Birmingham Strong (also called Bham Strong or #BhamStrong) is an economic relief program developed by the City of Birmingham as a response to event and business shutdowns, and stay-at-home orders necessitated by enforced social distancing measures to limit the spread of the 2020 Coronavirus pandemic. Suzanna Fritzberg, former policy director for South Bend, Indiana mayor and presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg, was hired to oversee the program.
The program is a public-private partnership. The city has contributed more than $2 million toward the "Birmingham Strong Fund", managed by the Community Foundation of Greater Birmingham, to help mitigate the economic damage to small businesses. Some of those funds were already budgeted for related programs managed by the Birmingham Department of Innovation and Economic Opportunity. Additional money reallocated from former economic incentive agreements was also earmarked for the fund, along with donations from "community partners" and individuals.
The Birmingham Strong website and telephone service helps businesses and individuals navigate resources on COVID-19 public health issues, as well as economic relief opportunities. The program is involved in managing the city's role in the $2.2 trillion federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act of 2020. Individuals who lost employment due to the pandemic are eligible to work for the Birmingham Strong Service Corps assisting in managing the program and performing social service jobs such as delivering meals and school supplies, and transporting individuals for COVID-19 testing in cars specially outfitted with "vehicle isolation pods" to prevent transmission of the virus.
Birmingham applied $1 million of the $9,029,329 it was awarded from a $115 million CARES Act grant distributed by Jefferson County toward Birmingham Strong.
- West, Ty (March 15, 2020) "Birmingham Strong Fund launched to help small businesses impacted by coronavirus." Birmingham Business Journal
- Beahm, Anna (April 13, 2020) "Bham Strong now accepting job applications." The Birmingham News
- Beahm, Anna (April 14, 2020) "$1M approved for Birmingham Strong Service Corps." The Birmingham News
- Beahm, Anna (April 15, 2020) "Pete Buttigieg staffer to lead Birmingham Strong." The Birmingham News
- Beahm, Anna (July 21, 2020) "Here’s how Birmingham is using CARES Act money." The Birmingham News
- Birmingham Strong website