Birmingham experiencing a renaissance? - ABC 33/40 - Birmingham News, Weather, Sports

Birmingham experiencing a renaissance?

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BIRMINGHAM - AL -

Retail, entertainment, healthcare. All excellent signs of a vital and revitalized community.

We know it's happening in Birmingham.

Some have even called it a "renaissance" of the Magic City.

Majora Carter sees the renaissance that Birmingham is experiencing. She would know.
She revitalized parts of the Bronx that were once left to waste.

Carter says city leaders have made good moves to lay the foundation. But now, it's time for the Magic City to take that next step.

She says, "I think the next step for Birmingham is understanding where are the economic drivers, what they can be."

For Carter, the formula for success is simple.

"It's all about looking at market needs, and then coming up with an attractive solution that you can build out," she explains.

At UAB, Carter recently shared her own personal experiences about urban revitalization in communities.

She helped take parts of the Bronx neighborhood where she grew up, and transformed sections many thought impossible to save.

"You don't have to move out of your neighborhood to live in a better one," she likes to say. "But, you've got to do that work to understand what are the needs and what's a solution."

Carter says Birmingham and its city leadership is right on the money when it comes to turning old into new.

"I love the fact that they have created more opportunities for more open space within the community. That there are possibilities for incubator programs happening. All of those things I think lean toward the possibilities of there being a kind of revitalization in Birmingham."

Mayor William Bell says the national recognition Birmingham has received is proof that the city is on the right track.

"We build upon the positives and try to eliminate the negatives," says Bell. "Yes we are at the beginning of a renaissance, but we still have a long ways to go."

Bell agrees with Carter about promoting business incubators in communities across metro Birmingham. He cites the Ensley business resource center.

"Now, it's time for us to take that energy that we've developed and that attitude of the 'can do spirit'. Now we are transferring that to areas like the Ensley community, and we're going to try to do that in other areas as well," says Bell.

At REV Birmingham, executive director David Fleming was in the audience when Carter spoke.

"I think we have some examples of similar types of things going on in the city, and in some cases we may be a little ahead of some of her efforts," Fleming says.

Fleming points to the revitalization Birmingham through -- Railroad Park, Regions Field and the business sector.

For Fleming, collaboration is key.

He says, "Those of us interested in community and economic development all need to take inspiration from each other, share best practices and keep reminding each other of what's possible."

Carter offers this suggestion to help Birmingham continue to move forward.

"Start training people to participate in those economic booms as they happen. So they're working to help support the low income people to be participants in the economic changes that are happening," Carter explains.

Carter says a lot of weight also falls on the shoulders of people who live in Birmingham.  And developing community pride is the first step people can have to promoting a sense of ownership in the future of a community.

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