Guaranteed income programs are coming to three cities in the Gulf South including Birmingham, which is set to launch soon. Read more.
U.S. Terri Sewell, D-Selma, visited Birmingham on Friday to tout improvements coming to the state and region under the $1 trillion Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act. The act will fund not only road and bridge work in the state, but it also will pay to provide broadband service statewide and improve water infrastructure in areas where residents do not have access to clean drinking water, according to a press release issued by her office. Read more.
On paper, families in need in the Gulf South have access to a lot more government aid this year, but it’s hard to say those families are better off when looking at the line of cars at the Saint Luke’s Food Pantry parking lot in Tupelo, Mississippi.
On a clear-skyed Thursday morning in December, drivers arrive more than an hour before the pantry opens. By the time food boxes start being handed out at 8 a.m., six rows of cars fill the small lot — with dozens more parked on the road waiting to get in. By noon, the pantry will serve 559 cars. That’s been the standard for 2021, according to volunteer Lee Stratton.
“They’ll be in the streets with the parking lot full probably for the next three hours,” Stratton said. “People need help, you know?”
The social safety net received some important upgrades in 2021 — SNAP benefits, better known as food stamps, went up about 25% in October; From July to December, the Child Tax Credit gave out monthly payments to families for each kid under 18; Mississippi also raised TANF for the first time in 22 years.
The increase in aid is especially important in Alabama, Louisiana and Mississippi, which have some of the highest poverty rates in the country. But experts warn the changes don’t do enough to remove barriers keeping people from accessing that aid. Read more.
An estimated 327,000 people across the country could see a pay increase under a new U.S. Department of Labor rule announced Monday. Starting Jan. 30, federal contractors will be required to pay workers a new $15-an-hour minimum wage. Labor Secretary Marty Walsh spoke about the policy during a trip to Birmingham. Read more.
The Jefferson County Commission announced Thursday the largest economic development project in the history of the region.
J.M. Smucker Co. will build a manufacturing facility in McCalla at the Jefferson Metropolitan Industrial Park to support its growing Smucker’s Uncrustables line. The $1.1 billion capital investment will bring 750 high-wage jobs to the community.
The development will be about 1½ miles from the Jefferson-Tuscaloosa counties line on old U.S. 11 between exits 100 and 104 of Interstate 20/59. Smucker’s project manager Brad Borkowski said excavation will begin Nov. 29, and the first sellable products are to roll out in May 2024.
The McCalla plant will be one of three the company has producing Uncrustables, a fruit and peanut butter pocket pastry.
“Smucker’s is coming to Jefferson County,” Commissioner Steve Ammons said in the announcement. “Now I can tell you it’s a sweet deal.” Read more.
Demolition has begun on the old Ensley High School and should be complete in about four months.
Redevelopment of the derelict property is aimed at making way for a 244-home mixed-used neighborhood at 2301 Avenue J for people earning between $16,000 and $45,000 annually.
“Neighborhood revitalization is our top priority,” Mayor Randall L. Woodfin said in a statement. “For many years, Ensley High School provided the educational foundation for this community. As the next steps are taken, this site will provide a new foundation for vibrant and livable space for our residents.” Read more.
About $17.5 million in federal emergency rental assistance reached Alabamians in jeopardy of losing their homes in October after a dip in distributions from August to September.
Through October, a total of $40.8 million from a possible $263 million in pandemic help made available earlier this year has been distributed, the Alabama Housing Finance Authority told Alabama Daily News.
The authority is charged with distributing the federal funding. The pace of those allocations has worried some lawmakers and advocates. Read more.
Birmingham this past weekend hosted the 80th Magic City Classic, the football game between Alabama State and Alabama A&M universities. Since 1946, it’s taken place at Legion Field, the nearly 100-year-old stadium that stands tall in the Graymont neighborhood.
Once revered as the “Football Capital of the South,” Legion Field has lost some of its luster in the past 15 years. Many of the games that once took place at the stadium have left. Now with the $200 million Protective Stadium downtown, some people aren’t sure what’s going to happen with Legion Field.
Jill Rogers, who has a lot of connections to the Smithfield area, said that Legion Field should remain in its place.
“I don’t think we should get rid of the Legion field completely, either build a new stadium or gut it out and do whatever’s cost-effective,” she said.
The city of Birmingham has budgeted more than $2 million to make capital improvements to Legion Field this year. Read more.
New data shows about $910 million meant to prevent evictions had yet to be used by the end of September in Mississippi, Alabama and Louisiana. Read more.
Wages have gone up as restaurants try to hold onto their staff amid a record number of people quitting their jobs in the U.S., especially in the South. Read more.