Category: Economy

Work Begins to Take Down the Ramsay-McCormack Building, Façade Improvement Program Launched

Redevelopment on Ensley’s Ramsay-McCormack Building is finally underway, Mayor Randall Woodfin announced Thursday. The 10-story structure will be deconstructed and replaced with a five-story building constructed using salvaged materials from the original.

Woodfin’s announcement came the same day a city-run façade improvement pilot program was announced to target nine “priority redevelopment areas” in the city, including the Ensley Commercial Business District. Read more.

Tyson Will Be Nominated to the UAB Healthcare Authority

A year after she was passed over for a slot on the board of the UAB Healthcare Authority, Commissioner Sheila Tyson has been put on the path to being the commission’s nominee to the board.

It is, she said, about time.

“They know that they should (have) appointed me from the very beginning,” Tyson said after today’s commission committee meeting. “I think that they were scared that I was going to shake the trees, what they call ‘shake the bush.’ That’s what they were afraid of but I’m only one vote. Read more.

Protestors Not Allowed Into Birmingham Council Meeting to Speak on Drastic Cuts to the Library Budget

Protestors gathered outside Birmingham City Hall on Tuesday morning, but they weren’t allowed to speak at the City Council meeting going on three stories above them.

The demonstrators held signs that read “Reject Woodfin’s Budget,” “Furlough Woodfin” and “Fund Books Not Brutality.” One neon-yellow sign read: “Dear Randall Woodfin & City Council: Y’all have got to do a better job pretending to care …”

On Friday, the Birmingham Public Library’s board of trustees made the decision to furlough 157 employees, the result of significant cuts in the budget recommended by Mayor Randall Woodfin’s office. Read more.

Woodfin’s Revised Library Budget Lower Than Expected, With $3.6M Remaining Until June 30

The Birmingham Public Library now has its operating budget for fiscal year 2021 — and it’s much lower than expected, which means “tough decisions” lie ahead for the BPL board of trustees.

During Tuesday’s board meeting, trustees lamented the “moving target” they’d been given by Mayor Randall Woodfin’s office. The city’s overall budget has been greatly reduced as a result of reduced business tax revenue due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The library first had been allocated $12.8 million in Woodfin’s proposed FY 2021 budget, which was bumped up shortly afterward to $15.3 million, bringing it roughly even with its operating budget from this year. Then, board members said, their city attorney had given them a third number that was less than half of that — $7.039 million.

The real number, Woodfin told board members and city councilors during a “last-minute” informational call Wednesday, is even less than that. The library’s total budget in his recommendation for FY 2021 is $6.2 million, he said — and it’s spent $2.6 million of that since July.

“I want everybody to hear it at the same time,” Woodfin says in a recording of the call obtained by BirminghamWatch. “Your remaining budget you have from October 1 to June 30 is $3.6 million — not a dollar more.” Read more.

Auto Supplier Moving Into Industrial Park in McCalla, Creating 120 Jobs

Jefferson County commissioners learned during their committee meeting Tuesday that a new auto supplier is going to the Jefferson Metropolitan industrial park in McCalla, which is called JefMet and owned by the Jefferson County Economic and Industrial Development Authority.

Development attorney Warren Matthews of Burr Foreman joined representatives of Mobis US Alabama to seek tax abatements from the commission as the firm looks to add more than 120 jobs to JefMet McCalla. Mobis expects to spend nearly $16 million to establish the operation.

“Mercedes is transitioning a lot of their fleet to electric vehicles,” Matthews said. “They are going to be the front and rear axle manufacturers for those vehicles.” Read more.

The Loyalty Foundation and Partners Chip in Computers for Area Students

With an eye toward bridging the digital divide, The Loyalty Foundation joined forces with Jefferson County and other partners to provide computers to students in underserved communities in the region.

Fifty boxes with new computers were on display today in the County Commission chambers as the joint effort was announced. Commissioner Sheila Tyson is part of the effort, along with DC BLOX, an Atlanta-based data center provider in Birmingham’s Titusville Community. Read more.

Restaurants Are Hardest Hit as Businesses Try to Rebound from Pandemic

This past weekend, the city of Birmingham held its third “Eat in the Streets” event, cordoning off parts of downtown for outdoor restaurant seating. The event was designed to give a revenue boost to restaurants affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, which has diminished customer turnout and placed many restaurants, which operate on razor-thin margins, in danger of closing.

But for many Birmingham businesses, it’s already too late. Four months into the pandemic, many closures that owners hoped would be temporary are becoming permanent — consequences of an uncertain future and a tepid federal response.

One barometer of COVID-19’s impact on local economies is the consumer website Yelp, which last month reported 132,580 business closures across the country since March 1. A steadily growing percentage of those closures — 55%, or 72,842, as of July 10 — are expected to be permanent.

Restaurants are the most affected, Yelp found, with 15,770 permanent closures nationwide. The shopping and retail sector has experienced 12,454 permanent closures, while the beauty industry has seen 4,897. More than 2,400 bars and nightclubs, meanwhile, have shuttered for good since March 1.
Read more.

A Year in the Life of a Dying Alabama Mall

A generation ago the mall was THE place to be. But with the rise of online shopping, many indoor malls have suffered. A documentary playing at the Sidewalk Film Festival later this month looks at one dying mall here in Alabama. It’s called “Jasper Mall” and is named for the shopping center in Walker County, northwest of Birmingham. Read more.

Alabama Is in ‘Survival Mode’ Says University of Alabama Economist

Every sector in Alabama’s economy is shrinking this year because of the pandemic. That’s according to Samuel Addy, senior research economist and associate dean for economic development outreach at the University of Alabama.

During a press conference Thursday, Addy joined Democrat Sen. Doug Jones to talk about Alabama’s economy, which they both agreed is in ‘survival mode.’

“All the help coming from D.C., the bills that the senator and others are working on, are not stimulus bills. They are actions and investments for survival,” Addy said. “We know that we are in a worse situation than a few months ago. We need to invest for survival because if we don’t survive, nothing matters.” Read more.