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Friday, April 6, 2012

Top Jobs and the Road to Getting There


In a recent link to a PowerPoint by the Birmingham Business Journal, I found a list of the highest paying jobs in the Birmingham market.  The list includes an interesting category from mining and geological engineering coming in at 25 in rank at an income of $92,670 to your general Internist being the number one paying job in the Birmingham market coming in at $246,460. 
          The specifics of the survey pull from the US Bureau of Labor and Statistics.  The rank order for Birmingham is as follows: 
          25 Mining and Geological Engineers $92,670
          24 Purchasing Managers $94,600
          23 Medical and Health Services Managers $95, 580
          22 Marketing Managers $102,910
          21 Advertising and Promotions Managers $103,950
          20 Education Administrators, Post Secondary $103,970
          19 Sales Managers, $104,900
          18 Human Resource Managers $106.090
          17 Computer and Information Resource Managers $108,060
          16 Architectural and Engineering Managers $111, 010
          15 General and Operations Managers $111,530
          14 Pharmacists $111,720
          13 Aerospace Engineers $112,090
          12 Financial Managers $117,770
          11 Administrative Law Judges, Adjudicators and Hearing Officers
                   $137,840
          10 Lawyers $138,130
          9  General Pediatricians $138,670
          8  Family and General Medicine $142,490
          7  Biological Teachers (postsecondary) $150,260
          6  Anesthesiologists $155, 150
          5  Psychiatrist $158,900
          4  General Dentists $179,770
          3  Chief Executives $198,220
          2  Physicians and Surgeons $210,700
1       General Internists $246,460 
          As you read through the list you may be struck by the dollar figures, but I challenge you to think a bit deeper.  The devil is in the details as they say, and not factored into these numbers are a few key questions that are not discussed in the absolute number.  Take a minute to think about two key business concepts.  The first is Opportunity Cost and the second is the Time Value of Money.  
          For the most part, every job title on this list requires some level of graduate work with rare exception.  This means seeing your time through high school, college, and then graduate school before really getting down to the business of work that pays a higher income.  To accomplish this, there is a high level of focus, sacrifice and at least some delayed gratification.  
          A simple example is the opportunity cost of blowing off studying for the long weekend to head to the beach vs. the payoff of taking your books, relaxing, but remaining focused on the work that waits for you when you return.  The idea is simple.  What costs more in the long run? 
The idea of the time value of money means that for every minute or dollar that you invest today, you will see dividends in the future that will be missed if you choose to not invest your time or money.  This too is a no-brainer, but it is the rare person indeed who is willing to forgo what they “want or deserve” today for some future reward like interest on money, or the fruits of some hard work toward an education for a better job.  
As you review the above list of top Birmingham earners, think not on their income, but the sacrifice that was made to achieve this type of opportunity.  In addition, think about the work that starts at 630 or 700AM and is never really over, but the person tries to end it around 12 or 13 hours later.  These jobs require not just dedication but patience.  It may take years for many of these jobs to create enough revenue to pay off the academic debt incurred on the road to the role.  Also, don’t overlook the value of all of the additional jobs that these earners create or support.   
In business, in school and at home, begin today to value education and expect hard work.  This is how true change begins.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Show me the REAL money


