Over $1 billion was invested in Birmingham’s regional economy in 2015, but the region’s prosperity has not trickled down to many of our neighborhoods and small businesses creating two Birminghams:
A downtown that has attracted virtually all of the Mayor’s attention the past seven years and the rest of Birmingham looking for more leadership from the Mayor’s Office to create opportunities for our residents, our students and our small businesses. City Hall has to play an active role in creating opportunities for all Birmingham residents and creating an environment where our small businesses can thrive.
As Mayor, I would execute a dynamic “Opportunity Agenda” that would fully leverage City Hall in support of Birmingham’s greatest resource: its people.
Create Neighborhood Opportunity Centers
Develop partnerships with Jefferson County Workforce Development centers, adult education providers, the Birmingham Business Alliance, and the local business community to convert City-owned community centers in high-unemployment neighborhoods into “Opportunity Centers” that can connect Birmingham residents to job training, adult education and local employment opportunities
Develop an Opportunity Tax Credit to Encourage Hiring Birmingham Residents from High-Unemployment Neighborhoods
Work with the City Council to develop an “Opportunity Tax Credit” – against a company’s Occupational Tax liability for hiring and retaining Birmingham residents from high-unemployment neighborhoods, formerly incarcerated Birmingham residents, and Birmingham public housing residents.
Debt-Free Local Community College for Birmingham Public School Graduates
Earmark funds for the “Fred Shuttlesworth Opportunity Scholarship” which would provide for debt free community college for every Birmingham Public School student that graduates that wants to attend a Jefferson County community college.
Ensuring that Every Birmingham Public School Graduate is College or Career Ready
Work with my former colleagues on the Birmingham School Board to ensure that every Birmingham Public School student that chooses not to go to college or go into the military graduates with both a diploma and an Alabama Career Readiness Certificate.
Cultivating a “School to Startup Pipeline” Between Birmingham Public Schools and Birmingham’s Technology Sector
Commission the Division of Youth Services to partner with Birmingham Public School career academies, UAB and our growing technology sector to create summer “school to startup pipeline” giving STEM and business exposure opportunities for high-achieving Birmingham Public School career academy juniors and seniors.
Supporting Birmingham’s Job Creators and Innovators
Within my first 100 days, I would convene a Small Business Task Force of city agencies and Birmingham small businesses to develop a proposal that would automate all of the City processes to obtain licenses and permits, increase transparency in the permitting and procurement process, identify and repeal or reform any city regulations or processes that are unduly burdensome for Birmingham’s small businesses, and create a “one stop shop” for Birmingham’s small businesses that would offer free consultative sessions to small business owners on the City regulatory process.
Engage university partners to understand which factors students weigh as they decide to stay in or leave Birmingham after graduation and facilitate dialogue between university stakeholders and leaders in the business community to address gaps in the recruitment pipeline
Identify potential tax incentives to create more shared work spaces and accelerators like the Innovation Depot.