contact@watkinslawfirm.com |  
(205) 701-5536
English

Our Blog

BIRMINGHAM READY FOR A FOOD FIGHT!

Apr 27 2018 Staff

Originally published as a guest writer on ComebackTown and on AL.com

 

There’s a four letter ‘F‘ word that could help define Birmingham’s future–but as you might expect–it’s not the one you’re probably thinking.

However, when I tell you the word, it still won’t be in the context of what you might expect.

The word is “food,’ but not our nationally recognized upscale restaurants.

In fact we receive so much positive press about our incredible food scene—that many of us seem to take the constant drum of good news for granted.

After all, Birmingham has been named one of America’s top food cities by the national restaurant guide Zagat.com. for the past three years. It’s getting to be expected and kind of boring.

Yes, our restaurants should be discussed as part of our future—but Birmingham has a powerful food history and potential that many of our  business leaders and economic development folks seem to have overlooked.

Not just upscale restaurants

Food and beverage companies like Golden FlakeCoca-Cola UnitedRed DiamondRoyal CupBarber DairiesBuffalo RockMoore’s MarinadeDales SeasoningMrs. Stratton’s Salads, and Bud’s Best Cookies have been taking advantage of Alabama’s strong food production and distribution ecosystem for decades.

In addition, Alabama and Birmingham have a strong history in the food service industry as well, creating brands like Milo’s Hamburgers and Milo’s Famous Tea Co., Sneaky Pete’sJack’s Family RestaurantsDreamland Bar-B-QueJim-N-NicksZoe’s Kitchen, which had a $276 million IPO in 2014, and Taziki’s Mediterranean Cafe, which seems to be on a similar trajectory and continuing with up and comers such as Taco MamaUrban CookhouseMaki Fresh, and Wasabi Juan’s.

In fact, even the most recent blockbuster tech sector success story from Birmingham, Shipt, which was purchased by Target for $550 million in December, is a food related company with a technology twist.

Economic developers often overlook Birmingham’s food potential

Unfortunately, despite media praise and a history of success, potential for local growth in the almost $1.5 trillion national food industry has continued to be an afterthought in the eyes of many of Birmingham’s most influential economic developers.

Since its inception in 2016, the Birmingham Business Alliance’s Blueprint 2020 has contained eight (8) target industry clusters “which are deemed to be most compatible with the Birmingham region’s core strengths, and therefore the best opportunities for future growth” including:

  • Metal Manufacturing,
  • Machinery Manufacturing,
  • Automotive,
  • Financial & Insurance Services,
  • Life Sciences,
  • Information Technology & Analytical Instruments,
  • Chemicals,
  • Aerospace

The only mention of anything related to the “globally focused” food industry, is relegated to a footnote that says:

Of these eight target clusters, the first six are considered to be primary, while the last two, chemicals and aerospace, are secondary. Additionally, there are other sectors, such as food processing and related technologies, which already have a significant presence in the Birmingham region and offer potential for future growth.”

There is certainly nothing wrong with the eight target clusters, as they all have merit as well, but many of them are industries that have strong clusters in other parts of the country.  And like many of those clusters, food certainly has other competitive regional clusters as well, however southern food is almost undeniably world known, even revered, which is a huge advantage for companies seeking to find a place in the market and unique among most of the targeted clusters.

Existing Ecosystem

Probably even more important to successful growth within food cluster however, is the existing functional ecosystem for emerging companies in the food sector.  Thanks to the long history of successful food industry companies, Birmingham has an abundance of resources, including a network of experienced senior level executives, creatives, financiers, professional service providers, skilled local workforce, and potential industry partners that foster growth companies.

The existence of these network resources are not trivial matters, as a quick Google search for “startup ecosystem” will quickly lead you to dozens and dozens of scholarly and popular articles on how to build a successful ecosystem.  Many communities all over the world are attempting to figure out and apply the formula, so they can build such a system to support their own local companies.  Birmingham is lucky enough to have one such ecosystem in the food industry that has grown up organically and been successful without a lot of organized support from key community leaders.

If Birmingham leaders truly want to help Birmingham be the best it can be, then recognizing and supporting one of its unique growth creating industries would probably be a good idea.

Rate this item
(0 votes)
Blog Use: Disclaimer

**This blog site is published on behalf of and reflects the personal views of the article authors, in their individual capacity. It does not necessarily represent the views of the law firm or any clients, and is not sponsored or endorsed by them. The purpose of this blog site is to assist in dissemination of information about general business and interesting legal topics, but no representation is made about the accuracy of the information. The information contained in this blog site is provided only as general information for education purposes, and blog topics may or may not be updated subsequent to their initial posting.

**By using this blog site you understand that this information is not provided in the course of an attorney-client relationship and is not intended to constitute legal advice. This blog site should not be used as a substitute for competent legal advice from a licensed attorney in your state. This blog site is not intended to be advertising and Joshua M. Watkins does not wish to represent anyone desiring representation based upon viewing this blog site in a state where this blog site fails to comply with all laws and ethical rules of that state.

**No representation is made that the quality of legal services to be performed is greater than the quality of legal services performed by other lawyers.

 

In a world that has become increasingly complicated and uncertain, you deserve an attorney who is result-oriented, responsive and respected. 

 

 

Contact Info

4000 Eagle Point Corporate Dr. 
Birmingham, AL 35242

(205) 701-5536

 This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Office Hours 9.00 am to 5.00 pm
By Appointment Only

Twitter Feed

I'm a big fan of LLCs making an "S" election, particularly under the 2018 tax changes, but there are some traps for… https://t.co/TiGyPJQ8UZ
RT @Cahaba_River: The 2018 Cahaba Lily season is beginning as the first blooms emerge! We have seen more turtles than lily blossoms on the…
Follow Joshua Watkins on Twitter