Existing businesses bringing jobs, money to JeffCo

Major announcements, like Airbus, come with major dollars. Unfortunately, one hasn't come out of Jefferson County recently. But the county is still topping economic development lists.

The state and local chambers say Birmingham is actually in the running for some large unnamed projects. But it's the expansion of existing businesses that is bringing new jobs and money to the bank.

Mercedes, Hyundai, Honda,{}ThyssenKrupp and now Airbus chose Alabama but not Jefferson County.

The Birmingham Business Alliance says that's ok.

"I{}don't ever look at it as a loss for us because a lot of times you aren't competitive, you can't compete for that kind of project," said Rick Davis, the BBA's vice president of economic development.

But{}Davis{}says the chamber can fight for its existing businesses.

"85 percent of your job growth comes form existing business. We could go around the world and recruit companies but we need to go across the street and meet with the{}CEO of the company that's already here," he said.

That approach brought in 15 hundred jobs and 214 million dollars last year. Half of those jobs and 192 million dollars came to Jefferson County alone.

According to the statistics compiled by the University of Alabama's Center for Business and Economic Research, it made Birmingham number one in construction investment and first in economic prosperity in the Southeast. However, it fell behind Montgomery and Mobile when it came to the value of goods produced.

"While{}I think there are some obstacles that have to be overcome, it's certainly not insurmountable," said Alabama Secretary of Commerce Greg Canfield.

Canfield{}says the obstacle is bankruptcy. But with the Norfolk Southern hub in McCalla on the way, he believes new businesses will start looking at the county.

"This is going to have a tremendous impact on the entire state and{}I can assure you it will have a positive effect on aerospace presence in the Jefferson County area," said Canfield.

Davis agrees.

"Put that infrastructure in place and the growth will come," he said.

Both the{}BBA and state want the northern beltline to be completed. They say it will open even more sites up for development.