Economy

Repairing Interstate 20/59

Interstate 20/59 through downtown Birmingham is aging and something needs to be done about it. Most people can agree on that. The Alabama Department of Transportation has a plan they could start implementing this fall, but there are opponents who say that plan is shortsighted and should be scrapped. We talk about it in this week’s Magic City Marketplace.

Food Stamp Fraud Investigation Means Fewer Places to Find Groceries

A federal investigation into food stamp fraud called operation T-Bone shuttered 11 stores across Jefferson County in June. The scam allegedly involved store operators buying food stamp debit cards from local customers and then using those cards to stock their own shelves with goods from wholesalers. The investigation turned up the heat on the alleged scam, but it also left many communities in Birmingham without anywhere to buy even the most basic groceries.

Google Building $600 Million Data Center in Alabama

Alabama Governor Robert Bentley says Google is planning to build a $600 million data center in northeast Alabama. Bentley said Wednesday that Google will build the data center on a 350 acre plot of land in Stevenson owned by the Tennessee Valley Authority. Stevenson is about 60 miles northeast of Huntsville.

Drummond Coal Won’t Renew Shepherd Bend Mine Permit

Drummond Company Inc., a global leader in coal production and one of the largest private companies in the U.S., has faced controversy ever since it received a permit to mine coal at Shepherd Bend, an area close to an intake for Birmingham’s drinking water supply. Many groups and consumers, worried about toxins and chemicals reaching the water, […]

Improving Birmingham’s Mass Transit

Mass transit is a point of frustration for many Birmingham boosters, who see the bus system as woefully under developed and underfunded. But with the World Games coming to Birmingham in 2021 and the city going after other tourism events, the public transit system gains new importance. We talk about it in this week’s Magic City Marketplace.

A Strong Year for Birmingham’s Private Companies

Many of Birmingham’s private companies had a great 2014 with sales up at the largest 100 companies a collective 77-percent. Two-thirds also added employees. Those numbers came from a Birmingham Business Journal survey and we talk about what sparked the increase in this week’s Magic City Marketplace. The newspaper’s editor Cindy Fisher Crawford tells WBHM’s Andrew Yeager about the reasons for these firms growth.

Zoos Aren’t Just About Animals Anymore

The Birmingham Zoo is preparing to spend $15 million of an overall $50 million renovation project. Those dollars will be spent on both animal exhibits and non-animal projects. In today’s contemporary world, zoos must wrestle with how best to spend their funds in order to fulfill their missions and draw more diverse folks, who enjoy and expect interactivity. Les Lovoy reports on how the Birmingham zoo is keeping up with current trends by striking a balance between animal conservation and education and offering an overall entertaining experience for visitors.

The Affordable Care Act and the Healthcare Business, Five Years Later

When the Affordable Care Act was signed into law five years ago, people expected it to dramatically change the healthcare landscape. So how has Birmingham -- the medical epicenter of Alabama -- fared? That’s where we start this week’s Magic City Marketplace. Birmingham Business Journal editor Cindy Fisher Crawford tells WBHM’s Rachel Lindley how the Affordable Care Act’s hit hospital’s bottom lines.

Athletics controversy could help image, experts say

Two years ago, UAB launched its first ever unified brand campaign for medicine and academics under the common tagline: UAB- Knowledge that will change your world. Now the university’s brand and reputation could get a boost from canceling three athletic programs and recently deciding to bring them back. “There’s no such thing as bad publicity […]

UAB Football’s Return Represents New Model But Challenges Remain

UAB football supporters cheered university president Ray Watts' decision Monday to reinstate the school’s football, bowling and rifle programs. He cut the teams in December citing costs. But Watts also had a message for those fans -- be ready to show significant support. That’s because football will depend on fundraising. Watts says the university will cap its support of athletics at $20 million dollars. Money to cover additional costs and new facilities will have to come from donors, business and the community. WBHM's Andrew Yeager spoke with Malcolm Moran. He’s the director of the Nation Sports Journalism Center at Indiana University.

The Decline of Bank Branches

Banking, like many industries, has seen technology-driven disruption. The latest victim of change is the neighborhood bank branch. With people writing fewer checks and many bank services available through a smart phone, demand for a brick-and-mortar building is dropping. We talk about that in this week’s Magic City Marketplace.

UAB Needs Ray Watts and Football

UAB President Ray Watts should announce by Monday whether the university will revive its football, bowling and rifle teams after shutting them down in December. Football backers have aimed a lot of anger at Watts with some calling for him to go. A few voices have said this was the correct, albeit painful move for an institution of higher learning. But one prominent alumnus says UAB needs both Watts and football. Alabama Media Group columnist John Archibald talks about that and case of business incentives he says shows bad citizenship on the part of an Alabama bank.

Kyle Whitmire Discusses UAB Football Future And The Legislative Session

The much anticipated College Sports Solutions’ report on University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) athletics is now public and the findings are somewhat ambiguous. In essence, it says UAB can control it’s own destiny. But the question remains should the university divert its football funding to running a championship-caliber basketball program, or beg and borrow […]

Community Involvement in a Possible Return of UAB Football

UAB President Ray Watts is expected announce by June first whether to bring back the university’s football, bowling and rifle programs. It’s a decision that many students and alumni have an interest in. The business community is watching too. We talk about it in this week’s Magic City Marketplace.

UAB and the Alabama System Board of Trustees

UAB football boosters are waiting on a June first deadline to hear whether school leaders will reinstate its football program. But university president Ray Watts’ decision to cut the football, rifle and bowling programs in December sparked a larger conversation about whether the University of Alabama System Board of Trustees exerts too much influence over the Birmingham campus. It may be an education matter, but the business community is weighing in too. We talk about it in this week's Magic City Marketplace with Cindy Fisher Crawford. We'll also hear about a wave of hotel development in Birmingham's city center.

