The Jefferson County Commission today approved a resolution to provide economic incentives for Bill Smith’s latest venture – Landing – but not before Lashunda Scales had her say.
The matter passed 3-1, with Scales casting the dissenting vote. Sheila Tyson was absent.
Scales expressed concern, saying she wanted to see what efforts the company will make to give priority to hiring residents of Jefferson County. Additionally, she said she is concerned that a long-term plan for the company was not presented even though the incentive plan covers six years.
The District 1 commissioner said that while the company currently arranges apartments for rentals, she is afraid the operation will go beyond apartment rentals.
“My concern is that you’re going to move into residential areas,” Scales said. “Therefore, those properties that can be purchased or acquired will at some point be utilized for the same purpose.”
Cori Fain, director of economic development for Landing, said the company’s business model is not to own the properties.
“We actually work with local property owners and managers in every city, including Birmingham, to make sure we’re driving these renters and these dollars to their own businesses,” she said, “whether they be single apartment building family businesses or larger property managers.”
Fain added that developing and using the tech talent in Birmingham is another of her concerns. “We’re really trying to make sure that we hire here first,” she said. “I think that’s something that Bill Smith, as a Birmingham guy, is really committed to. I myself have put that forth as a strategic for my work and for my department.”
Smith, a Birmingham native, founded Shipt before selling it. He is the founder of Landing. Tenants in Landing apartments typically reside there for three to six months. Fain said stays can range from two nights to multiple years.