What Birmingham can learn from the Amazon HQ2 snub

We knew it in our heart of hearts, Birmingham. Most of you knew it before the big Amazon scramble even started.

As a city we applied our lipstick, puckered our lips and kissed the mirror. We cleaned up real nice. But, the next time we go shaking our thing at big business in an effort to lure them here, let’s remember what this feels like.

Birmingham, Alabama, It's Nice To Have You, cycling, bikes, mural

It Hurt. Just A Little.

When Amazon announced its 20 finalists last week, Birmingham was not on the list. While we put in some effort to attract the $5 billion investment and 50,000 jobs promised by Amazon, it wasn’t enough apparently. So here’s our first lesson to learn: Birmingham, we are not Atlanta or Nashville or Raleigh.

Atlanta, Georgia, Inman Park, Mural
Inman Park, Atlanta’s first planned suburb. Via U.S News & World Report.
Put Down Your Pitchforks, People

And, let’s be realistic. Amazon was seeking 8 million square feet of building by 2027. That’s roughly the size of 160 new football fields. Our labor force is lacking in comparison to the cities that made the cut. Our transit system needs work.

Don’t count me in as a Negative Nelly, though. The best part about the Amazon HQ shenanigans? There are lessons here. Let’s use them to our city’s benefit.

TechBirmingham
Know Our Worth
Birmingham, Alabama, fleetio
The Fleetio staff, via Fleetio
  • We have a new mayor who has pledged to address economic growth within Birmingham’s 99 neighborhoods. Economic mobility across the city is vital, and that includes addressing schools, food deserts, unpaved streets, violence and opportunity. To know our worth, we have to know our weaknesses and work on them.
    Teens Engineer BHM at Birmingham Public Library
    Dr. Abidin Yildirim, Director of Outreach and STEM Coordinator for UAB’s School
    of Engineering , via Birmingham Public Library.

    In his State Of The Community address, Mayor Woodfin stressed the “lack of access to the basic ingredients of self-advancement.” If we are going to grow this city, we have to include everyone. Lesson learned? We can’t just collaborate on a city, county and state level. We have to work together on a neighborhood level, too.

    Birmingham, Alabama, Amazon

  • Finally, let’s give ourselves a round of applause for all that collaboration! For the Amazon proposal Birmingham worked with Jefferson County, the state and the private business community to knock out one heck of a proposal package. So much this. More, please! Do you agree?

    Birmingham,, Alabama, Mayor's Office, #bringatob, Big Communications, Amazon
    Via Facebook, City of Birmingham Mayor’s Office

Now, what are we going to do with those big boxes and buttons?

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