Birmingham is out of the running for Amazon's HQ2

Published: Jan. 18, 2018 at 1:23 PM CST|Updated: Jan. 18, 2018 at 5:20 PM CST
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BIRMINGHAM, AL (WBRC) - Birmingham did not make Amazon's top 20 list to locate a headquarters in the Magic City.

Birmingham and Jefferson County put on a big show to land Amazon here. It meant 50,000 jobs and a $5 billion investment. But, in the end the city failed to make Amazon's top twenty list.

"I wasn't surprised by the outcome," said retired UAB economist Bob Robicheaux. Robicheaux says Birmingham did come up short in two key areas.

"One is an effective and efficient transit system. We simply don't have that in the metro area. Another is they were looking for a strong unified government," Robicheaux said.

Jefferson County put $50,000 into the campaign to bring Amazon to the Magic City. Jefferson County Commissioner David Carrington said it was worth it. "I think we won because in that we were able to get the state, county, cities, UAB, education, business community all working together," Carrington said.

Carrington says the area has good school systems. Public transit and air travel can be improved.

Robicheaux said the area must act. "What we learned is our weaknesses that we ignored. Public transit and unified government are going to keep us from competing at the highest level," said Robicheaux.

So far, the city of Birmingham has yet to issue a reaction to the decision or the cost to the city.

The Birmingham Business Alliance called it a good effort.

"The City of Birmingham, Jefferson County, and the entire State of Alabama experienced tremendous value as part of this process. There was a true collaborative spirit on local, state and regulatory levels. We felt our proposal was comprehensive and had a clear-cut vision set for Amazon in terms of what we could offer regarding both workforce and all the other issues important to the company — and how we could grow together. We are extremely proud of Birmingham's effort as we compete for current and future economic development opportunities," said Rick Davis, senior vice president of economic development for the Birmingham Business Alliance.

Birmingham Mayor Randall Woodfin released the following statement about the process and decision:

Throughout the recruitment of Amazon, there was great value in the process we used in providing information the company needed to consider Birmingham. Those efforts will be applied to future projects that are sure to come along.

The recently-announced agreement between Birmingham, U.S. Steel and Barber Motorsports will result in a new industrial park off Barber Parkway. The park, which will focus on "high-tech" companies, is an example of partnerships that help make Birmingham the best place to locate a new business.

Birmingham, Jefferson County and the state of Alabama will continue to recruit workforce training, site development and other programs tailored to the needs of new businesses looking at Birmingham and the region.

You can view the Amazon press release and see a list of finalists here.

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