Economy

Those Economic Impact Studies Don’t Always Add Up

We hear politicians touting economic impact numbers for football games, proposed stadiums or a new factory. But those numbers may not match what happens in reality.

Birmingham’s Forgotten Innovation District

Drive along First Avenue North, just on the other side of the railroad tracks from Regions Field downtown, and you might notice Innovation Depot. This is a business incubator that’s done a lot in recent years to spur entrepreneurship in Birmingham. But it’s actually part of a larger innovation district. Most people haven't heard of Birmingham's innovation district, but some city boosters say it is finally ready to take off. We talk about that in this week’s Magic City Marketplace.

Where Birmingham’s Business Community Sends its Campaign Cash

Alabama has seen at least seven presidential candidates make stops in the state. Much of the credit for raising Alabama’s profile on the campaign trail is given to the fact the state banned together with other southern states to hold their primaries on March 1st. It's been dubbed the SEC primary. While candidates are seeing votes, they’re also seeking donors. That’s where we start in this week’s Magic City Marketplace.

JeffCo Residents Left Paying Bill on Billion Dollar Utility Scandal

Another Alabama lawmaker uses social media as a political podium, this time encouraging his followers to buy more guns, a settlement regarding a major banking institution may have a lasting and negative impact on Jefferson County residents and is Kyle Whitmire the Archie Bunker of the new millennium? The answer in this week’s conversation with […]

UAB Student, Iraq Vet Hopes to Help Feed Black Belt with Aquaponics

Ramon Jeter was raised by a single mother on the west side of Birmingham. Right out of Ramsay High School he joined the Navy. He eventually served as a field medic in Iraq. Now the married new father is studying public health at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, and he’s been accepted to Clinton […]

Uncertain Future for State’s Historic Building Tax Credit

It’s a busy day inside the McWane Science Center downtown. Kids play around a brightly colored Rube Goldberg machine in the center’s pristine lobby. But look out the window across Second Avenue North, and there's something very different: the eight-story building that once housed the Pizitz department store, closed now for almost 30 years. Windows are missing, and the façade shows 92 years’ worth of cracks and stains. You’ll also see construction crews working to rejuvenate the building.

Condoleezza Rice, Gov. Bentley and Others Welcome Japanese Business Leaders to Birmingham

Japanese business leaders met Monday at the historic Alabama Theater in Birmingham with delegates from a handful of southern states for a conference aimed at strengthening cultural ties and expanding commercial opportunities.

Potential Threats to Alabama’s Automotive Industry

Alabama leaders love to tout the state’s automotive industry. What started with the Mercedes plant in Tuscaloosa County in the mid-1990s now includes Honda and Hyundai plants plus numerous suppliers. While the auto industry has increasingly moved to the Deep South, Alabama’s success could be threatened by a place further south. We talk about it in this week’s Magic City Marketplace.

Blueprint Birmingham After Five Years

Five years ago this fall, the economic development group Birmingham Business Alliance announced Blueprint Birmingham. With a big marketing push it was hailed as five-year strategic plan that would change a region that so often lags behind. With that time frame over we talk about what the plan did in this week’s Magic City Marketplace.

The Financial Confidence Gap

Surveys show women make the majority of purchasing decisions in any given household. But when it comes to confidence with money, they trail men. We talk about that in this week’s Magic City Marketplace. Birmingham Business Journal editor Cindy Fisher Crawford tells WBHM’s Andrew Yeager about this Vanderbilt University study and what it reveals about a financial confidence gap.

A Potential Change for Credit Unions has Banks Unhappy

One winner in the recovery since the Great Recession has been credit unions. They’ve seen growth in membership and lending activity. And that’s put them at odds with those who traditionally handle services like this – banks. We hear about it in this week’s Magic City Marketplace. Birmingham Business Journal editor Cindy Fisher Crawford tells WBHM’s Andrew Yeager about what drove that growth for credit unions.

Reopening VictoryLand

Alabama casino developer Milton McGregor won a legal victory earlier this month which appears to put to rest a five-year court battle over his Macon County casino VictoryLand. A judge said the state had no grounds to seize thousands of electronic bingo machines from VictoryLand. So McGregor is working to reopen the facility. We talk about it in this week’s Magic City Marketplace.

Changing Gears with the Launch of Bikeshare in Birmingham

Kiosks have been popping up in parking spots around Birmingham. These 40 stations will hold 400 bikes. They're part of Zyp BikeShare, which starts tomorrow. Cycling has devotees in the Magic City, but plenty still see it as a risky way to travel. Cycling enthusiasts hope more bikes on the road will change attitudes.

Alabama’s Film Tax Credits Face Some Skepticism and Critique

Most states offer tax incentives meant to attract film production-create jobs and stimulate the economy. As budgets tighten, some are scaling back or eliminating them. But even after recent heated budget battles, cash-strapped Alabama is keeping those tax credits, prompting some to question their effect on the fiscal bottom line.

Alabama Launchpad

Let’s say you have a great business idea. That’s a good start but it takes funding to get the idea off the ground. One of the ways Alabama entrepreneurs have been receiving funding for their ventures is the Alabama Launchpad competition. We talk about it in this week's Magic City Marketplace.

