Dalton Smith leaving Birmingham Business Alliance

By Jonathan Hardison

BIRMINGHAM,AL (WBRC) - Just a year after he helped put it together, the Birmingham Business Alliance's leader is leaving.

Dalton Smith is leaving the BBA to focus on promoting ethics reform, but where does that leave economic development in this city at a time where the unemployment rate is stuck in the double digits?

Smith is leaving to pursue state ethics reform, and BBA Vice President Barry Copeland will become interim CEO.

Smith's departure comes just weeks before the BBA is set to unveil it's "Blueprint Birmingham," billed as the business community's new plan for creating jobs and helping the area grow.

"It's definetly unusual, but at least 1 of the members of the executive committee that I spoke with said that it would be a good time for Dalton to voluntarily resign and move along," said Birmingham Business Journal reporter Ben Piper.

Smith's departure also comes on the heels of the news that Huntsville is getting hundreds of new high-paying missile defense jobs and Montgomery will be home to another auto manufacturing plant. So what does this mean for Birmingham's chances of recruiting the same kind of jobs?

"There is kind of a little bit of instability there, however with the executive committee saying "we're confident in the ability of Barry Copeland moving forward," they say they feel comfortable with him, and also said the search may possibly wait until Blueprint Birmingham is released," Piper said.

Both Smith and the BBA declined our request for an interview Monday but in their press release BBA board chairman Dowd Ritter said "wWe are putting the finishing touches on our long term strategic plan thanks to Dalton's work, and though we will miss him I know that he is leaving to work on a project he sees as critical to the long term success of our state."

The new Blueprint Birmingham is scheduled to be released to the public in September. The BBA hasn't said how soon it hopes to hire a replacement for Dalton Smith.

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