable region.

I don’t think David can be slowed down– unless we put him in a straightjacket.

Come hear David give insight into our future at the upcoming Bham Now Bold Speaker’s Series, Thursday, April 13th at Avondale Brewery (upstairs).  Doors open at 5pm.  Program from 6 – 7pm. Limited seats!   Early bird pricing ’til April 12th.

As a bonus, we will be honoring the United Way of Central Alabama, Sher’s choice, and donating 10% of all ticket sales to them (min of $100).

See you there!

Author: Pat Byington

Longtime conservationist. Former Executive Director at the Alabama Environmental Council and Wild South. Publisher of the Bama Environmental News for more than 18 years. Career highlights include playing an active role in the creation of Alabama’s Forever Wild program, Little River Canyon National Preserve, Dugger Mountain Wilderness, preservation of special places throughout the East through the Wilderness Society and the strengthening (making more stringent) the state of Alabama’s cancer risk and mercury standards.