On Tuesday, February 2nd, the Birmingham Business Alliance (BBA) reported on their findings for the seven-county region over the past year. Despite the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, 2020 brought several promising developments to the Birmingham area. Here’s what we learned.
2021 BBA Chairman’s Meeting
Each year, the BBA hosts a Chairman’s Meeting to report on their findings over the past year. Although the circumstances of this year’s meeting were a bit different—over a Zoom call rather than in person—the BBA had very positive numbers to report on the past year.
“At the BBA, we have an open-door policy. I believe in transparency and accountability—in fact, in my last book I included my personal cell phone number and email because I believe you have to be connected to people to be responsive. You will continue to find that transparency at the BBA.”Ron Kitchens, President and CEO, Birmingham Business Alliance
Another highlight of Tuesday’s meeting was the introduction and installation of the new president and CEO of the BBA, Ron Kitchens. In addition to a 30-year career in economic development, Mr. Kitchens serves as Senior Partner and CEO of Southwest Michigan First, an economic development firm in Michigan. Click here to learn more about Ron Kitchens.
Here are the Highlights
35 New Projects with 1,240 Jobs, $518M in Capital Investments
In 2020, I remember being amazed by the seemingly-endless announcements of businesses developing new facilities in Birmingham. After seeing the BBA’s list of large-scale projects in the region last year, I’m even more amazed. In 2020, the BBA helped facilitate 35 big projects in the Birmingham area, including nine that were newcomers to the region.
Here are nine of the biggest:
- $15.8M Hyundai Mobis facility in McCalla
- Four Amazon facilities in the region:
- “Project Repeat” — $40M Lowe’s Distribution Hub in Bessemer
- $40M Carvana Dealership in Bessemer
- “Project Fish” — $40.6M FedEx Ground Center
- $75M Buffalo Rock Expansion
- Acclinate Genetics relocates to Denham Building
- Back Forty Brewing Company expands at Sloss Docks
- Motion Industries breaks ground on $11.2M Irondale facility
Aid for Small, Local Companies
Part of the BBA’s mission to cultivate a thriving, high-quality economy for the people of Birmingham includes support for small, local businesses. During the challenging time period of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, the BBA provided support to more than 700 local organizations. In addition, the BBA aided 119 companies through BHAMSTRONG, a public-private partnership that provided desperately-needed resources before the CARES Act took effect.
Promoting Birmingham to the World
In 2020, the BBA launched Onboard Birmingham as a resource for promoting the city to companies and entrepreneurs interested in learning more about the advantages of living and working in The Magic City. On the website, Onboard Birmingham features job opportunities, a cost of living calculator to compare against similar cities and much more.
What does the BBA have planned for 2021?
Despite the challenges of 2020, the BBA has helped put Birmingham on a productive track going forward. With the leadership of Ron Kitchens, the BBA has big plans for 2021, including:
- A focus on Minority, Women and Disadvantaged Business Enterprises.
- The Regional Economic Development Alliance of 50 economic development professionals and officials throughout the region.
- Partnering with the City of Birmingham on the Industrial Development Board, VITAL minority spending pledge and Business Advisory Services for “missing middle” companies.
“In 2020, Birmingham saw incredible progress—just look how many cranes are in the air. I’m trying to buy a house here, and I’ve never seen a market so tight. It’s an exciting, vibrant time to be in Birmingham.”Ron Kitchens, President and CEO, Birmingham Business Alliance