By Opportunity Zone Magazine Staff

Birmingham Mayor Randall Woodfin recently announced the Birmingham Inclusive Growth (BIG) Partnership, a private sector-led, community-focused Opportunity Zone initiative with the aim of elevating Birmingham residents’ quality of life and bringing tangible returns for investors. The BIG Partnership hopes to drive investment into Birmingham’s 24 Opportunity Zones, kicking off with a $24 million American Life building transformation.

“Birmingham is ripe for investment for a diverse portfolio,” says Josh Carpenter, director of the Department of Innovation and Economic Opportunity, which leads the BIG Partnership.

Carpenter says Birmingham was once a booming town for steel production and has maintained many of its historic buildings, allowing real estate investors to find new potential in old assets.

The American Life building, formerly the 1925-constructed Stonewall building, has been vacant for 36 years and will be renovated into 140 workforce housing units through a private investor. The average rent for an apartment in the building is expected to be around $900.

The mayor said through the BIG Partnership they will be able to “market to national investors, who would have never known about the opportunities in Birmingham.’’

The City of Birmingham, in partnership with the Community Investment Board that consists of 11 civic leaders from all nine council districts, as well as Opportunity Alabama, announced an educational campaign to empower residents to participate in the BIG Partnership. The BIG team, Opportunity Alabama, and the city plan to train 500 residents on the fundamentals of Opportunity Zones by June 2020.

“The community is engaged with our approach, so investors can connect to promising entrepreneurs or vessels for neighborhood revitalization quickly and reliably,” says Carpenter.

Carpenter says the BIG Partnership is another way that Birmingham is telling the nation that the city is open for business. During the second week of May more than 250 suppliers will be in town for an aerospace and automotive technology conference.

“We will reveal more than 400 acres at the Birmingham airport in opportunity zones, making a compelling investment location for logistics with proximity to four major highways, three class-one railways and a growing airport,” says Carpenter.