The Birmingham Business Alliance (BBA) reported that 75 economic development projects were announced in 2016, accounting for 2,014 jobs and $586,539,076 in capital investment in the Birmingham region in 2016, during its 2017 Economic Growth Summit this week, presented by Sirote & Permutt PC.
Brian Hilson, president and CEO of the BBA, presented economic development highlights from 2016 and talked about Birmingham’s strengths, challenges and areas that require improvement.
In 2016, he said, MollerTech in Bibb County had the highest number of announced jobs, with 222, followed by Eissman Automotive (200), Atlas RFID (110) and BLOX (114). Auto supplier Gestamp had the largest capital investment of the year, with $131.7 million.
Of the 75 announced projects, 51 percent were manufacturing companies, while 15 percent were in the life sciences and information technology, and 13 percent were in finance and insurance. The report also illustrated that 56 percent of the jobs created were in Jefferson County, and 37 percent were located in the City of Birmingham.
Birmingham received 42 national media accolades in 2016, and 138 since 2011, a record in rankings and positive mentions for the region.
Also during the summit, Dr. Ray Watts, president of the University of Alabama at Birmingham and 2017 chairman of the BBA, updated the crowd of more than 300 on Innovate Birmingham, the initiative to create an innovation district in Birmingham. Volunteers led the charge in 2016 to get the initiative off the ground, he said, and an official launch of Innovate Birmingham is expected in May.
“Technology touches every business,” said Dr. Watts. “We’ve created the Innovate Birmingham Initiative to boost opportunities to grow businesses and help prepare students in the technology field. There are 1,000 IT jobs that have gone unfilled in Birmingham. We need to prepare young people graduating from high school or college for these opportunities.”
Hilson said the BBA will continue in 2017 to also focus on four areas to boost continued growth in the region: availability of financial capital, infrastructure improvement, workforce development programs and the Innovate Birmingham initiative.
Don’t miss the BBA’s 2017 Regional Economic Growth Report, which details the 75 projects announced in 2016 and more. Also included in the report is Birmingham’s performance metric comparison to its peer cities, where the Magic City improved in nine of 12 economic indicators such as employment, population, degree attainment, cost of living and personal income.