An economy certainly needs money so that goods and services can be exchanged. If there is too little money goods will remain unsold, prices will fall and we call this deflation. If the scarcity of money becomes serious, eventually the economy will go into recession, that is, production comes to a halt, people lose their jobs, and misery starts to reign. So it is very important that the amount of money in circulation is at all times sufficient for people to buy the goods and services that are being offered. 
            So where do we get the money?  What determines the value of our money?  The answer lies a great deal in the type of government under which you live.  A little research this week uncovered that there are four types of money 1) Representative money 2) Confidence money 3) Intrinsic money and 4) Fiat money.  Hmmmmm. 
Representative money has no value on its own, but is backed by something of value like US gold or silver certificates that have an equal value of real gold or silver.  Confidence money is money that is worth whatever people think its worth and its value is determined by the stability of the government that issues it like the US Dollar or the British Pound.  Intrinsic money has its own value because it is made of something valuable like a gold or silver coin such as the South African Krugerrand.  Fiat money is basically worthless and is used because the government demands it as payment and punishes those who don't pay in the government's prescribed form, such as the Russian Ruble in the 1980s.  At that time the international markets wouldn't even trade in it.
The difference between confidence and fiat money can most easily be seen in the inflation rate. Sooner or later all confidence monies become fiat, and all fiat monies super inflate until they are worthless. Basically, if you make more of something, its value decreases.  Sound familiar? 
This brings me to my visit this week to the Birmingham Branch of the Federal Reserve.  It was fascinating to learn a bit more about the Fed, and I came away with the feeling that I really should not only have known some of these facts better, but I certainly should pay a lot more attention to them as well.  The Federal Reserve is a Quasi-Federal structure comprised of 12 Districts of which Atlanta is one, and the Birmingham office is a sub section.  The Federal Reserve is a politically independent entity that is charged with setting monetary policy with the long view in mind.  It is accountable to Congress and is weighted with the responsibility of unifying banks and creating stability.  The Fed has a dual mandate by Congress to create price stability and full employment.  
So how are we doing?  Jim Rogers spoke to the Brock School of Business recently in a signature event sponsored by independent investing firm Fi-Plan Partners.  From the moment of introduction, Mr. Rogers has my attention.  Rogers is a famed commodity bull and legendary hedge fund investor credited with running the most successful hedge fund in history, the Quantum Fund, with now billionaire George Soros.  Rogers has a storied career that includes growing up in Demopolis, Alabama, and traveling for 3 years across 116 countries.  His message is direct to “Invest in what you know, and you will not know if you don’t go there.”  If you are interested in the global marketplace and wish to understand what it means here at home, then you must go and see for yourself.  His noted quote of Rudyard Kipling spoke volumes.  Kipling is remembered to say, “What can you know of England if England is all that you know.”  I mention it here because Rogers reminded the audience that the Pound Sterling was the standard in the 19th century.  We see the US dollar as the standard in the 20th century, and Rogers predicted that the Chinese official currency of the Renmimbi will be the benchmark in the 21st Century.    Rogers opinioned that that the Chinese, while Communist, are still the best capitalists in the world.  They save 35% of their income compared to 3-4% savings here in the US.  China is our largest customer and continues to grow by leaps and bounds. 
Rogers charged the audience to learn about currency to better appreciate the economic turmoil in the world.  The largest creditor nations of China, Korea and Japan are a force to be reckoned with by the largest debtor nation of the United States.  We aren’t just the largest debtor in the world, but we hold the dubious distinction of being the largest debtor in history.  
A telling event certainly, and one that I am very glad to have participated in as I seek to understand the dynamics of not only business, but competition and planning.  

Monday, February 27, 2012

Business Survival Lessons learned from the Wild


I came upon some interesting research out of Cranfield University in the UK, one of Europe’s leading Schools of Management.  As reported in BizJournals and Portfolio.com, a better understanding of animal survival instincts could improve a company’s chances of business survival this according to a new study by Cranfield School of Management. The research explores what business leaders preparing for hard times can learn from solutions that have evolved in the animal kingdom over billions of years.
Dr Tazeeb Rajwani, Lecturer in Strategic Management at Cranfield is one of the report’s co-authors. He commented: “It is too easy to blame market turbulence or unexpected events for a company’s poor performance but this is often the response of managers to circumstances beyond their control. As a consequence, businesses fail to develop strategies for coping with crisis. Animals thrive in environments that are much more deadly than the marketplaces that businesses operate in, so are ideal subjects to learn from. Our research identified four basic coping capabilities and survival strategies that businesses can develop to survive and thrive in unpredictable environments.”  Other researchers include Professor Patrick Reinmoeller from Cranfield School of Management and Professor Thomas Lawton from EM Lyon.  EM Lyon has a campus presence in France, Geneva and Shanghai.
The four survival strategies explored in the study were:
Bear strategy – embracing hibernation capabilities: displaying a superior capacity to conserve energy or costs is chosen by businesses in the tourist and farming industries whose services will have varying demand throughout the year. During the high season, all their resources are used, with the knowledge that seasonality will cause a slump in demand for the rest of the year. Understanding how you accumulate your resources, and slow energy usage before getting hit by a crisis, is crucial to surviving.  Think Peach farmer in Clanton or Citrus Farmer in Florida.

Lion strategy - building a fighting capability: putting up a fight is the strategy of choice for aggressive companies, specifically in hostile environments that threaten to erode their competitive advantage. They react quickly and can stage vicious attacks if challenged for resources or territory. Organizations in hostile environments that follow lion strategies take a proactive role in going after the weaknesses in competitors and may adopt direct and forceful approaches in doing so. However, these companies can also lose their battles depending on the territory.  Think hostile takeover bid for Vulcan Materials.