A Good Economic Year for Birmingham but with a Caveat

The end of the school year is coming quickly and those final report cards will be here soon. Birmingham received an economic report card of sorts last week from the Birmingham Business Alliance. It’s where we start this week’s Magic City Marketplace. Birmingham Business Journal editor Cindy Fisher Crawford tells WBHM’s Andrew Yeager about the report from the BBA. It shows the metro area’s economy did better in 2014 than the year before.

Small Alabama Banks Move to Birmingham

Birmingham has seen some big names in banking from Wells Fargo to PNC to come into the city in the last decade. But it’s also attracting small banks from around Alabama who hope to gain a foothold in the city. We hear about that, changes to Medicare and a bike sharing program comes to Birmingham in this week’s Magic City Marketplace.

Golf Courses Struggle to Stay Above Par

Drive by a country club now that the weather is warmer and you’ll likely see people taking in a round of golf. However the number of people who choose to do that has been steadily dropping over the last 10 to 15 years. That’s forced a couple of Birmingham country clubs to close and the others to look to a new strategy. We hear about it in this week’s Magic City Marketplace.

Potential Changes to State Incentives

When it comes to attracting new or expanding businesses to Alabama, incentives are a tool state leaders say can make the difference. However, Alabama has been falling behind its southern neighbors when it comes to incentives. A bill in the legislature would make changes to that and we talk more from Birmingham Business Journal editor Cindy Fisher Crawford in this week’s Magic City Marketplace.

Urban Food Project Brings Fresh Produce To Corner Stores

For some who live in Birmingham, it is easy to get healthy food, especially if you have a car and can drive to a large grocery store. But if you are one of the 88,000 people living in one of Birmingham’s food deserts, getting quality food can be a real challenge. A local revitalization organization, REV Birmingham, is working to change that through an initiative called the Urban Food Project.

Women, Manufacturing and Job Opportunities in Alabama.

Picture a factory worker and you might imagine a gruff man, covered in dirt working the line. That's not the reality for manufacturing today, but the industry is male dominated. And with Alabama a manufacturing-heavy state, that affects opportunities for women. We talk about that in this week's Magic City Marketplace.

A Snapshot of the Convention and Event Businesss

Birmingham did not win the 2016 Democratic National Convention. Nor has it hosted an NCAA basketball tournament game in years. But players in Birmingham's tourism and convention industry are working to keep a steady stream of events through the city. We have a snapshot of that industry in this week's Magic City Marketplace.

Magic City Marketplace: A Long Time Coming

Much has been written about the investment and nightlife along Second Avenue North in Birmingham as a sign of the city center's rising fortune. But the area's comeback isn't just a post-recession story. And it's one economic development leaders hope isn't done. We talk about that in this week's Magic City Marketplace.

Magic City Marketplace: Hospitals Set to Merge

Hospitals around Birmingham are preparing for a major shift in the healthcare marketplace -- the proposed merger of Baptist Health System and Brookwood Medical Center. That deal could close as soon as next month and would combine two big players in Birmingham healthcare. Thats where we start in this week's Magic City Marketplace.

Magic City Marketplace: Birmingham Job Market

Birmingham's unemployment rate is at its lowest point since the recession and about 5,000 jobs were added last year. That's good news. But the shiny headlines are tempered by the fact that Birmingham job growth is slower than other southeastern cities. We talk about that in this week's Magic City Marketplace.

“Sam” To Bring Produce To Food Deserts

The economic development group REV Birmingham has turned a federal grant into a refrigerated truck meant to bring fresh produce to Birmingham's food deserts. The truck's name is Sam. WBHM's Joseph Thornton has the story.

Magic City Marketplace: Gay Marriage and the Workplace

It's now been one week since same-sex couples could get marriage licenses in Alabama. Most counties are now following a federal judges' ruling overturning the state's ban on gay marriage and the decision could also affect employers. We talk about that in this week's Magic City Marketplace.

Nick Patterson: Poverty Still A Problem In Booming Downtown Birmingham

Birmingham is in the midst of a revival, with increased economic and real estate development. But in a city where about thirty percent of the population lives in poverty -- that's nearly twice the national average -- the staff of the Birmingham weekly newspaper WELD say the shine of the city's revitalization can distract from some of its biggest problems. Since May, they've been exploring poverty in Birmingham. Nick Patterson, editor of WELD, joins Rachel Osier Lindley to talk about the city's poverty problem.

Magic City Marketplace: Free College Tuition

President Obama cast a spotlight on community colleges when he announced a plan last month to offer free at such institutions. It's a plan that could have significant effect on Alabama as the state tries to make its 2-year college system a bigger educational and economic player. We talk about it in this week's Magic City Marketplace.

Magic City Marketplace: The Future of the Historic Tax Credit

Some of downtown Birmingham's redevelopment projects have been helped along by Alabama's historic tax credit. But that credit is capped and will sunset next year. So developers and political leaders are debating what to do with this popular incentive. We hear more from Cindy Fisher Crawford in this week's Magic City Marketplace.

Developers Receive Approval For New Downtown Publix Designs, Permits

The Birmingham Design Review Board on Wednesday approved developers design plans and permits for a Publix grocery store downtown at 3rd Avenue South and 20th Street. The 35,000 square foot grocery and pharmacy will anchor a $20 million dollar development that will include three apartment buildings, retail stores, restaurants, and office space.

Interview: Alabama’s Growing Trade Relationship With China

The Chinese ambassador to the United States, Cui Tiankai, is visiting Birmingham this week as part of the Birmingham International Center’s 2015 spotlight on China. The Birmingham International Center highlights a different country each year. The goal this year is to improve ties between Alabama and China. Senior executives, business leaders, government officials and community […]