In a show of its economic development power, the Jefferson County Commission recently announced five projects in one day that will create hundreds of high-paying jobs and millions in investment while diversifying the metro area’s economy, according to commission members.
Agreements were announced this month with Pack Health, a local health company; Kratos, a national security solutions provider that recently acquired the Southern Research Engineering division; The Bray, Liberty Park’s joint venture with the city of Vestavia Hills; Southern Research, a non-profit research organization; and the Birmingham Business Alliance (BBA) Supplier Scale Programme.
The total investment of $31.8 million is spread over two of the projects. The county invested $750,000 in the study and project from the Birmingham Business Alliance. Three of the projects will create a projected 401 combined jobs over the next five years.
“Each of these projects is the result of a regional collaboration between multiple agencies,” said County Commissioner Steve Ammons, chairman of the Economic Development Committee. “It’s important not only to introduce a new industry to diversify our economy, but also to continue to support agencies that are established and an integral part of the community as we continue to grow.”
These are a few projects that have helped make Jefferson County the leader in job creation statewide since 2019, according to the Alabama Department of Commerce. In 2019, the county was fifth in the state in capital investment and fourth in the state in job creation. In 2021, the county is second in capital investment and first in jobs created.
The key is to build relationships, Ammons said.
“We have strong links with the Birmingham Business Alliance (BBA), the Department of Trade, our local allies in our seven-county region,” he said.
The focus isn’t just jobs, “but it’s above-average wage jobs because we don’t incentivize jobs unless they meet certain criteria, which is above-average income. We need a minimum of $50,000 a year – which we should probably look at and maybe increase,” he said.
Stimulating above-average wage jobs improves the overall economy, he said. “There will be more people buying houses or renting if they want to stay here for just a few years.” … Of course, once they get here, they love it and want to be here.
“In the grand scheme of things, once you buy a place and buy a car or go to restaurants, it makes an impact. How much of this is discretionary spending? And how much do you spend in the community to improve your house? Or go to the Red Mountain Theater? Or one of the restaurants? … More money flows into the economy because we add jobs.”
Ammons said he is pleased with the projects schedule. “Some of them have been coming for a long time. And they all happen to land at almost the same time, but timing is everything, right? It takes a lot of work that people don’t see behind the scenes to make sure these are good projects. It takes a lot of talking, it takes a lot of work by our legal team to make sure these agreements are appropriate and in the best interest of the county. I am delighted with the level of interest in economic development, particularly in the sectors we have chosen.”
Those sectors, he said, include advanced manufacturing, which includes automotive and aerospace, bio and life sciences, and everything from genomics to biotechnology.
Kratos’ defense and security solutions are being showcased at the Farnborough International Air Show near London, where the company has announced an expansion of its Birmingham operations, adding 76 jobs. (contributed)
An image shows Southern Research’s planned headquarters in south Birmingham. (contributed)
Here’s a closer look at projects recently approved by the Jefferson County Commission:
- Health pack
regarding: A local healthcare company with a capital investment of $5.2 million. Pack Health is an evidence-based patient engagement platform that changes health behaviors to close care gaps and improve patient outcomes.
Job evaluations: This expansion is expected to create 120 jobs in three years and 200 jobs by year five.
Stimulus: Amount based on disclosed jobs.
regarding: A national security solutions provider that recently acquired the Southern Research Engineering division.
Plans: Will invest $26.6 million in the community.
Job evaluations: 76 high-paying jobs over a five-year period.
Stimulus: Amount based on disclosed jobs.
regarding: Liberty Park Joint Venture with the City of Vestavia Hills.
Plans: Will develop approximately 865 acres that will be the new headquarters of the Medical Properties Trust and will also have housing, hospitality, healthcare, parks and schools.
Fiscal impact: $70 million in property taxes over the next 25 years for Jefferson County.
- Southern Studies
regarding: A non-profit research organization.
Plans: Will expand its facilities to develop commercialization capacity with a venture studio and new 200,000 square feet of research lab space.
Job evaluations: Approximately 125 new well-paying research-related jobs.
- The Birmingham Business Alliance (BBA) Supplier Scale Programme.
regarding: Supply chain research and business development support program.
District investment: $750,000.
This story was originally published by The Birmingham Times.