Birmingham Woman Shares Her Story From Struggle To Success With National Leaders

“Everything has changed for the better for us. I’m excited because there is still more to come. We can only go up from here.” Monique Jones

Trinity Medical Center Moving and Taking on a New Name

This weekend Trinity Medical Center will become Grandview Medical Center as it moves from Birmingham’s east side to the busy Highway 280 corridor. It’s a move that’s been more than 10 years in the making and one that developers expect to bear fruit beyond just a new hospital. We talk about it in this week’s Magic City Marketplace.

The Future of U.S. Steel

What remains of Birmingham’s steel industry took a major hit this summer when U.S. Steel announced it would be idling its blast furnace in Fairfield. About 1,100 workers were laid off. Thousands of more workers have lost jobs there through the decades, but U.S. Steel is trying to stay ahead in a very competitive economy. That’s where we start this week’s Magic City Marketplace.

Alabama Auto Workers Say “Yes” to Joining Union

The United Auto Workers Union scored a major victory Wednesday in Piedmont, Alabama where workers at truck seat manufacturer CVG voted in favor of joining the union. The company says it has been responsive to employee concerns, and invested millions to improve working conditions. But that wasn’t enough.

Daughters and the CEO

Women make up half the world, but men still dominate in the business world. That's particularly true when it comes to executive positions. While women certainly have made progress, one factor in their efforts may be unexpected -- the daughters of executives. We explain in this week’s Magic City Marketplace.

A New Leader for the University of Alabama System

The University of Alabama System Board of Trustees is set to vote this month on a new leader for the three-campus system. Chancellor Robert Witt announced recently he’ll retire next August. He’s recommended current vice chancellor of finance and operations Ray Hayes for the job. We talk about what that next chancellor faces in this week's Magic City Marketplace.

New Publix Distribution Center to be Built in Jefferson County

The Florida-based grocery store chain Publix moved into the Birmingham market 13 years ago and now the company appears ready to make an investment beyond just stores. Jefferson County political leaders say Publix will build a $34 million distribution center in western Jefferson County. We talk about that in this week’s Magic City Marketplace.

Gay Marriage’s Legal Ripples

The U.S. Supreme Court’s decision earlier this summer upholding same-sex marriage seems simple enough, but the ruling prompts a wave of new legal questions. Those questions could keep lawyers busy for some time. We talk about some of those questions in this week’s Magic City Marketplace.

A Tale of Two Pay Raises

Some workers in Birmingham will see their paychecks rise in the coming years. The Birmingham City Council on Tuesday passed a minimum wage ordinance for the city, meaning the minimum wage will rise incrementally to $10.10 an hour by July 2017. While advocates for the poor welcome that news, it comes with a dose of deceit according to Alabama Media Group columnist John Archibald.

Alabama Media Group Cuts Staff in Birmingham, Huntsville, and Moblie

The Alabama Media Group is laying off at least 15 people total at its three main hubs in Birmingham, Huntsville and Mobile. The company announced the cutbacks Tuesday.

U.S. Steel Announces Closure of Fairfield Works

In Birmingham, it’s the end of an era. The city was founded and fueled by the steel industry. But U.S. Steel announced Monday it would close its Fairfield Works mill just west of the city leaving about 1,100 workers without jobs. It’s a noteworthy passing for a city that still identifies with an industry now found mostly in historic pictures.

Sports Medicine, Physical Therapy Business Booming in Birmingham

Birmingham's becoming a hub for sports medicine, and as more clinics open, providers of orthopedics and physical therapy are competing for their piece of the market. Providers are also buying real estate, creating jobs. That's where we start this week's Magic City Marketplace. Cindy Fisher Crawford is the editor of the Birmingham Business Journal.

Alabama Drivers Are Filling Up On Cheap Gas

Motorists everywhere are noticing: Gasoline prices are dropping again. Some experts expect them to keep falling — down to perhaps $2 by winter. But in Alabama, gas prices are nearly that low already.

Birmingham Companies Starting to Spend their Piles of Cash

After the recession many American companies were holding onto tons of cash. Birmingham companies were no different. But even with an improving economy, those reserves at Birmingham firms are still growing. We talk about it with Birmingham Business Journal editor Cindy Crawford in this week’s Magic City Marketplace.

The Thorny Issues of Alabama’s Black Belt

Alabama's Black Belt historically held the state's wealth. But now that cotton is no longer king, it's one of the most impoverished regions of the country. The Black Belt has beautiful antebellum homes, but those homes were built thanks to slavery. The contrast shapes how Alabama Media Group columnist John Archibald thinks about that part of the state. He's traveling Alabama this month and spent time recently in the Black Belt.

Birmingham Financial Planners Try To Woo Millennials

There are more than 80 million of them, and one day they could be very rich. They're the Millennials, people born between 1980 and 1999. And while they're still early in their careers, the Birmingham Business Journal's Cindy Fisher Crawford says financial planners are trying to secure their business early. In the process, they're learning some surprising things about millennials money habits.

Growing Tech Startups Beyond Innovation Depot

Birmingham's Innovation Depot houses almost 100 startup businesses, and has an economic impact of more than $1.3 billion. But as these startups get ready to graduate from this business incubator, they're struggling to decide where to office next. We talk about it in this week's Magic City Marketplace. Birmingham Business Journal editor Cindy Fisher Crawford tells WBHM's Rachel Osier Lindley about how Innovation Depot helps grow business in the city.