In a sign of its economic development, 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 economy throughout the metro area, according to commission members.
The deals were announced this month with Pack Health, a local health care company; Kratos, a national security solutions provider that recently won the Southern Research Engineering division; The Bray, a Liberty Park joint venture with the city of Vestavia Hills; Southern Research, a non-profit scientific research organization; and the Birmingham Business Alliance (BBA) supply chain programme.
A total investment of 31.8 million dollars is spread over two of the projects. The county is investing $750,000 in the study and project from the Birmingham Business Alliance. Three of the projects will create a combined 401 jobs over the next five years.
“Each of these projects is the result of regional cooperation between multiple agencies,” said County Commissioner Steve Ammons, chairman of the Economic Development Committee. “It’s important that we not only bring in new industry to diversify our economy, but continue to support agencies that are established and an integral part of the community as we continue to grow.”
These are some of the projects that have helped Jefferson County lead the state in job creation since 2019, according to the Alabama Department of Commerce. In 2019, the county was fifth in the state for capital investment and fourth in the state for job creation. In 2021, the county was second in capital investment and first in job creation.
The key has been building relationships, Ammons said.
“We have strong relationships with the Birmingham Business Alliance (BBA), the Department of Commerce, our local allies in our seven-county region,” he said.
The focus is not only on jobs, “but on jobs with an above-average salary, because we do not stimulate jobs if they do not meet certain criteria, which are above the average income. We’re looking at 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. “That’s going to be more people buying homes or renting if they’re going to stay here for 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 has an impact. How much of that is discretionary spending? And how much are you spending in the community to improve your home? Or to go to the Red Mountain Theater? Or any of the restaurants? … More money is coming into the economy because we’re adding jobs.”
Ammons said he is pleased with the timing of the projects. “Some of them have been coming for a long time. And they all happen to land at about the same time, but timing is everything, right? It takes a lot of work that people don’t see in the background to make sure these are good projects. It takes a lot of conversation, it takes a lot of work by our legal team to make sure that those agreements are appropriate and are in the best interest of the county. I am happy at the level of interest in economic development, especially 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 & Security Solutions is on display at the Farnborough International Air Show near London, where the company announced an expansion of its operations in Birmingham, adding 76 jobs. (contributed)
A rendering shows Southern Research’s planned headquarters on Birmingham’s Southside. (contributed)
Here’s a closer look at the projects recently approved by the Jefferson County Commission:
- Health Pack
circle: 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 gaps in care and improve patient outcomes.
Job evaluations: This expansion is estimated to create 120 jobs in three years and 200 jobs in the fifth year.
incentive: Amount based on job creation.
circle: A national security solutions provider that recently acquired the Southern Research Engineering division.
plan: Will invest $26.6 million in the community.
Job evaluations: 76 high-paying jobs over a five-year period.
incentive: Amount based on job creation.
circle: A joint venture of Liberty Park with the City of Vestavia Hills.
plan: It will develop approximately 865 hectares which will be the new headquarters of the Medical Properties Trust and will also have residential, hospitality, health facilities, parks and schools.
Fiscal impact: $70 million in property taxes over the next 25 years for Jefferson County.
- Southern Research
circle: A non-profit scientific research organization.
plan: It will expand its facilities to develop commercialization capacity with a venture studio and a new 200,000 square feet of research laboratory space.
Job evaluations: Approximately 125 new high-paying research-related jobs.
- Birmingham Business Alliance (BBA) supplier scale program.
circle: A supply chain study and program to support business development.
District investment: $750,000.
This story was originally published by The Birmingham Times.