Birmingham has always been known as a “steel” town. Now we should be known as the “steal” town.
While our peer cities are recruiting companies from other regions, we steal businesses from each another.
According to a 2011 article in the Birmingham News, “At least $125 million has been spent by municipalities in the metro area to take businesses from one municipality in the Birmingham metro to move to another.
Remember when Irondale swooped into town to steal car dealerships from Birmingham?
Other examples include:
- $55 million by the City of Birmingham to draw Trinity Medical Center away from Irondale
- $11 million by Birmingham to lure Wal-Mart from Irondale
- $2.5 million by Moody and St. Clair County to move Red Diamond from Birmingham and Jefferson County
- $500,000 by Birmingham to entice Gus Mayer from Homewood
And in August of 2011, the City of Moody gave incentives to Indie Candy to move from Crestline Village in Mt. Brook to Moody.
Our Chamber of Commerce (now BBA) has taken several trips to other cities to learn best practices. We learned that St. Louis (City) is not located in St. Louis County and for many years they stole companies from each other. They finally got their act together and agreed not to pilfer from one another.
The municipalities around Denver actually signed a non-compete agreement called the Mile High Pact to stop municipalities from stealing businesses.
Jennings Marshall, an economics professor at Samford University, was quoted in the Birmingham News in December of 2011, “Whenever you allow different government agencies to compete against each other with tax breaks, in the long run, the overall taxpayer is damaged by it.”
Not only are we as tax payers damaged, but that money is not being used to recruit new businesses to our area.
Waste of tax payer dollars; no new businesses and jobs; sounds like a really bad deal. But that describes our Birmingham region.
David Sher’s goal is to create a conversation on how to fix our fragmented and dysfunctional local government.
David Sher is a partner in Buzz12 Content Marketing and co-CEO of AmSher Receivables Management. He’s past Chairman of the Birmingham Regional Chamber of Commerce (BBA), Operation New Birmingham (ONB), and the City Action Partnership (CAP).