Economy

Birmingham Job Market Near Peak Employment

There's good news regarding the Birmingham job market. Since 2011, the city has added more than 30,000 jobs, just shy of the 45,000 needed for peak employment.

Strong Headwinds Against Wind Energy in Alabama

Drive through the Midwest or Great Plains and you may see expansive wind farms rising from the fields. That sight is not something you see in Alabama. Still there are those who see a place for wind energy in this state and we talk about it in this week’s Magic City Marketplace.

Cahaba Grand Sale Leaves Void for Large Events

Alabama’s largest church, the Church of the Highlands, purchased the Cahaba Grand Conference Center for $8 million earlier this year. As that facility along Highway 280 transitions from conference venue to house of worship, it’s causing ripples through the Birmingham area event space market. We talk about it in this week’s Magic City Marketplace.

Crowded Homeless Shelter Looking for New Home

The Firehouse Shelter serves thousands of homeless people in Birmingham like Johnson and has been a staple to the community since 1983. But they’ve outgrown their home on 3rd Ave North. and they’re working on moving to a bigger facility.

A Birmingham Business Mystery may be Revealed, Soon

A “good news” Birmingham business mystery may soon be revealed. The firearms business is booming. Changes in the industrial economy are impacting Alabama’s waterways and roadways. Ty West is Editor of the Birmingham Business Journal. He joins WBHM’s Scott Hanley to consider some of these latest stories in the Magic City Marketplace.

Alabama Organizers File Federal Lawsuit, Take Stand Against Wage Theft

A group of Alabama organizers filed a federal lawsuit last week on behalf of immigrant laborers who say their employers never paid them. The workers and their supporters gathered at the steps of the Hugo Black Courthouse in Birmingham Friday afternoon to celebrate the lawsuit.

The Potential for a New Round of Bank Mergers

Birmingham’s banking industry is not what it used to be. After major acquisitions in the 2000s and the Great Recession, Birmingham is left with two big banks: Regions and BBVA Compass, which was snapped up by a Spanish financial giant. While all that activity has died down, there’s chatter we could see a pick up in mergers and acquisitions among banks. We start there in this week’s Magic City Marketplace.

Birmingham’s Perceived Growth: What’s Real and What’s Not

The University of Alabama at Birmingham wants to expand its role as a statewide player in healthcare through the passage of the University Authority Act approved this spring by the Alabama Legislature. It allows the school's medical branch to join forces with other healthcare facilities around the state - especially in rural Alabama.

Birmingham Restaurants Face Worker Shortage

Birmingham’s food scene wins accolades from the around the country. It seems there’s always a new restaurant to try. But that success has created a new problem. There are not enough people to staff restaurant kitchens. We hear about that from Birmingham Business Journal editor Ty West in this week’s Magic City Marketplace.

Mosquito Control Businesses Expect Boost From Zika

With rising concerns about the Zika virus, mosquitoes have even more of a target on their backs than usual this summer. While the bugs spread the disease, the only cases of Zika in Alabama so far have been related to travel to infected areas. As residents try to protect themselves, one type of business is expecting to do well: mosquito control companies.

Increase of Private Funds for Medical Research Raises Ethical Concerns

Medical research is a notable part of the Birmingham economy and more and more funding for potential breakthroughs is coming from private dollars. That can open up ethical questions. We also talk about a planned technology festival in Birmingham and the effect of new federal overtime rules in this week's Magic City Marketplace.

WBHM’s “On The Line” Talk Show Tackles Uneven Birmingham Revival

Walk around downtown Birmingham and there’s an energy you wouldn’t have felt a few years ago. Residents are moving to new lofts and apartments. Restaurants and retailers are opening. People do yoga at Railroad Park or take in a ballgame at Region’s Field. They’re visible signs of a Birmingham revival. But that revival is uneven. Talk to some in neighborhoods away from Downtown and they’ll say "revival" doesn’t mean much to them. No fancy lofts, just abandoned homes and potholed roads that never seem to be fixed. And all this takes place against the backdrop of Birmingham’s racial history, with investment, by-and-large, coming from whites in a city that’s been majority black for a generation.

Birmingham Revitalization: City Investments at Work in West Birmingham

Birmingham’s western business district is one of the city’s oldest. At one time, a thriving community of working class families surrounded it. A shopping mall anchored the retail center, and businesses, large and small, lined Third Avenue West. Now, it's a different story. The area has been in decline for decades. In 2011, the city Birmingham spent $46 million on the Birmingham Metro CrossPlex sports facility in hopes of giving the area an economic boost.

Birmingham Revitalization: An Alternative Model from Cleveland

When a city neighborhood rebounds, it’s typically a story of investors buying cheap property, building and attracting new residents. That runs the risk of pushing out current residents who are often poor. This week as we explore Birmingham’s revitalization, we have at an example from Cleveland of an alternative model – worker cooperatives.

BJCTA Cancels Bus Service to Fairfield Over Significant Back Payment

Birmingham City Council members want to restore bus service to Fairfield following a vote this week by the Birmingham-Jefferson County Transit Authority to stop service to the area on June 1.

Birmingham Revitalization: The View from a City School

You could call schools the glue of a community. They're starting points for friendships and networks, and they affect property values and economic development. For our series on revitalization in Birmingham, WBHM's Dan Carsen returns to a redeveloping neighborhood to see how that's playing out in the local school.

Birmingham Revitalization: Struggling to Keep Homewood’s Rosedale Neighborhood

The neighborhood of Rosedale is easy to miss, quietly tucked at the base of Red Mountain on the edges of Homewood. For years, residents of the community have been fighting to keep its historic character, but the city is expanding and there is a constant threat of commercial development.

