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No-Growthers' Impact on Region's Economy

Why our region cannot afford to adopt no - growth policies

No - growthers almost prevented the establishment of a world - class motor sports track and museum that pumps more than $66 million annually into the area's economy.  (See: "What Have They Been Up to Lately?") The zoning for the museum and track barely passed by only a single vote, thanks to opposition from the Cahaba River Society and their disingenuous use of their version of "Facts."

But that's just one example of how our region cannot afford to adopt the policies that no - growthers want to impose on the rest of us.

The Birmingham area is already lagging behind its sister southeastern cities. Consider this:

  • In the past few years, a number of major corporations once headquartered here have left Birmingham: Saks, Caremark, TorchMark and SONAT, among others. Stories of Birmingham companies laying off workers, shutting down or moving to another state appear every week in the news.

  • Our most important arts and cultural institutions have had to forego needed funding because tax revenues no longer support the award - winning programs that helped them keep their head above water.

  • The City of Birmingham has lost population faster than 98% of major cities in the U.S. between 2000 and 2004, while a host of regional southeast cities have been growing. See the chart for yourself.

  • A ranking of Southeastern cities with population above 100,000 shows Birmingham's growth was 76th out of 77 (only New Orleans grew more slowly). Click here to see how we rank.

  • Think the problem only applies to the City of Birmingham? Think again. A similar ranking of counties places Jefferson County 187th out of 195, with a growth rate less than one percent at a time when Madison County to our north, for example, was growing at the rate of 7.3%.

  • We're also lagging in job growth creation for the 15 years from 1990 to 2005. A study by Porter, White & Co. found Birmingham ranked behind Raleigh, Nashville, Jackson, Shreveport and Richmond, among others, in job creation for the period. Click to read about that report.

  • The Dean of the UAB School of Business, Dr. Bob Holmes, has said "If you look at it from a long - term perspective, we don't stack up too well. We've got a situation where if we don't turn it around, we're going to be further and further behind other cities in the region."

It will be difficult to reverse the negative trends, even if enlightened policies that balance growth and development with needed environmental protections like those BARD supports, are put into place.

But one thing is certain: It will be impossible for our region to catch up if we are saddled with onerous regulations designed to stifle growth. No region can hope to address its most pressing social, political or even environmental problems if it doesn't offer opportunities for economic growth and development to its citizens. With no sound economic base, the hard dollar resources to address our significant problems in education, transportation, health care and housing just won't be available.

That's why we cannot afford to let the no - growthers have their way, and why BARD is committed to making families and businesses aware of the effect their misguided policies would have on our children's and grandchildren's future and quality of life.

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