Seagull strategy - structuring flight capabilities: moving quickly away from hostile environments to avoid specific threats to survival is another strategy adopted by companies that train hard to become highly tolerant of changes in the business environment. Similar to seagulls, such companies are agile enough to fly away to escape danger and thrive in many different environments such as moving the business unit to another country during a crisis. However, following this strategy requires making hard choices.  Think Caterpillar as they moved out of the USA and now back into the USA.

Shark strategy – developing search capabilities: continuously looking for opportunities and threats and at the same time developing stamina is an approach followed by companies that seek predator’s rewards. Like sharks, companies in hard times can develop instincts about when and how to attack to reclaim territory and search hard for new customers. They can also use their strength and force to fight off competitors.  Think Proview blocking the sale by Apple of iPad in China.  Proview makes iFamily and says that rights bought by Apple to market in Taiwan are in valid in mainland China.

Bear, lion, seagull, shark?  Which instinct will you need in your bag today?  As we learn from an unofficial Marine slogan,   we should prepare to improvise, adapt, overcome ……survive.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Relocating to Georgia is Best Move for Caterpillar


What happens when you manufacture products that the locals can’t afford to buy?  You move to Georgia. 

The announcement last Friday by Caterpillar to move to Georgia will create 1,400 jobs according to Caterpillar representatives and invest $200 million to build small tractors and excavators. Another 2,800 jobs will be created around the country as a result of the new plant.
Officials with Caterpillar say the area's close proximity to the Port of Savannah was a key element in the decision to build the plant in Georgia.
"Forty percent of everything made here will be exported. So there are great American products built by Georgia workers and exported around the world," said Caterpillar CEO Doug Oberhelman and reported by Fox News.
Georgia's Governor Nathan Deal called the plans to build the plant in the state a "great day for Georgia."  You bet it is, and the story is bigger than just jobs in Georgia.  We can learn much from a case study in business from a company like Caterpillar who faces the typical struggles of jobs creation, product life cycle management, demand fluctuations and the pressure of competing in the “right” economic environment.  After all, a lot has changed since this company was founded in 1883. 
Fast forward to 2012 and blink and you will miss the 129 years of growth, subsistence, struggle and creative compromise that a true entrepreneurial organization will shoulder to stay in business.  As did many manufacturing companies, Caterpillar found survival in the downturn of the 1980’s by two methods.  First they moved facilities overseas to take advantage of the stronger US dollar in foreign countries, and second it increased automation efficiencies which mean that it needed fewer workers to do the job.

 In the early 1990s Caterpillar looked to the east and south for its future growth. The company strongly supported both the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT), concluding that the elimination of trade barriers could add sales.  Sales growth in Mexico and outside North America led to ventures in Japan, Russia, China and Vietnam.  Ongoing UAW contract battles led Caterpillar to shift manufacturing to right to work states and foreign countries. 

The cycle of purchase power is now coming full circle it seems.  With the continuing economic downturn, companies are realizing that if they manufacture overseas, then the people here at home who are unemployed because they lost their job to an overseas initiative, can’t afford to buy the product.

Several government initiatives may be needed to make the “purchase power” part of this picture whole though.  Yes we need tax reform.  Yes we need a pro-business environment.  But what we really need is an educated worker to do the job. 

As we have written here before, the manufacturing worker today is very different than that of 50 years ago.  Often in a white coat and not just a hard hat, these workers need strong high school educations where graduation is expected.  Caterpillar is not new to this dance and the company expects an educated worker.

In 1968, Caterpillar was early to enlist in a government-sponsored program to hire and train people considered to be unemployable. This program was directed to persons who had been out of work for extended periods. The hirees would work half of the day at entry-level positions and spend the other half of the day learning job skills for better-paying jobs.  According to Fox News, Georgia was among a number of states competing for the new plant. Ground breaking is expected to take place in 2012. Production is slated to begin late in 2013. Officials say the state granted about $45 million in incentives to close the deal. 

