Economy

Priming the Pipeline for STEM in the South: Student Incentives in Alabama

Given thousands of related job openings but only hundreds of computer science college graduates, Alabama is trying to ramp up its computer science education. That includes a new policy allowing those classes to count toward core math graduation requirements. WBHM's Dan Carsen concludes the Southern Education Desk series "Priming the Pipeline for STEM in the South" with a visit to a Birmingham-area class that's leading the way.

First U.S. Factory OK’d For Cuba Aims To Plow A Path Into 21st Century

Two businessmen — one of whom was born in Cuba — have been granted permission to build the first U.S. factory on the island nation since 1960. They plan to produce small tractors for Cuban farmers.

Birmingham City Council Strikes Back Over Minimum Wage Bill

The Birmingham City Council is once again trying move up the effective date of its minimum wage increase. This is in response to the fast tracked steps the State Legislature is taking to block this action. The council could vote to move up the effective date from March 1 to Wednesday, February 24. Republican Representative […]

Business Community Watching Bills in the Alabama Legislature

With the Alabama legislative session in full swing, the business community has a number of bills they’re watching closely. These bills could have a significant effect on companies around Birmingham. We highlight a few of them in this week's Magic City Marketplace.

Infamous West End Property Set for Demolition

A blighted property in West End that city officials say has been a scar on that area for too long is being demolished. Birmingham city leaders announced today that demolition of Larkway Gardens begins tomorrow morning, Wednesday, February 17, at 9 a.m. following asbestos removal. In an interview with WBHM last year, Councilwoman Sheila Tyson […]

Why this Coal Industry Downturn may be Different

Alabama’s coal industry has faced its ups and downs through the decades. It’s clearly down now. Walter Energy, for instance, is embroiled in bankruptcy. While the industry has bounced back before, this time might be different. That’s where we start this week’s Magic City Marketplace.


Alabama in Need of Road Repairs to Spur Economic Development

A report out this week from a Washington think tank outlines the top transportation maintenance projects it says are needed to improve economic growth in Alabama.

Blueprint Birmingham and Beyond

More than five years after the Birmingham Business Alliance launched Blueprint Birmingham, the BBA is working towards a new strategic plan, called Blueprint 20/20. For more on this and other stories, WBHM's Rachel Osier Lindley spoke to Nick Patterson, editor of the weekly newspaper WELD. Patterson joins WBHM most Thursdays during All Things Considered.

The Low Price and High Cost of Heroin

Heroin overdose deaths are on the rise nationally. In Jefferson County, deaths increased by more than 140 percent in 2014. The numbers were shocking: Heroin caused or contributed to 144 deaths in 2014. Area law enforcement responded by increasing efforts to get traffickers and drugs off the streets, especially in Birmingham.

Alabama’s Aging Infrastructure

Many economic development groups in Alabama consider infrastructure such as roads, bridges and railways essential for spurring growth and jobs. But when it comes to assessments of the state’s infrastructure, Alabama scores poorly. That’s where we start the conversation in this week’s Magic City Marketplace.

Losing History in One of Birmingham’s Oldest Neighborhoods

Birmingham city leaders are stepping up efforts to deal with dilapidated  or abandoned properties. In communities overshadowed by blight, preservation is rarely an option, since resources are devoted to cleaning up and demolishing hazardous properties. In these neighborhoods, residents want to document the past before it’s destroyed. A Crumbling History Andre Brown drives a blue […]

A College Football Edition of Magic City Marketplace

University of Alabama fans are pulling for a win in tonight’s national college football championship game in Phoenix. Meanwhile, Auburn University finished its season much closer to home in the Birmingham Bowl last month. This year’s bowl game drew almost 60,000 to Legion Field. That’s something city leaders cheered, but they also put a lot of money into the game. We talk about that this week’s Magic City Marketplace.

What’s Next For “It’s Nice to Have You in Birmingham” Trademark Debate?

The future of "It's Nice to Have You in Birmingham" is still up in the air. Last year, local design studio Yellowhammer Creative filed a trademark application for the phrase. They've used it on murals and t-shirts, and argue it's become synonymous with their brand. But three parties are petitioning Yellowhammer's application with the United States Patent and Trademark Office.

Concerned Workers Face Dwindling Industry And Layoffs With A Steely Resolve

Laid off steelworker Siegfried Powell hefts cardboard boxes from a food pantry set up by his local United Steelworkers Union in Birmingham, Ala. “Come on, sweetheart. Grab you a bag of potatoes,” Powell says as he takes a load of groceries to the car for a family trying to stretch unemployment benefits. About 1,100 people […]

What to Watch for in 2016 Birmingham Business

With 2015 in the books, a new year lies ahead with hopes and possibilities. To kick off another year of Magic City Marketplace, Birmingham Business Journal editor Cindy Fisher Crawford explains what to watch for in 2016 as it relates to Alabama’s business community.

What Will 2017 Bring for Birmingham’s Economy?

We talk about what is expected in the Birmingham area economy in this week's Magic City Marketplace.

Uber Up and Running in Birmingham

Ride hailing services are set to begin operating in Birmingham this afternoon. Uber has confirmed that users should be able to hail rides from their smartphones beginning at 4 p.m. Ride-hailing services such as Uber and Lyft let people use smartphone apps to book and pay for rides.

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.