A new initiative is aiming to bring more companies to Birmingham, AL. According to the Birmingham Business Journal, a new initiative called Birmingham Bound aims to use the city’s strengths to recruit more high-growth companies.
The initiative has already been backed by several key players in Alabama’s business scene. Britney Summerville, the director of community engagement at Shipt, is leading the initiative and working with executives from TechBirmingham, Alabama Power, Innovation Depot, the Alabama Department of Commerce, and many others.
The initiative has the potential to pay big dividends for Birmingham entrepreneurs who will be key job creators in the next few years. But before the city’s entrepreneurs can spearhead the Birmingham economy, executives and companies first need to visit. That’s where Birmingham Bound comes in.
Birmingham Bound first gained momentum at Sloss Tech 2018, an event hosted by TechBirmingham. Chris Moody, a Foundry Group partner, spoke at the event and said he came away impressed by the advantages Birmingham could offer to businesses.
Moody brought five companies to Birmingham in October 2018 as a part of the first Birmingham Bound visit. Summerville said three companies were committed to establishing a presence in the city.
One of the three companies was San Francisco-based digital marketing company Pantheon. Chief operating officer Niall Hayes said Pantheon will begin establishing a three-person operation at the Innovation Depot.
“Birmingham Bound was a fantastic experience, full of information about all things Alabama, the people, the landscape, the nearby universities, the local real estate market and the city government and incentives,” said Hayes. “It was a great opportunity to mix with portfolio peers, see and hear how Birmingham can help solve mutual problems.”
Pantheon currently has satellite offices in New York and Minneapolis, but the company was looking for a third destination to set up an office that would help them get ahead of other major tech companies what with 43% of marketers increasing their investment in digital marketing.
Older methods of marketing and advertising aren’t quite as effective these days: consumers tend to say that only 31% of the direct mail they receive has useful, personalized content. Perhaps that’s why Hayes said the company was looking for a market with an upward trajectory and a desire for more technology. Birmingham, he said, fit the bill.
One of the key goals for Birmingham Bound is to boost connections with high-growth companies that may not have otherwise have come to the city. Up to 79% of consumers have researched a brand after they’ve received a promotional product, and in this case, the promotional product is Birmingham itself.
Birmingham Bound will continue to search for new companies to visit the city. Summerville says they’ll use connections with venture capital firms and other outlets to help build the initiative’s success.
But, Summerville says, there are many characteristics of Birmingham that are key selling points already. For instance, rent is one of the top three largest office expenses a company pays. The cost and availability of office space in Birmingham has been one of the biggest eye-openers for visitors coming from large cities like San Francisco.
Still, it isn’t just the economic benefits of moving to Birmingham that are interesting investors. It’s also the sense of community.
“The thing that’s getting them, and it’s really sealing the deal, is the feeling of community,” said Summerville. “They’re seeing they can make a difference in a Birmingham that they can’t make in a Silicon Valley or New York or Boston, so there is a unique opportunity for them to change the future of a city and to be a part of that, so it’s a neat cultural fit.”