Alabama’s Workforce Superhighway

Alabama’s workforce programs have undergone several changes in the past couple years and to say that this has caused some confusion would be a huge understatement! I liken it to the 1956 Federal-Aid Highway Act, which created the beginnings of the Interstate system that focused on building a system of connected roads that would funnel traffic from smaller roads into safer, more efficient “Super Highways.”

When we look at workforce development in Alabama over the last 50 years, we’ve been a mishmash of programs or smaller roads all leading to the same goal but having to travel those roads on a wildly divergent path. In a few words I’d like to clear up the confusion and untie the knot related to the programs housed within the Alabama Department of Commerce.

Mixtroz’s Schrader and Ammons give five tips for becoming an entrepreneur

Kerry Schrader and Ashlee Ammons – the dynamic mother-daughter duo behind Birmingham startup Mixtroz – were both veterans in their respective careers when they started their company in 2014.

Schrader was a senior level human resources executive and Ammons was working as an event producer for celebrities like Oprah Winfrey, Leonardo DiCaprio and Jay-Z. They took a gamble on themselves and their idea, which hatched after they had attended one too many awkward networking events to build an app that connects people at live events.

Collaboration, tech partnerships encouraged between Alabama, Israeli businesses

Israel is at the forefront of cutting-edge technology, and there is ample opportunity for Alabama and Birmingham businesses to join forces with entrepreneurs from the country to collaborate.

That’s according to a robust group of speakers at “Doing Business with Israel: Opportunities for Alabama-Israel Technology Partnerships,” an event held this week at Alabama Power Co. and sponsored by the Birmingham Business Alliance (BBA), Conexx, the Israel-U.S. Binational Industrial Research and Development (BIRD) Foundation and Alabama Power Co.

Innovation and technology: Birmingham’s Immediate seeks to improve the financial health of millions

Sobering numbers tell the story of the problem Birmingham startup Immediate is looking to alleviate – 46 percent of Americans have less than $400 in savings, and 78 percent live paycheck to paycheck. Because of this, there is $1 trillion in credit card debt in the U.S. and often biweekly pay periods for workers, leading to a dependence on alternative lending sources like payday loans and cycles of debt.

Birmingham region hits pre-recession jobs peak

The Birmingham region’s workforce grew 2.4 percent, year-over-year, to reach 545,900 in April, according to the latest data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

That growth ranked Birmingham third among its 14 peer metros in April, only behind Nashville (3.9 percent) and Charlotte (3.1 percent) and tied with Huntsville (2.4 percent). Employment in the region also grew year-over-year in May by 1.8 percent, ranking it No. 7 among its peers for year-over-year percentage growth.

Now, with a regional workforce of 545,900 workers and 547,400 jobs, Birmingham has fully emerged from the recession surpassing its pre-recession peak of 543,000 jobs in December 2007.

“We finally emerged from the recession in the first half of the year, climbing above the pre-recession peak of 543,000 jobs in December 2007,” said Fred McCallum, interim CEO for the Birmingham Business Alliance. “Since June 2011, the Birmingham region has experienced positive year-over-year net employment growth. While good, we need to find ways to accelerate the speed of growth relative to our peers, like Charlotte, which saw the highest job growth in May at 2.5 percent.”

McCallum pointed to a number of current initiatives the BBA is working on to accelerate the region’s growth, including:

  • The recent launch of the Birmingham BizHub, an interactive website developed to help entrepreneurs and small business owners navigate and understand local resources.

  • A recent bioscience trade mission trip to Ireland, from which the BBA team will formalize relationships and partnerships with companies and entities they met during the mission.

  • The Magic City Summer internship program, a talent attraction initiative that has enrolled more than 200 interns working in Birmingham this summer, connecting them to Birmingham’s culture, community and influencers.

  • The recent passage of pro-economic development legislation, like the Alabama Incentives Modernization Act, which will aid in recruitment of tech companies and enhance incentives to increase job growth in rural counties, and the Alabama Innovation Act, which creates a research and development enhancement grant program for eligible entities engaging in qualified research within the state.