Companies like Caterpillar are looking for logistics, workforce, speed and efficiency.  North Carolina was a hot contender for the Caterpillar deal according to Jim Bradshaw, the Executive Director of the Brunswick County Economic Development Commission, but they lost due to logistics.  A 50 foot channel is needed for their shipping needs, and the current 42 feet channel at the Port of Wilmington is not adequate.  Our own Mobile Bay can have a depth of 75 feet, but on average is 12 feet, according to the World Atlas

Alabama was a contender for Caterpillar in 2010 as reported by Al.com, but we still had some work to do at that time to attract business.  Work continues, and as late as last Thursday, the House of Representatives passed a key job-growth bill known as House Bill 159.  House members passed a constitutional amendment that allows voters to give the Governor and the Alabama Development Office the authority to offer incentives like those used on the Mercedes project to recruit new industry to Alabama and prevent existing industry from leaving the state.  According to Representative Barry Mask and reported by Stephen Crews in DothanFirst,We're trying to give our state and local economic developers more tools to help grow existing businesses and land new industry, both of which result in more jobs for Alabamians." Mask continued, "I was pleased to work with colleagues from both parties to make this bill better so that voters can be confident in the plan we put before them."  Opposition came from the Alabama Education Association and the Alabama Democratic Party. 

Crews also reported that Speaker Hubbard said, "It's hard to believe anyone would be against bi-partisan efforts to boost job growth".  "When the economy grows, our education budget grows, and we have more funds to put toward schools. More jobs and more money for education means everybody wins. Most importantly, the people win over the special interests."

This constitutional amendment and enabling legislation will now move to the Senate.  A list of Alabama State Incentives for Business may be found at businessfacilities.com.  Let’s just get it done. 

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Honest vs. Dishonest Debate


What did he just say? I am half held in amusement, half held in stunned silence at some of the things that political figures, community leaders, and even nice friends at church may say.  Perhaps it is a good time to take a minute and discern the accidental Freudian faux pas from the intentional circumspection of the truth.  I found an interesting resource with a quick Google search of “honest debate.”  I found a site that you may wish to spend some time with called Intellectually Honest and Intellectually Dishonest Debate Tactics hosted by author John T. Reed, a coach, author, West Point Graduate and Harvard MBA. 

            Very interesting insight in to how to manage the most basic to the most complex conversation and I highly recommend a glimpse at his work.  According to Reed, there are really two kinds of discussion:  One that is intellectually honest and one that is intellectually dishonest.  The measure of the two is simple.  The honest discussion is grounded in fact or logic.  Period, and end of statement.  This means that you can fairly point out an error in your opponent based only on fact or logic.  If you do not use fact or logic then you are being intellectually dishonest, which is a fancy way of saying that you are twisting the truth and even lying.  According to the assessment and lengthy list by Reed, there are a lot of ways to twist or play with the truth to get your way and these methods achieve intellectually dishonest debate.  The goal for the intellectually dishonest debater is to not make his or her point only mind you, but simply to get his or her way.  Think about this next time you are talking/arguing with someone.  Step away from the heat of the moment and try to state only the fact or the logic.  Does your point hold?  Or do you retreat to one of the thirty plus tactics used to get a debate or discussion off track by intellectually dishonest means. 

There are quite a few strategies according to Reed.  They can include name calling, changing the subject, questioning the motives of the person, stating irrelevant facts, quoting hearsay, pulling in an unqualified expert opinion, being vague, stereotyping, cult of personality, sloganeering, creating a scapegoat, claiming privacy to information, arousing envy, innuendo, redefining words, rejecting logic as opinion, fake laughter, intimidation, peer approval, mockery and political correctness are but just a few on the list. 

Let me give you a few examples that Reed shared on his site.  Start thinking about this the next time you watch the news or subject yourself to the ongoing political debates and see how many that you can find now that your eyes are a bit open to the technique.  Keep it in mind at your next board or council meeting too.  Intellectual dishonesty is just second nature sometimes.  “Intellectually-dishonest debate tactics are typically employed by dishonest politicians, lawyers of guilty parties, dishonest salespeople, cads, cults, and others who are attempting to perpetrate a fraud,” shares Reed. 

Name calling and changing the subject is a fairly straight forward technique to derail an argument by minimizing the credibility of an opponent.  “Never mind that the facts are true, let’s just make him look bad” thinks the intellectually dishonest person.  Questioning the motives of an opponent may be clever but it is also insincere when it comes to debate.  “They just want to sell their product,” may be true, but if the facts are accurate then by all means, sell away.

Hearsay or the support of the support of unqualified expert opinion is a technique that should be easy to pick up on, but it can sneak by if you aren’t watching.  Look for the ads in the paper that are set up to read like an article or press release. 

What about sloganeering?  People love to fall for this one.  It is so much easier to grasp on to a slogan or phrase than to take the time to understand the reason or logic.  Does “Change you can believe in” ring any bells.  Following on this idea is the “cult of personality” where instead of sifting though logic and facts to choose a leader, someone votes because “I like him” or “I dislike him less” as the case may be.  Also, look out for “claims of information privacy” in discussions or debate.  Really?  If you can’t divulge that  incredibly private and negotiated contract that is at the heart of the point of decision or purchase, perhaps you should just move on to the next offer completely.

