8 months ago

The ‘Southern Silicon Valley’: Another national business publication names Birmingham as a growing tech hub

Three weeks after Forbes published a deep-dive about the Magic City’s strides to become a tech hub, entitled “Inside Birmingham’s Bid To Become The Southern Silicon Valley,” Barron’s hailed the city in an article with the title “Add Birmingham To Tech’s Growing List of Hubs.”

Written by Jon Swartz, the new piece discusses “the economic renaissance of The Magic City” from “the Pittsburgh of the South” to the “Southern Silicon Valley.”

“There’s an intersection in downtown Birmingham, Ala., they call the ‘heaviest corner on Earth’ as a symbol of its status as a steel and iron town nearly a century ago,” Swartz began.

He continued, “Today, one of its pillars – a converted bank in the John A. Hand Building – is home to Shipt, the city’s big tech success story. It employs 400 here, with plans to add another 880 jobs in the next few years.”

Shipt, which sold to Target last year for a whopping $550 million, is Birmingham’s most well-known tech company, as Todd Stacy pointed out in Monday’s Daily News Digest for the Alabama Daily News. However, the company is one of many stories of entrepreneurial achievement incubated by a tech and business-friendly environment in Alabama.

Like the Forbes article, Swartz’s piece for Barron’s lauds the Innovation Depot’s role in Birmingham’s growing success.

The Innovation Depot, he noted, is “a shuttered 140,000-square-foot Sears store from the 1980s has been converted into a thriving center for more than 100 tech companies and entrepreneurs in the region.”

Swartz then names some lesser-known but very impressive Birmingham-based tech companies:

  • XpertDox, “a 3-year-old company at the depot that has compiled a comprehensive database of the highest-rated doctors specializing in disease treatments.”
  • Helplightning, “is the fifth startup of Gary York, a Huntsville, Ala., native who spent time in Silicon Valley. He’s returned home to raise a family and help lead a generation of new companies like his own—which has developed a virtual reality tool for customer-service agents to install or fix equipment.”
  • Planet Fundraiser, “a mobile app for cash-back programs for fundraising located nearby. It has partnered with 500 merchants and 25 major retailers such as Home Depot (HD) and Walmart (WMT).”

He later recognizes Amazon’s decision to build an 855,000-square-foot fulfillment center in Bessemer that will employ 1,500 as another clear sign “of tech’s emergence.”

But it is the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) that often flies under the radar in Birmingham’s tech eruption, Swartz notes.

Swartz calls UAB the “sleeping giant in all this” and praises its $7 billion annual economic impact on the city.

The just-opened Bill Harbert Institute for Innovation and Entrepreneurship hopes to further build a culture that “fosters innovation and entrepreneurship” that works within the framework of the community, its executive director, Kathy Nugent told Swartz.

“We want UAB to be a pipeline to the city’s developing tech hub,” she said.

Per Barron’s, “Nugent wants to make UAB a launching pad for the city’s next generation of tech startups.”

Shipt founder and CEO Bill Smith has similarly lofty expectations for the “Southern Silicon Valley.”

“Tech is the fastest-growing industry here,” Smith emphasized. “You will soon find names of that industry on the top of buildings downtown besides those of banks and insurance companies.”

Sean Ross is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn

2 hours ago

Ad challenges Doug Jones on assertion that Boston Marathon Bomber should be allowed to vote while in jail

Senator Doug Jones’ (D-AL) partisan pledge to back whomever the Democrats nominate against President Donald Trump in 2020 is already manifesting itself as a major political – and policy – blunder by the incumbent from Mountain Brook as Jones seeks re-election of his own.

Hours after the National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC) erected an Alabama billboard tying Jones to far-left “socialist” healthcare plans, a new video ad was released challenging Jones to answer whether he agrees with Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and Kamala Harris (D-CA), two leading contenders for the Democrats’ 2020 presidential nomination, when they said during a CNN town hall Monday evening that the Boston Marathon Bomber and all other U.S. citizens currently serving domestic prison sentences should be allowed to vote.

Watch:

194

This is not the only radical policy issue that Jones has tacitly promised to support with his blanket presidential pledge, nor could it be the last.

