Economy

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.

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.