Stereotyping is a technique used to leverage a win too.  If I label you as too Ivory Tower and Too Smart for your own good, then you probably can’t understand the “real world” problem that we are dealing with here, so your ideas aren’t going to be relevant.  It is always best to keep to the facts, and the person that you are overlooking or minimizing may just have the missing key.

How about redefining words to suite your agenda and win the discussion?  In this technique the debater uses a word that helps him, but that does not apply, by redefining it to suit his purposes, like calling government spending “investment.”  Taking words or quotes out of context is a common strategy too, like the recent debate of whether or not Romney really “doesn’t care about the poor.”

Words mean things, and it can be a challenge to stick to the facts, and to require our leaders to stick to the facts.  As we move in to our election cycle, stay alert, and hold the speaker accountable.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Governor Bentley, the North Jefferson area and Your Chamber of Commerce


“Communicate, Collaborate, Connect” said Charlotte Reach, incoming President of the Gardendale Chamber of Commerce and Vice President of First Commercial Bank in Gardendale.  It is important to begin with the end in mind and those words of challenge bring in to focus the requirement for success for our North Jefferson community as we begin 2012.  Adding strength to her words and those of her team, our Fultondale Chamber was pleased to have a presence of support at the noted visit by Governor Robert Bentley to our North Jefferson area where Reach accepted her new role as Gardendale Chamber President and contributed her comments. 

            The important role of a Chamber of Commerce took stage with the visit of Governor Bentley.  Bentley began by reminding the audience that he too, like a Chamber of Commerce, is a servant leader.  As a servant leader, Bentley thanked the support of small business and the critical role that business owners have played in jobs creation.  Bentley said, “After one year in office, I need to applaud YOU.  We now have 40,000 more people working here in Alabama.”  We have come through difficult times certainly, but, “with a continued Pro-Business Legislation and efforts with the Immigration Bill, …as well as addressing the education bureaucracy which has held us back, we will continue to create jobs,” said Bentley.

            Bentley shared that we should expect changes to our State budget in 2012 with respect to education, transportation and health.    He committed that money would not be taken from the classroom, and attention would be given to the 50% of funds that “doesn’t make it to the classroom now.”  Charter School efforts will move forward, because in his words, “the child is most important.”  Adding to the list will be efforts with road and bridge repair.  “We need to repair and preserve what we have now.  Toll roads may be an option to generate funds to accomplish this,” Bentley said.  And on health, he stated simply, “We are a fat State.”  Now don’t get offended Dear Reader, he is a doctor after all.  He challenged the group to make their dollars count.  “If you are going to spend money on healthcare, then make it count,” he said.  There is a need for Alabama to have measured results and a return on investment assessed for health outcomes.  He added, “It just costs less to be healthy.”

            Speaking of cost and funding, the General Fund is down 463 million from 2011.  The education budget looks good, but the General Fund, not so much.  As the economy grows, the tax collected will grow that General Fund, so it is critical to keep the embers of growth burning.  But in 2012, Bentley promised a real budget, and there are no Federal dollars to prop it up this year.  Governor Bentley told the audience that he is not a “caretaker” Governor.  “I want change,” he said, and added “I want us to get better.”  Governor Bentley called on the Chamber of Commerce and Small Business, as leaders in the community, to participate and be involved. 

            Getting involved with your business community through our Chamber of Commerce organizations is easy.  Not a member or involved just yet?  Then please mark your calendar for Thursday, February 9th, 2012 for the next joint meeting of the Gardendale and Fultondale Chambers of Commerce as they co-host Mr. Moore Hallmark from the US Chamber of Commerce.  Hallmark is the Executive Director of the Southeastern Region and oversees the congressional and public affairs for eight southeastern states: Alabama, Georgia, Florida, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Virginia.  We will meet at the Gardendale Civic Center and all business owners, civic and community leaders from the entire North Jefferson area are encouraged to attend.  Moore will be presenting on the important role of the Chamber of Commerce at a local level, and what the Regional and Federal initiatives include. 

As we have asked in this column before, “Do you really know what good looks like?”  Initiatives such as the Alabama Community of Excellence as well as understanding accreditation requirements of the US Chamber of Commerce give credence, credibility and yes clout, to what your Chamber of Commerce can do for you and your business.  

