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The Chamber’s outlook for 2007

9 January 2007

I had the good fortune of attending the Birmingham Regional Chamber of Commerce‘s 2007 Business Outlook Conference this morning.  Once you got past the industry-specific presentations, such as the one about the biotech industry, the discussion got down to the meat of the analysis.  The “2007 Economic Analysis” document distributed (and available from the Chamber) was full of worthy nuggets about where our region is heading.  I’ve lifted (without apology, ‘cept for my comments in italics and parens) a handful for your reading enjoyment here, in no particular order:

  •  The number of jobs in Birmingham is at a record high and growing with the US average after (despite?) struggling with banking and retail consolidations
  • Relative to other major Southeastern Metro Areas of comparable size, Birmingham has the second lowest unemployment rates
  • Relative to all Metro Areas (across the US, not just the Southeast) of population half million to two and a half million, Birmingham is second in personal income per capita growth over the last five years – second only to Virginia Beach-Norfolk, Va
  • One in four jobs in the state of Alabama are in the Birmingham area
  • When 10,000 evacuees arrived in Birmingham escaping the ravages of Hurrican Katrina, they were quickly absorbed into the workforce with no adverse effects on the unemployment rate
  • Some firms think of Birmingham as “a low-cost Atlanta.”
  • Events (predicted) that could add to increased growth include a major Birmingham bank purchasing another non-Birmingha-based bank and attracting more biotech firms to Birmingham as a result of UAB’s biomedical research, funding support, and equipment and expertise in its new Shelby Biomedical Building
  • Downside risks include further buyout or consolidation of Birmingham banks and temporary loss of retail sales as Belk consolidates its Parisian acquisition
  • UAB ranks 37th globally and 26th domestically in Milken Institute’s ranking of biotech publication Universities
  • Birmingham is ranked (as a city) 5th in the nation on a per capita basis for its ability to attract Federal R&D dollars by the Public Policy Forum
  • Southern Comfort Conversions moved into its new HQ and manufacturing facility in Center Point and is now the largest and most advanced conversion vehicle facility in the world with 532,000 square feet of space and 200 employees
  • Lakeshore Parkway’s right-of-way acquisition is scheduled in 2007 and beyond for the 5-mile extension from Hwy 150 to I-459 at the Morgan Road exit
  • Birmingham’s population represents 24% of the Alabama state population, 35% of the state’s housholds with income of $200K and greater, and 28% of the total effective buying income
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