2007 State of the Region luncheon
The 2007 Birmingham Regional Chamber of Commerce State of the Region luncheon took place on January 12, 2007 at the Harbert Center. The annual event is organized by the Birmingham Regional Chamber of Commerce as a way of bringing together leaders from the 7-county Birmingham Metropolitan Area to discuss the main issues affecting their districts and their vision for the future of the region.
The 2007 luncheon, which was sponsored by Adams and Reese, LLP, featured Birmingham mayor Bernard Kincaid, Jefferson County Commissioner Jim Carns, Shelby County Commissioner Don Acker, Bibb County Commission Chair Al Green, Blount County - Oneonta Chamber of Commerce member David Standridge, Chilton County Commission Chair Alan Akin, St Clair County Commission Chair Stan Batemon, and Walker County Commission Chair Bruce Hamrick.
BRCC President Carol Garrison welcomed the invitees, who were introduced by Gerald Johnson. Ann Huckstep of Adams and Reese gave a few remarks and then the invited representatives were each given a strict three minutes of time at the lectern.
Acker pronounced Shelby County "alive and well", saying that the biggest issue they were working on was a new water treatment plant for the county. He affirmed Shelby County's commitment to being a partner in regional cooperation.
Kincaid presented a brief recap of his 2007 State of the City address, touching on the role of regional transit, UAB and the BJCC in economic development and the role of new parks in improving quality of life. He summed up by exclaiming that "Birmingham's happenin'!"
Green held up a "C the River" sticker from the Cahaba River Society and stated that Bibb County was committed to cooperation in the community, county, and country. He highlighted the ongoing development of the Cahaba River National Wildlife Refuge and proposed a "Central Alabama Trail" to highlight regional attractions.
Standridge said Blount County's motto was "The Frontier of Alabama", and that, with its new sewer system, western Blount County was "open for business". Capital projects he mentioned that needed regional cooperation were the widening of Alabama State Highways 79 and 160.
Akin used the analogy of a butter knife being used as a screwdriver to praise county leaders for accomplishing things with the tools at hand. He highlighted the recent creation of Minooka Park and urged attendees "when you see that peach, stop and spend your dollars."
Carns welcomed attendees to Jefferson County and said that the commission's #1 focus is economic development. He said that he had personally seen "what it takes to be a team player" through his participation in the recruiting of Honda Motors to Alabama. He promised that when it comes to regional cooperation, "Jefferson County will work with you."
St Clair County
Batemon told a story about a tree-planting crew that was going around with one worker digging holes and another filling them in because the guy who planted the trees was out sick. He said that the biggest challenges for the region's future were to improve the image of government and to include education in planning and growth efforts.
Hamrick reported that things were going well in his district, but that "as goes the region, so goes Walker County". He thanked State Senator Jabo Waggoner for leading efforts toward closer cooperation and said that it was often to easy to lose sight of the big picture when distracted by things that "DMN" ("don't mean nothing").
- Bryant, Joseph D. (January 13, 2007) "Regional leaders reiterate need for improved transit." Birmingham News.