Today, Jefferson County took a big step toward regional cooperation with the signing of the “Good Neighbor” Pledge by 22 of the county’s mayors.
The historic pact commits local municipalities to combat poaching between cities and to pursue long-term economic growth for the region.
Mayors who signed the “Good Neighbor Pledge” represent the cities of Argo, Bessemer, Birmingham, Brighton, Center Point, Clay, Fairfield, Graysville, Homewood, Hoover, Lipscomb, Midfield, Mountain Brook, Mulga, Pleasant Grove, Sylvan Springs, Tarrant, Trafford, Trussville, Vestavia Hills, Warrior and West Jefferson.
As part of the agreement, the mayors pledge they will not lure businesses away from other cities. They also agree they will not provide incentives for businesses relocating from one city to another.
“This is a historic achievement,” said Center Point Mayor Tom Henderson, who is president of the Jefferson County Mayors Association and served on the committee that drafted the pledge. “Our conversations leading up to this moment are already having an impact on the way business is being done in Jefferson County. Moving forward, we really believe this pact will lay a better foundation for the future of our county, each of our cities, and our children and grandchildren.”
The agreement stemmed from conversations that occurred within the Jefferson County Mayors Association over the past year. The conversations were facilitated by the Community Foundation of Greater Birmingham, as part of its effort to foster more regional cooperation and job growth in Jefferson County.
Mayors believe the new economic development pledge will provide an opportunity to address both.
“We are pledging to treat our neighbors the way we would like to be treated,” added Trussville Mayor Buddy Choat at the news conference that was held at the Jefferson County Commission Chambers. “By moving in this direction, we are going to be better neighbors. We are going to attract more businesses to our area. That’s the key. We want all our cities to prosper.”
The agreement is modeled on similar no-poaching agreements in other parts of the country. It marks Jefferson County mayors’ first attempt to create a shared vision and shared standards of conduct regarding business relocations and recruitment within the county.
“When one of us gains a business at the expense of one of our neighbors, we’re not creating new jobs or expanding opportunity in the county,” Birmingham Mayor Randall Woodfin said. “What really serves our citizens is attracting new businesses and helping our existing businesses thrive and expand — accomplishments that create real growth and will ultimately benefit us all.”
Hoover Mayor Frank Brocato added:
“In the past, our cities tended to compete rather than cooperate,” said Hoover Mayor Frank Brocato. “Today, economic development favors metro areas that work together better as a region. While businesses can still choose to relocate in our county, this group of mayors has committed that we won’t try to initiate those moves, and we will focus on a more comprehensive strategy for growth.”
Mayors say their first obligation is to serve their own cities and citizens, and they believe the pledge will help them to protect their communities and create more jobs to provide opportunity for residents now and into the future.
Jefferson County Commissioner Steve Ammons, who worked with the committee to draft the agreement, praised mayors for their leadership and vision for the future.
“Other metro areas in the U.S. have experienced considerable success by working to rein in internal competition and focus on collective growth,” Commissioner Ammons said. “Our mayors recognized they could get better results by focusing on true economic gains rather than fighting each other for what’s already here. Their efforts will not only pay dividends for their constituents but for generations to come.”