Yesterday the Birmingham Business Alliance released its new “Blueprint Birmingham” plan for economic development of the seven county Birmingham region. You can read the entire plan here.
Backed up by 192 pages of data and analysis, the plan bills itself as the most comprehensive regional economic plan to date, and I think they are right. Unlike previous plans, this one just might succeed, if only because it recognizes the need for the business community to be more active in developing visionary and ethical political leadership for the region.
Everyone recognizes that a house divided can not stand, and with over 90 separate municipal and county governments all competing for the same growth opportunities, this political division is the number one reason Birmingham lags behind other competing metropolitan regions. The plan just might succeed because it calls for the local business community to actively participate in developing political leaders with the vision to work together as a region. It even goes so far as to propose a Political Action Committee be formed to financially support these candidates. This alone could make the difference between success and failure, because electing ethical political leaders who understand the potential benefits of regional cooperation, rather than building up their own little kingdoms is key to overcoming our common problems. Perhaps we can get finally get some of the political consolidation needed to stop the competition for tax dollars that stands in the way of united action.
Lets hope this plan works. Otherwise we will continue to find our region continuing to fall behind other similar regions, the quality of life here will continue to decline, and twenty years will go by while another plans collects dust on the shelf.