We operate across four key lanes, always with an emphasis on putting people first through servant leadership.
Office of Business Diversity & Opportunity
IEO gives small businesses a seat at the economic development table, enabling Birmingham to grow from within and neighborhoods to thrive.
- Solicit input through the Small Business Council to organize and deliver resources, while addressing key concerns and elevating community-led solutions.
- Provide resources for small business owners to obtain technical assistance, enhance marketing, apply for SBIR or other loans, and improve facilities.
- Streamline processes that have inhibited small business growth, including obtaining and renewing a business license or reimbursing city subcontractors and vendors.
- Celebrate small businesses for their unique contributions to our communities.
Our Office of Business Diversity & Opportunity is led by Monique (“Mo”) Shorts and Coreata’ Houser. Learn more about their work at birminghamal.gov/bhmup.
- The City of Birmingham launched the VITAL Program (Valuing Inclusion To Accelerate and Lift) in June 2020, and we are challenging other companies to join us in measuring what they value: publishing an annual performance report on spending with MWDBEs. Beginning in January 2021, we will work with partner companies to publish a report in the Birmingham Business Journal.
- The Legacy Business Program aims to support, protect, and promote legacy businesses who have contributed significantly to the fabric of our city, but may be in jeopardy of not being able to thrive in the midst of city’s growth.
- IEO recently worked with local partners to stand up Bham Strong in response to the COVID-19 economic crisis, and also helped launched the Birmingham Business Relief Fund for small businesses affected by unrest downtown in early June.
Real Estate Development
Birmingham is a city for purpose-driven builders. IEO works closely with entrepreneurs and developers to catalyze strategic investments.
- Launch and operate a transparent data-driven Property Sales process.
- Proactively work with the private sector to develop underused sites around Birmingham to meet community needs.
- Pursue extramural funding mechanisms, via grants or otherwise, to boost investments in innovation with city-sponsored programming and public-private partnerships.
- Lead in developing new partnerships to diversify developer talent.
- Leverage tax incentive programs, including Opportunity Zones and New Market Tax Credits, to weave together diverse funding sources, including local and national investors.
- IEO helped realize Birmingham’s first Opportunity Zone project, the American Life building featuring 140 workforce housing units downtown.
IEO is committed to co-creating ladders of opportunity to sustain a qualified workforce for Birmingham’s economic growth.
- Proactively lead in developing a reskilling strategy for Birmingham residents.
- Pursue extramural funding mechanisms, via grants or otherwise, to fund online learning opportunities and practicum based training for Birmingham residents who have lost their jobs due to COVID-19.
- Support the Birmingham Promise as a mode to create a pipeline of young talent into quality jobs in Birmingham.
- Establish partnerships with Birmingham alumni at HBCUs and other universities to obtain jobs or launch businesses in the City.
- Develop an internship program to allow students to build professional skills and earn money, especially in the summer.
- Birmingham Promise, now an independent nonprofit, makes college affordable and accessible for Birmingham City Schools students and provides apprenticeship opportunities at local companies.
Recruitment, Expansion & Retention
IEO will expand existing industries and recruit cluster-based targets in partnership to accelerate trade by leveraging best practices in project management.
- Implement a strategy to recruit grocery stores and expand healthy food access to Birmingham’s food deserts.
- Prioritize sites for development to create quality jobs and focus on preparedness of these sites.
- Design a strategy to call and support businesses with demonstrated potential for growth.
- Invest in cluster-based transformational growth through a public-private partnership, Prosper Birmingham.
- Modernize project management systems through adoption new technological solutions and metric-based monitoring.
- IEO performs economic impact analyses for projects throughout City Hall to ensure incentives and other investments are right-sized to the economic impact projects will generate.
- IEO administers the City’s Healthy Food Fund to attract and sustain grocery operators in Birmingham’s food deserts. Additionally, the Healthy Food Ordinance IEO helped craft increased the number of days per year that farmers markets and public markets can operate; permits mobile grocers to operate in residential districts; and restricts new development of “dollar stores” within one mile of an existing “dollar store.”