Birmingham Business Alliance serves region

Published 4:29 pm Tuesday, April 4, 2017

By JOYANNA LOVE/Senior Staff Writer

The Chilton County Chamber of Commerce members focused on economic development and business at its April 4 meeting.

Mark Brown of the Birmingham Business Alliance said the organization works with governments and industries in the seven-county region to serve as a resource for economic development through attracting new industries and expanding existing industries.

“When you look at economic development, it is a team sport,” Brown said.

Brown said it is all about information, resources and relationships.

There are five divisions within the Birmingham Business Alliance: economic development, public policy (workforce development), communications, business relations and administration.

“Our main goal is to support the local counties, cities, municipalities, economic development organizations in growing jobs,” Brown said.

This is done through marketing the region to companies looking for a new location as well as supporting the expansion of existing industry. The Alliance works with governments, utilities, industrial boards and other community leaders as a team to helping communities reach business growth goals.

In Chilton County, Brown said the airport, the hospital and the plans for an industrial park are elements that could bring growth for the county.

“There are a lot of success stories,” Brown said.

Important aspects are business capital, financial capital, venture capital, innovation and workforce.

Brown said a struggle in this region has been having large enough industrial sites with the level of infrastructure industries are wanting.

Another part of what the alliance does is talk to businesses about what their needs are in a facility and in a workforce. Brown said keeping existing businesses is vital to a local economy, but is often overlooked when creating an economic development plan.

Part of marketing the region, Brown said is working with a communications firm that gets “Birmingham success stories” to national media outlets. Brown said this “generates visits, not only from media but from businesses.”

“There are really three ways to create jobs: recruit it in, grow it from existing companies or create it with new startup companies,” Brown said.

He said 80 percent of new jobs are created through existing businesses. In a survey last year, 49 percent of businesses the alliance asked said they were growing.

Education and workforce training are the top two concerns of businesses.