Add Birmingham to Tech’s Growing List of Tech Hubs ~ Barron’s
That is the headline and subsequent story that was published this weekend by Barron’s, one of the nation’s most influential financial publications.
Calling Birmingham’s recent influx of tech start-ups, “the economic renaissance of The Magic City,” the Barron’s story (subscription is required) profiles the emergence of the growing tech ecosystem in the city as a potential national tech hub.
According to Barron’s, Innovation Depot and the economic “sleeping giant” UAB has helped create a climate for tech growth. The article also features several successful and emerging local tech companies, including, Shipt, XpertDox, Helplightning and Planet Fundraiser.
Bham Now reached out to local tech and business leaders for a reaction to the Barron’s story.
UAB Dean of Collat School of Business Eric Jack
“If we dare to look carefully beyond the headlines, we will see the civic and political leadership along with a growing tech ecosystem in Birmingham, Alabama that is clearly resurging from its past heyday as a steel manufacturing town,” said Eric Jack, Dean of the UAB Collat School of Business in response to the Barron’s story.
An example of that civic and political leadership was the opening last month of UAB’s state of the art, Collat School Business building.
“From my perspective as President of the Rotary Club of Birmingham and Dean of the UAB Collat School of Business that just opened a new $37.5M building, with the support by generous donors, and in partnership with the Harbert Institute for Innovation and Entrepreneurship, we now have strategic alignment to innovate Birmingham. We are diligently making the choices to create economic opportunities that address current and future employment gaps,” added Jacks.
Devon Laney, CEO of Innovation Depot
Devon Laney, CEO of Innovation Depot sees cooperation and partnerships between private and public sectors as one of Birmingham’s greatest assets.
“Birmingham is benefitting from a combination of several factors that you don’t see in many other communities: very aligned public and private sectors around technology-based economic development, an intentional focus on developing a sustainable technology workforce, and unique, world-class resources that make growing a startup here very attractive.”
Birmingham needs to find the balance between maintaining the strong startup activity we’ve seen develop over the last 5 years and not losing all the things that have made that growth possible – like affordability and community alignment. Many communities that have seen rapid growth in startup activity are losing (or have lost) some of the aspects that made it possible in the first place, which is why the entrepreneurs in those places are looking elsewhere – like Birmingham – for a more appealing option.”
Birmingham is on a roll
National recognition as an emerging tech hub by Barron’s follows last Spring’s visit by the AOL co-founder Steve Case Rise of the Rest tour. This summer, the city of Birmingham has also made some strategic investments in an effort to make the city a tech hub.
“In summary, across Birmingham, there is a growing sense that, despite our failings of the past, our future is bright and the sky is the limit for all stakeholders,” concluded UAB’s Jack.