  • The Building (it) Together workforce development initiative, led by BBA and Central Six AlabamaWorks, the implementation of which will focus on career awareness, talent attraction and upskilling and reskilling workers.

Existing companies in the Birmingham region have announced 569 jobs and over $324.9 million in capital investments year-to-date, McCallum said. For business expansions, the first half of 2019 has been strong, with 14 new expansion projects identified and opened.

Several major projects announced in 2018 are completed and have begun hiring. Amazon is finishing its $325 million distribution center in Bessemer, and DC BLOX opened its data center campus in Birmingham recently, which has the potential for a $785 million investment over the next 10 years. Several of these projects have been recognized nationally for their impact and join other strong accolades for the region that focus on job availability and affordability. 

Birmingham welcomes Bham BizHub, an interactive website to advance and grow entrepreneurship

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The Bham BizHub, a project of the Birmingham Business Alliance, Alabama Capital Network and the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB), today announced the launch of its beta resource guides designed to help startups and small businesses grow in the Birmingham region.

The Bham BizHub is an interactive website developed to help entrepreneurs and small business owners navigate and understand local resources. Currently the website includes three beta resource guides - The Grid, The Map and The System - created using survey data collected from over 60 programs and organizations. The site also aggregates events and workshops around Birmingham geared toward startups and small businesses.

“I am happy to see the Bham BizHub bridge the gap between resources and businesses across the region and serve as an inclusive one-stop shop for anyone looking to feel more connected to our region’s entrepreneurial community,” said Devon Laney, President and CEO of startup incubator Innovation Depot and Vice Chairman of Innovation and Technology for the Birmingham Business Alliance (BBA) “I work every day with startups and this has been a need in the Birmingham business community for years.”

The Bham BizHub is an effort led by the Birmingham Business Alliance, Alabama Capital Network and the UAB Harbert Institute for Innovation and Entrepreneurship, in partnership with Alabama Power Co., City of Birmingham, Create Birmingham, Innovate Birmingham, Innovation Depot, Operation Hope, REV Birmingham, Urban Impact and others.

In the coming months, the Bham BizHub team will be soliciting feedback on the beta versions, collecting data from additional organizations and working to continuously improve the resource guides.

For more information about the Bham BizHub and to provide feedback, click here to visit the site.

Birmingham highlighted during bioscience trade mission to Ireland, U.K.

The Birmingham Business Alliance’s Vice President of Innovation and Technology Jon Nugent and Director of Research Emily Jerkins recently joined a delegation of business leaders and economic developers from across the state for a life science trade and investment mission to Ireland and the United Kingdom.

Birmingham companies AerBetic, BioGX and TriAltus Bioscience were also on the mission, which aimed to connect Alabama’s healthcare sector to the healthcare industries of both European countries. Here’s a glimpse at what happened on the mission.

Birmingham Economic Development recognized nationally

The Birmingham seven-county region and Alabama have been recognized by several economic development publications for work that will move the needle forward in the region.

“These recognitions demonstrate the hard-fought results of our region’s efforts to attract new investment into the community,” said Birmingham Business Alliance Vice President of Economic Development Jeff Traywick. “Through the continued partnership of our regional business and civic leadership, we plan to continue our forward momentum in the recruitment of new opportunity for our region’s citizens. We are glad to see that these publications have recognized the impact that companies, both foreign and domestic, have made on the Birmingham region.”

New and expanding: At 25, Infomedia moves downtown, adds employees

Birmingham-based full-service web company Infomedia Inc. has moved its headquarters downtown.

The company, which supports over 600 websites and turns 25 this year, marked its quarter-century with a move last month from Vestavia Hills to 2717 Third Avenue South in Birmingham’s design district near Pepper Place. Infomedia is also adding four jobs this year in areas ranging from web developer to videographer to strategist.

Additionally, Infomedia has moved its spinoff marketing company, Uptick Marketing, which it acquired in 2014, into the same space as its parent company, consolidating 26 employees into the new 5,000-square-foot space.