In 2020, Birmingham faced an economic collapse of unprecedented proportions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. In view of the enormous damage to the economy and the life and livelihoods of individuals, the drive towards normalcy is understandably strong. However, the “normal” that preceded the pandemic didn’t cut off. COVID-19 has exposed longstanding economic and social challenges that have prevented the region’s economy from realizing its potential.
Fortunately, the pandemic has strengthened the community’s determination to mitigate the worst of the crisis and lay the groundwork for Birmingham’s economy to rejuvenate. While peer cities have made significant steps towards such inclusive prosperity through sustainable, cross-sectoral regional partnerships in recent years, Birmingham can do the same – but only if the city meets its current challenges.
In addition to the need to address recent and historical disparities and economic inequalities, Jefferson County is projected to cross a major demographic threshold in just over a decade, as more than 50% of the population will be colored by 2034. To thrive, the economy must increasingly reflect this demographic reality and increase the opportunities for black residents to find good jobs and gain access to business opportunity and capital.
Produced over two years in collaboration with dozens of local leaders and committed citizens, the new report calls for a cross-sectoral regional partnership to improve the region’s economic future and prevent Birmingham from falling into an isolated, weak business life. usual rest. Such an attempt Thrive, is led by a group of leaders from citizens, businesses, governments and communities and aims to move the region towards economic transformation and inclusive prosperity.
The report underscores Prosper’s support in promoting inclusive growth in the region and provides background analysis of several realities that hampered Birmingham’s recovery from the Great Recession:
After the Great Recession, the Birmingham area did not generate enough new business growth to create good jobs.
Birmingham is getting better and better education, but access to quality post-secondary education and training is still unequal. Inequalities in the labor market mean that a certain level of education for blacks and women does not produce the same economic outcomes as for whites and men.
Inequitable access hits the black majority neighborhoods hardest, as local jobs and entrepreneurial opportunities are a critical source of wealth, employment and neighborhood stability.
To meet these challenges, Prosper is neither a program that replaces good work nor a large business organization. Rather, it is a new funding model and collaborative effort that will play three roles:
- Assortment of various leaders in order to establish and communicate the vision of the region.
- Focus on selected regional priorities and initial initiatives.
- Align and scale investments and track effects.
Brookings Metro – in coordination with dozens of local stakeholders – worked with the Prosper board of directors to identify four initiatives that will be the first focus of the organization’s funding plan that will address job creation, scheduling, and access to Deal with jobs. These four initiatives are part of a broader range of regional priorities that focus on creating and growing more startups, helping displaced people get back on their feet through in-demand training, connecting car-free people to jobs, and bridging the digital divide . These priorities can help guide regional post-COVID-19 recovery strategies and coordinate public, private and philanthropic investments.
Prosper’s first four initiatives:
- Birmingham Promise Initiative. Invest in college and career paths for youth through the Birmingham Promise Scholarship and Education Initiative.
- Business consulting initiative. An intensive, bespoke business advisory service that improves technology adoption, productivity, innovation and job creation in “missing medium” small businesses.
- HealthTech Initiative. New initiative to make Birmingham a health technology solutions center through investing in entrepreneurship, talent and community involvement.
- Black-owned business acceleration initiative. Build and grow more businesses in the black community by connecting black entrepreneurs with the coaching, capital, and resources they need to be successful.
Birmingham has the potential to become a great economy capable of competing and thriving around the world. However, this potential will only be achieved if the community can align and invest on a set of common priorities. The authors of the new report argue that Birmingham should address the challenges of growth and inequality through the continued efforts of Prosper’s multisectoral regional partnership to achieve an inclusive economy for all residents.