Birmingham air quality could have positive impact on business community

For the first time in three decades Birmingham air quality meets federal air quality standards. It's good news for our health, and good news for the business community.

It's ideal for bringing in business. Air quality is one factor businesses must consider when selecting a location.

Clean air is now a selling point for as the Birmingham Business Alliance recruits. Jefferson County manager Tony Petelos, who grew up in Birmingham, says he remembers a time when this was not the case.

"You could literally see the particles falling from the sky. If you washed your car, before you could drive you car the particles would be on the car. It was that bad," said Petelos.

Petelos knew Birmingham was cleaning up its act. Now it's official. The Alabama Department of Environmental Management says Birmingham's air quality meets federal pollution standards. "This is huge because there were certain business that we could not recruit here in the county because of the non-attainment of air quality," he said.

Petelos says now there are few restrictions on the types of business the county can bring in. "Businesses , when they're looking at coming into a city, they're looking at a lot of different aspects. They're looking at locations where the residents and their employees will have a good quality of life and this bodes well for that," said Birmingham Business Alliance regional development Vice President, Nanette Baldwin.

She says there is not one specific business or industry the organization is targeting now that air quality is better.

Rather, a team of economic development recruiters can add clean air to their list of selling points. "They go out and talk about what this area has to offer. And being able to go out and say that Birmingham is in attainment with air standards gives us an extra leg up when we're out recruiting," said Baldwin.

Petelos says we must not be lax now that we're in good standing. Too much is at stake. "We need to put a sign up that says 'Jefferson county is open for business.'"