CHANGE Coming for Our Region’s Future

“Change” is a powerful word, one that has special meaning in Birmingham, Alabama. There is a convincing argument to be made that no community in America has undergone more positive economic, social and cultural transformation over the past forty years. By virtually any objective measure, Birmingham has changed for the better.

What has not changed is Birmingham’s success in telling its own compelling story to national and international audiences. As a result, there is little perception in key national markets of the Birmingham region as a place that not only exemplifies the possibilities of progressive change, but is building on the foundation of that change by seeking to develop its financial, logistical and human resources to the fullest extent. Yes, Birmingham has changed; but most of the nation – or, more to the point, most key corporate location decision-makers, most would-be entrepreneurs, most skilled talent in high-growth business fields – does not know that, or care to know it.

Perhaps, then, the most persuasive way of piquing the interest of such people in the Birmingham region is not by telling them that Birmingham has changed, but rather by suggesting that coming to Birmingham will change them. And perhaps the way to accomplish that is through the personal stories of non-Birmingham natives who have found success in our community – and whose success stories, while illustrating the change that defines the Birmingham of today, also serve as a sort of challenge to the viewer in Seattle, Boston, Austin and other leading technology business centers: “Birmingham has changed. Maybe it’s time you changed your perception of what it means to live and do business in Birmingham.”

This line of thought was very much at the forefront of the CHANGE Campaign, a TechBirmingham initiative developed over the past year by a TechBirmingham “accelerator team.” The goal of the initiative was twofold:

  • Develop a television and print advertising campaign to brand the Birmingham region as a center for the expansion and growth of technology-based business and investment by showcasing the advantages of living and working in the region; and,
  • Utilize the campaign as the centerpiece of an external marketing program targeted to selected markets outside of Alabama, to be implemented through a collaborative venture of TechBirmingham, private sector supporters and key media partners.

The first objective was met earlier this month, with completion of three 30-second television ads. Each ad features the personal story of a single individual, each of whom has chosen to make the Birmingham region their home and the base of operations for their technology-related company or endeavor; their stories highlight the diversity of technology, people and opportunity available in the region. Each individual tells their “Birmingham Change” story from a slightly different perspective, hence the tag lines for the ads: Change Your MindChange Your LifestyleChange Your Future. The three executives featured in the ads are:

Milton Silva-Craig
President and COO / Emageon, Inc.

Tanveer Patel
President and Founder / Circle Source Inc.

Jesse Hipps
Executive Director / Heritage Center

The ads were produced with the assistance of Birmingham’s NBC-13 and independent director Chris Conroy. They were “premiered” at the October 27 meeting of the TechBirmingham Board of Directors, and are the subject of an article in the November 19 edition of the Birmingham Business Journal.

With the completed ads “in the can” and the complementary print campaign nearing completion, the next step for the CHANGE accelerator team is identifying a media partner (or partners) and securing private sector support for implementation of the campaign. That process is underway at this writing, with hopes of beginning to air the CHANGE Campaign by early Spring 2006.

Mark Kelly
TechBirmingham Board of Directors

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