Birmingham Revitalization: Developers Spur Growth in Avondale, Downtown

Behind every new coffee shop and oyster house and once-vacant building is a real estate developer. The same goes for parks and condos and baseball fields. To understand how developers choose where to invest, we'll start in Avondale.

Birmingham Revitalization: Some Neighborhoods Feel Ignored by City Hall

When David VanWilliams moved to Birmingham, he was looking for a fixer-upper and fell in love with the neighborhood of Inglenook. Inglenook sits just north of the airport. Like its southern neighbors, Crestwood and Avondale, Inglenook has turn of the century brick bungalows and wide streets with sidewalks. But unlike those other neighborhoods, potholes mark the road and many houses are in disrepair. Residents don’t have the money to fix them.

Birmingham Revitalization: While Downtown Grows, Frustrated Citizens Feel Left Behind

By certain indicators, Birmingham is having a moment. Boosted by the openings of Railroad Park and Regions Field, downtown’s seen almost 40 percent residential growth since 2000. Construction cranes dot the skyline, historic buildings are being restored, and the city was recently named a top destination by Lonely Planet and the Travel Channel. Despite this, Birmingham’s revitalization has only touched part of the city, leaving many longtime residents feeling ignored.

Businesses Worry Birmingham’s Political Spat Could Hurt City’s Revival

Birmingham's city center has seen project after project pop up over the last five years or so. While the business community would love to see that continue, there's concern the acrimony right now between Birmingham Mayor William Bell and the city council could cut into the momentum. We talk about that in this week's Magic City Marketplace. Birmingham Business Journal editor Ty West explains to WBHM's Andrew Yeager what has business leaders worried.

Birmingham and “The Metropolitan Revolution”

Downtown Birmingham and some nearby neighborhoods are seeing an influx of new residents, mainly young professionals and retired baby boomers. It’s a national trend -- the Census Bureau reports millions of Americans have migrated from the suburbs to the cities since 2010. Experts like Bruce Katz,a Vice President of the Brookings Institution and co-author of “The Metropolitan Revolution: How Cities and Metros Are Fixing our Broken Politics and Fragile Economy," think this is a good thing. Katz believes cities like Birmingham are the new economic engines in post-recession America. Katz spoke with WBHM's Greg Bass about his visit to Birmingham last year, and the central idea behind what he calls “The Metropolitan Revolution.”

Deconstructing REV, Birmingham’s Economic Development Organization

What does REV Birmingham, the city's economic development organization, do? They describe themselves as a group "that stimulates business growth and improves quality of life in Birmingham." But WELD says that mission isn't clearly visible to Birmingham residents. Reporters from WELD took to Facebook to ask what their readers thought.

Small Banks Continue Move to Birmingham

Birmingham’s banking sector has seen smaller banks entering the market hoping to latch onto growth in the state’s biggest metro area. So far in 2016, that trend is not slowing. We start there in this week’s Magic City Marketplace. The Birmingham Business Journal's Ty West also explains how the healthcare community is reacting to a General Fund budget Alabama's Medicaid commissioner says is below what's needed to maintain services.

Eva Hardy Jones: Powell School’s Legendary Principal

Eva Hardy Jones became principal of Powell School in 1976. Around this time, the building was added to the National Register of Historic Places, but it and its students were in need.

Nevada Company Interested in Unfinished Alabama Nuclear Plant

A Nevada company says it wants to buy an unfinished nuclear power plant in northeast Alabama.

Congestion Not Likely to Improve Around Birmingham

Anyone who commutes along I-65 or U.S. 280 around Birmingham, knows those highways can get congested. But those are far from the only roadways feeling pressure. Backups are annoying and have real costs.Birmingham Birmingham Business Journal editor Ty West talks about that in this week’s Magic City Marketplace. He also explains why retail has been lagging in downtown Birmingham's revival.

MAP: Where Are Birmingham’s Vacant School Buildings?

WBHM's Mary Scott Hodgin recently reported on surplus property owned by Birmingham City Schools. Vacant schools are a common sight throughout Birmingham. The buildings symbolize decades of population decline and budget cuts. As Birmingham's city center and interest in historic properties grows, many hope these large structures will be revitalized. We've created a map showing where these empty schools are located. Take a look.

Federal Lawsuit Highlights Conflict Between State and Local Government

Alabama doesn’t have a minimum wage law. The state uses the federal rate of $7.25. Earlier this year, the Birmingham City Council tried to increase the city’s minimum wage, but we overridden by a bill Governor Robert Bentley signed into law inFebruary. The bill, originally flied by Mountain Brook Republican state Rep. David Faulkner, said only the state can set the minimum wage.

Birmingham Ranks Poorly on Long-Term Small Business Growth

Birmingham has a lot to offer young companies, but the city is lacking when it comes to sustaining small businesses in the long term. That’s according to a new study by American City Business Journals. They measured the nation’s largest metro areas for small business vitality, and Birmingham ranked 82nd out of more than 100 metro areas.

State’s Historic Tax Credit Expires this Month

From the Lyric Theater in downtown Birmingham to the Howell School in Dothan, a number of renovations have been supported by the state’s historic tax credit. It offered developers financial incentives to take on projects that might have come with big risks. But the bill to renew those tax credits has died this legislative session, and the tax will expire this month.

Birmingham Housing Market Tilts to Sellers

The housing market is cyclical as are so many things in business. After a housing-led recession and recovery, the Birmingham housing market is becoming a sellers market with far more demand than homes to go around. But the adage "location, location, location" still applies. Birmingham Business Journal editor Ty West explains in this week's Magic City Marketplace.