Birmingham Regional Chamber of Commerce
The Birmingham Regional Chamber of Commerce was a lobbying group for member businesses in the seven county Birmingham-Hoover Metropolitan Statistical Area. In 2008 the Chamber had over 2,500 members and employed two full-time lobbyists to advocate for business at the local, state, and federal level. It was headquartered on the second floor of the Financial Center building at 505 20th Street North and its president was Russell Cunningham. In July 2009 the Chamber merged with Region 2020 and the Metropolitan Development Board to become the Birmingham Business Alliance.
The Chamber was the publisher of Birmingham magazine.
The Chamber was established at a May 14, 1887 meeting at O'Brien's Opera House at which the group's by-laws and board of directors were created. The first president was William T. Underwood.
In the 1910s the organization moved into the newly-built Lincoln Life Building on 1st Avenue North at 19th Street.
In the 1950s the Chamber financed the installation of Christmas lights and decorations in the downtown area.
In the 1970s the Chamber purchased the former Protective Life building and rechristened it as the "Commerce Center" with a large vertical neon sign on the facade.
In 2006 the Chamber developed the Birmingham Virtual Newsroom, a public-relations team that pitches stories about Birmingham to national and international media outlets. Vice President Melanie Davis heads the division, while Brannon Stewart serves as director.
In 2008 the Chamber was harshly criticized by Birmingham mayor Larry Langford, who accused them of promoting the region at the expense of Birmingham itself. After a heated argument with Cunningham on March 6 the two leaders were able to resolve their differences. Meanwhile the Chamber's support for a bill that would create a County Manager position for Jefferson County led Commissioner Shelia Smoot to attack the group for interference in the political process.
- Williams, Roy L. (December 14, 2007) "Chamber has a story or two to tell." Birmingham News
- Williams, Roy L. (March 27, 2008) "Politicians' criticism of Birmingham Chamber is unusual thing for low-key business group." Birmingham News
- DeButts, Jimmy (July 14, 2009) "Chamber-MDB group unveils name, logo." Birmingham Business Journal