Where do communities get money?
Often from successful business people.
So what Birmingham needs is more successful businesses so there will be more successful business people.
Take Bernie Marcus who along with his partner, Arthur Blank, founded Home Depot. Marcus donated $250 million dollars to build the Georgia Aquarium in Atlanta. He and his wife, Billi, were listed among the top charitable donors in the country.
Birmingham has its benefactors also.
George Barber, founder of Barber’s Dairy, has invested an estimated $80 million of his own money, excluding the contents of the museum, to build Barber Motor Sports Park and Museum here in Birmingham.* Barber Sports has had a major positive impact on local tourism and economic development…and given us a great deal of pride.
Don Logan, retired chairman of Time Warner and owner of the Birmingham Barons, bought Seek Publishing and moved it to Birmingham from Nashville. He also bought the Bass Anglers Sportsman Society, a fishing membership organization with more than a half a million members, and moved it here also.
When our local businesses do well, our community does well.
Successful business people give to charities and take major volunteer positions.
But our Birmingham region is lacking when it comes to holding onto large successful businesses.
A little over ten years ago we had thirty public companies headquartered here—now we have fifteen; we had six S&P 500 Companies—now we have one—Regions. Losing successful companies costs us jobs and growth.
We have too many competing governments in our region who steal from each other rather than recruit from elsewhere.
Better government means more prosperous businesses which means more George Barbers and Don Logans.
*Please note Barber Museum and Park is a 501(c)3 non-profit. Mr. Barber’s “investment” is a charitable contribution and he will receive no return on his investment. I’ve heard that this donation was the largest charitable contribution in the history of our state.
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David Sher is a partner in Buzz12 Relationship 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).