Category: Economy

Birmingham Bringing Back Up to 132 of Its Furloughed Employees

The Birmingham City Council has approved a plan to bring up to 132 furloughed city employees — mostly from the Birmingham Public Library and the city parks department — back to work.

The workers were furloughed in September due to budget cuts necessitated by COVID-19’s impact on city revenue.

The plan, described as a compromise between mayor and council, will be funded by $4.85 million borrowed from the city’s general fund reserve. That’s far less than the $7 million requested in Woodfin’s initial plan, which would also have restored two paid holidays for city employees and reversed some salary reductions to appointed staff. Read more.

Economy Shows Signs of Revival, New Opportunities in the Midst of COVID-19

There is sadness and economic disappointment in Alabama associated with the 2020 COVID-19 outbreak, but some indicators are pointing to signs of revival, at least on the economic front.

Total nonfarm payroll in metro Birmingham-Hoover indicates about 27,000 fewer workers employed in 2020 than had jobs in 2019, with 520,800 workers having jobs this year, according to government statistics.

But overall, unemployment numbers have dropped for Alabama in recent months. According to Alabama Department of Labor statistics, the latest official unemployment rate for Alabama is 5.6%. That unemployment data has improved since August, when it was reported as 7.9%. As a comparison, U.S. unemployment data shows a current rate of 8.4%, down from 10.2% last month. Read more.

Birmingham Council Approves Incentives Package to Bring Grocery Store to District 1

The Birmingham City Council has approved an incentives package to bring a new grocery store to the city’s Roebuck neighborhood as part of a larger initiative to reduce food deserts in Birmingham.

The agreement will include an initial payment of $200,000, then up to an additional $1.6 million, based on the store’s performance, spread out over seven years.

The store, tentatively named The Price Butcher, will be at 1125 Huffman Road, the former location of a Sav-A-Lot, and will “double the amount of fresh produce in the area (and) double the sales area for meat,” Josh Carpenter, the city’s director of innovation and economic opportunity, told the council during a Monday night committee meeting. “It’s going to expand the food options for the citizens of District 1.” Read more.

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.