Friday, January 27, 2012

2012 Economic Forecast, Birmingham Business Journal and Samford Brock School of Business


I phone?  Check.  Business Plan?  Check.  Clients? Check.  Crystal Ball?  I wish!  What are the drivers of business as we enter into 2012?  According to speakers for the recent Birmingham Business Journal event, they include the European Debt Crisis, China, Hiring and Labor Force Expectations, Growth issues, tax policy and the election.
An esteemed foursome of speakers addressed the potentials for business as we move in to 2012 at the Birmingham Business Journal’s 2012 Economic Forecast Panel held at Samford University  Brock School of Business this past week.  The discussion was similar to last years event, and according to the panel,  the slow pace of economic recovery last year will remain relatively unchanged in 2012 and could continue into 2013 or longerSamford University.
The four panelists included Sara Helms,  an economics professor and research associate at the Lister Hill Center for Health Policy; Ahmad Ijaz, director of economic forecasting at the University of Alabama Center for Business and Economic Research, John Norris, a wealth management and investment services professional at Oakworth Capital Bank, and Rick Davis, senior vice president of economic development for the Birmingham Business Alliance.
ncertainty stemming from indecision and political infighting in Washington and Europe’s sovereign debt crisis were listed as primary factors causing the slow growth.  According to Norris, “Europe is a problem that is a long time coming.”  Ijaz interjected that, “An attempt with Europe to have one currency but 17 different monetary policies will continue to struggle, and perhaps cease to exist.”  With respect to Europe and debt problems, the question is will Europe hang together or splinter apart.   “The great unknown is China with its slow down and it will have a profound impact,” Norris continued.  Citing an anticipated slow down in China’s high-speed economic growth that is expected to further impact the global economy, they projected the slow economic recovery would continue in 2013 as the private sector continues de-leveraging.
On a state level, the economy is growing, but very slowly with a suggested 2.5-3.0% growth for this year and a modest 1-1.5% growth in employment.  Davis challenged the group to “Stop calling this a Recovery.  We have not gotten out of the woods yet, and we are still ringing distressed assets out.”  “If you want 4 percent growth, you may have to wait a few years,” said panelist John Norris.
One of the greatest challenges for 2012 will be how to manage the uncertainty.  Most shift in to neutral when the future is colored with unpredictable waves.  From hiring to predictions of growth, much is unknown.  “Most businesses are just not sure what capital investments they should make or whether they should hire,” Ijaz said. 
There are two halves to the issue of hiring and labor, and proper worker expectations play a big part in any true recovery.  Some discussion was made by the group to addressing not only high school completion, but also training in tech related jobs.  There was a stated observation of a general unwillingness of new college graduates to take more simple entry level work.  According to Norris, “Goal setting should be to find a way for the (new graduates) to set themselves apart.  Do what is beneath you to get experience.  Focus on work ethic, and start at the bottom with a goal to work up.” Helms added, “The Occupy movement has shown us that people have degrees of very little value.”  Birmingham Business Alliance
The group agreed that recovering job sectors include science, technology, medicine and health services – areas the Birmingham region is well positioned to capitalize upon.  But, commercial real estate, development in any manner related to the bubble, and manufacturing will decline.  What does the future of manufacturing look like then?  The group discussed the public service announcement by Mike Roe of Dirty Jobs and the effort to encourage students to pursue advanced manufacturing jobs.  These high tech manufacturing jobs are high knowledge base, and it “ain’t your Daddy’s work shop” anymore.  White lab coats are taking the place of the fiery shop floor, and the highly trained, tech manufacturing worker is in certainly in demand.
With respect to unemployment, Helms cited 42-45% of the unemployed as having been unemployed for 6 months or longer.  Retraining is needed because your skills start to atrophy.  Davis also cited that 15% of the businesses create 50% of the jobs, and this must change to become sustainable. 
With regard to Banking, Davis describes the state we see now as the “new normal”.  “Actually the new normal is the old normal if you take a brief glance at the past.  Remember when you had to actually save some money for a down payment?” he reminded the group.  Now you must put some skin in the game, and banks are requiring up to 35% collateral for some loans.  Norris reminded the group that banks are “those places that you go to borrow money, when you don’t need any.”   
Turning it around?  This will certainly take some time to accomplish.  Ijaz cited that while the 2001 recession took 44-45 months to recover, the 2008 recession may take 3, 4 or even 5 years. 
These are defining times.  Pay attention, educate yourself, and do a quick roll up of your sleeves to get this one done.