Expect to see Republicans continue to tie Jones to national Democratic ideas that the clear majority of Alabamians disagree with. In 2016, Trump beat Hillary Clinton 62.9 percent to 34.6 percent, which was a difference of almost 600,000 votes.

Sean Ross is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn

3 hours ago

Major bills to get committee hearings on Tuesday

MONTGOMERY — Tuesday is expected to be an interesting day in the Alabama legislature, as respective bills dealing with the lottery and constitutional carry are set to receive committee consideration.

State Sen. Greg Albritton’s (R-Range) lottery bill – SB 220 – and State Sen. Gerald Allen’s (R-Tuscaloosa) bill eliminating firearm permit requirements – SB 4 – are on the Senate Tourism Committee’s meeting agenda for 2:00 p.m. You can listen live here.

Additionally, State Sen. Cam Ward’s (R-Alabaster) open records reform bill, SB 237, is on the Senate Governmental Affairs Committee’s meeting agenda for 1:00 p.m. Listen live to that here.

104

Both meetings are in room 825 of the State House.

SB 220 and SB 4 have each received a public hearing in recent weeks.

SB 4’s public hearing was in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee.

SB 220 is the only clean lottery legislation that has been filed this session.

SB 237 is known as the “Alabama Open Records Act.” State Rep. Chris Pringle (R-Mobile) is carrying the bill in the House.

The House will gavel in at 1:00 p.m. Tuesday, while the Senate will begin its legislative day at 3:00 p.m.

Sean Ross is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn

Another state legislator looking at 2020 U.S. Senate bid

Episode five of “The Insider with Sean Ross” has the scoop on a new potential candidate looking at mounting a Republican 2020 U.S. Senate bid. This time, it is a state legislator who voted against the Rebuild Alabama Act, Gov. Kay Ivey’s infrastructure package that will raise the state fuel tax 10 cents over three years.

52

Join Sean Ross for the inside scoop on all the latest from Goat Hill to Capitol Hill as he hosts “The Insider,” a podcast on the new Yellowhammer Podcast Network.

Episodes will be released as news breaks, so subscribe now to stay in the know on all things political in Alabama.

14 hours ago

Del Marsh not running for U.S. Senate in 2020

Alabama Senate President Pro Tem Del Marsh (R-Anniston) has confirmed to Yellowhammer News that he will not run for the U.S. Senate seat currently held by Sen. Doug Jones (D-AL) in 2020.

133

This came after The Anniston Star published an interview Monday evening with Marsh saying, “I’m not running.”

Marsh, who has been one of Alabama’s most powerful people since the Republican takeover of the state legislature in 2010, was rumored for months to be a leading contender for the Republican U.S. Senate nomination this cycle.

However, Yellowhammer News had reported in recent weeks online and on WVNN’s “The Jeff Poor Show” that Marsh had become significantly less likely to mount a bid.

Lt. Governor Will Ainsworth (R-AL) also confirmed recently that he will not run for Jones’ seat in 2020.

Congressman Bradley Byrne (AL-01) and former Auburn University head football coach Tommy Tuberville are the only announced Republican candidates thus far.

Sean Ross is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn

15 hours ago

Report: Doug Jones hires prominent pro-choice adviser as campaign manager

Senator Doug Jones (D-AL) has picked a campaign manager for his 2020 re-election bid.

According to National Journal’s Zach Cohen, Jones has hired Cory Warfield, a Democratic operative known best perhaps for being a former adviser to Emily’s List.

Based in Washington, D.C., Emily’s List succinctly describes its mission as, “We ignite change by getting pro-choice Democratic women elected to office.”

The group lobbies for “abortion rights,” spending tens of millions in major election cycles to advance its cause.

185

Warfield confirmed the report on Twitter, while also using the opportunity to fundraise for Jones.

The new campaign manager also formerly ran Nevada’s 2016 Democratic presidential caucus.

This comes after Jones only raised 12 percent of his funds from Alabama donors in the first quarter of 2019.

The incumbent junior senator continues to draw heavy criticism for his coziness with D.C. special interest groups and national Democrats.

RELATED: Doug Jones touts support of abortion rights — ‘I am in favor of a woman’s freedom to choose’

Sean Ross is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn