Shipt Commits to Birmingham Expansion

Shipt founder Bill Smith announced his company’s expansion as Birmingham Mayor Randall Woodfin looks on. (Source: Solomon Crenshaw Jr.)

Shipt made its plans to expand in Birmingham and create up to 881 new jobs official Thursday after the Jefferson County Commission agreed to chip in up to $720,000 over three years in incentives.

“Birmingham has rolled out the red carpet,” Shipt founder Bill Smith said following a press conference in the company’s headquarters in the John Hand Building downtown. “The city and the county have said, ‘We want to partner with you to grow here.’ They’re working closely with us, and to get that kind of support is very attractive.”

The commission approved its incentives to encourage the company to create professional positions in Birmingham. The company also is eligible for up to $15.9 million in jobs and investment credits over 10 years under the Alabama Jobs Act.

As part of an overall economic development package, the city of Birmingham earlier this week committed as much as $1.7 million to support Shipt’s growth strategy through programs aimed at professional skill development, the hiring of local talent and attracting software engineers and data scientists.

Shipt, an Internet-based grocery delivery service that launched in Birmingham in 2014, intends to invest $10 million in the expansion. Company officials said the average annual pay for the jobs being created is $48,300.

Mayor Randall Woodfin during Thursday’s press conference said the company made a “full investment that they hire local talent. Over the next three years, this is the model for us to expand and be the hub for the entire tech spaces in the Southeast.”

Woodfin touted his “Putting People First Fund” to bolster the local work force, which he said “will enable our city to reach its full potential as a hub for diverse and qualified talent.”

The fund has three new programs: a Talent Investment Program to provide funding for companies to recruit high-demand occupations; the Talent Acceleration Program to connect low-skilled workers with money to learn new skills; and the Talent Optimization Program to encourage companies to hire local residents and partner with universities and other local entities to train mid-level managers.

“With these programs we have designed an innovative structure that helps Shipt recruit high-demand positions, launch company training programs to develop the skills of low-wage workers and entry-level employees and, importantly, hire local talent, especially graduates of the Innovate Birmingham Workforce program,” Woodfin said.

The City Council also this week approved the sale of the city-owned parking deck that is attached to the John Hand Building for $1 million to SPT Parking Deck LLC, a subsidiary of Shipt.

That money is being transferred to the new Community Revitalization Fund, established by Woodfin to address issues surrounding infrastructure and weed abatement in Birmingham’s neighborhoods.