Tag: Economy

Turning Red Line Green: Virtual Conference Brings Attention to Underserved Areas

An organizer of a virtual gathering of bankers, regulators, developers and entrepreneurs acknowledged that redlining has been a deterrent to development in some communities.

But Irvin M. Henderson said Thursday’s event, sponsored by Birmingham community development corporation Urban Impact, was aimed at erasing that practice and creating a more fertile environment to improve communities that had been redlined.

“We know that there are neighborhoods, and Ensley and the downtown historic district are two of them, where there has been redlining,” Henderson said. “What this meeting is about is to work with the regulators and the bankers.”
Read more.

These companies took $1.8 billion in federal aid to save jobs. They laid off 90,000 workers anyway.

This article was originally published by the Center for Public Integrity, a nonprofit investigative news organization based in Washington, D.C.

Rosa Rodriguez spent eight years ironing and hanging bathrobes for guests at the Mirage, the Bellagio and other five-star hotels on the Las Vegas Strip. But as COVID-19 spread through the United States and kept tourists away, there were fewer and fewer robes for her to press.

In March, Rodriguez and about 800 of her co-workers were laid off from Brady Linen Services, a laundry service provider for hotels in Las Vegas, Mexico and the Bahamas. Rodriguez said her boss told her he would call her back when more work was available.

Brady Linen was approved for a loan of $4.6 million from the federal Paycheck Protection Program, according to data from the U.S. Small Business Administration. The government-backed loans were supposed to help small businesses that struggled during the pandemic pay employees’ salaries and benefits for up to six months, among other things. But Brady Linen did not use the money to rehire Rodriguez and all the other laid-off workers, which the program requires if companies want their loans forgiven.

It is just one among hundreds of companies that reported layoffs right before, or soon after, receiving a government loan through the Paycheck Protection Program, according to an analysis by Public Integrity. Read more.

Food Banks Struggle to Meet Increasing Demand During Holiday Season

As local families enter the holiday season, some are turning to food banks for the first time. The resulting higher demand has left some Birmingham-area food banks scrambling to keep food on the table for their clients.

Many face an uphill battle. Fewer donations, higher food prices and logistical issues are just some of the problems food banks have encountered since the start of the pandemic. Months later, those difficulties remain even as more people require food assistance.
Despite the food banks’ best efforts, sometimes it’s not enough.

“For the first time, this month we ran out of food before we could finish giving it to everyone who came by,” Ray Flynn, director of The Ministry Center at Green Springs, said last week. The center currently serves about 200 families a month. “The demand is getting greater, and the problem is getting larger,” he said. 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.

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.

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.