Category: Economy

Taxi Rates Increased to Offset High Gas Prices

The Birmingham City Council has approved an increase in taxi rates to offset rising fuel costs. The decision, which passed unanimously after a public hearing yielded no speakers, will add a $1 surcharge to every taxicab ride in the city through at least the end of the year. It’s the first time taxicab rates have been raised in a decade. Read more.

As More Dilapidated Structures Are Demolished, Jefferson Commissioners Discuss Ways to Redevelop the Properties

During its committee meeting Tuesday, the Jefferson County Commission applauded the demolition of public nuisance properties but expressed concern for blight that could follow.

Mike Thomas, building inspection services manager with the county’s Department of Developmental Services, presented a resolution for about 30 nuisance properties to be torn down. County Manager Cal Markert commended Thomas, who has 17 demolitions under bid already and another 30 in line.

“That’ll be 77 within 24 months,” Markert said, “so I’m superexcited.”

Said Thomas: “We’ve always been reactive, looking at when we have complaints. Now we’ve had the opportunity to go proactive and try to clean up some communities and make things better for the people who live there.

“What we want to do is make an impact. We don’t want to do one house here and one house there.” Read more.

Birmingham Sets Out Rules to Promote Historical Building Redevelopment

Birmingham has changed its zoning ordinance to encourage the reuse of historical structures throughout the city.

The changes, which were approved Tuesday by the City Council, will provide “incentives and exceptions that are intended to foster the reuse of historical properties and further the goal of maintaining historical character within the city,” said Chief Planner Tim Gambrel.

This will promote the conversion of “older, economically distressed, historically significant buildings” into apartments, live-work units or mixed-use developments while excepting them from zoning requirements that would require significant structural changes. Read more.

What Does a Successful Guaranteed Income Program Look Like? Jackson Might Have the Answer

After months of planning, several cities in the Gulf South are finally ready to give guaranteed income a test run.

Birmingham, New Orleans and Shreveport, Louisiana each received a $500,000 grant to pilot a guaranteed income — the idea that one of the best ways to help people in need is to give them regular cash payments without any strings. Participants for each city’s pilot have been selected and, in some cases, money has already been sent out.

Those unwilling to wait to see results from these roughly year-long pilots to can look to Jackson, Mississippi. For the past three years, Springboard to Opportunities, a local nonprofit, has been successfully running its own guaranteed income program focused on helping Black mothers living in affordable housing. Read more.

Jefferson County Commission to Consider Rescue Funds for Civic Center Authority, Visitors Bureau

Jimmie Stephens declared after today’s committee meeting of the Jefferson County Commission that there are activities and events aplenty in Birmingham, the county seat.

“There’s more to do in the city of Birmingham now than we ever had in the past,” the commission president said. “I was actually at the (USFL) ball game (Monday) night and the City Walk is beautiful. I am so excited of the opportunity that citizens are gonna have to be able to utilize that great new space.”

Stephens’ comments came after commissioners heard presentations from the Greater Birmingham Convention and Visitors Bureau and the Birmingham-Jefferson Civic Center Authority. Each received American Rescue Plan Act funds, as each has had to deal with shortfalls brought about by the pandemic. Read more.

States Look to Community Colleges to Fill Labor Gap

Monique Acosta began the month of March as a pre-K classroom assistant in Arizona, with no credential beside her high school degree.

She ended it with a certification in a booming branch of electronics and started applying to entry-level jobs at Boeing.

For four hours a day, over 10 days total, Acosta studied the fine art of stripping, cutting and crimping wire as part of a technical “boot camp” at Mesa Community College outside Phoenix. The program, created in partnership with Boeing and taught by company engineers, aims to rapidly upskill students into jobs that local employers need to fill.

Now — amid a labor shortage that has baffled businesses and slowed the nation’s economic rehabilitation — policymakers, community college administrators and private businesses in several states are fueling new workforce-oriented initiatives, from tuition incentives and paid apprenticeships to boot camps such as the one Acosta completed. Read more.

A Year Into Striking, Alabama Coal Miners Are Frustrated but Defiant as Ever

Coal mines are, unsurprisingly, a tough place to work. They’re dark and dirty and every breath brings in toxic chemicals.

And Brian Kelly wants to be back there.

“I love it,” Kelly said. “It’s paradise to me.”

Kelly fell in love with the mines because of the brotherhood he forged 2,000 feet underground. Over the past year, that bond has been tested. Friday marks one year since Kelly and 900 other coal miners went on strike in Brookwood.

The strikers demand that Warrior Met Coal, the company they’re striking against, restore the pay and benefits miners gave up in 2016 when the mines were in danger of shutting down.

As the months crawled on, the miners stuck with a slogan — “one day longer” — as in, they’re willing to hold out on this strike one day longer than Warrior Met Coal will. But a year without their old paychecks has caused a few workers to cross the picket line. The hundreds that remain still defiantly say “one day longer,” though they admit that it requires deep sacrifice and it’s building resentment. Read more.