For years, the Economic Development Partnership of Alabama had a bird’s-eye view of the state’s largest city. From its home on top of Red Mountain in the august-sounding World Business Center, EDPA projected an image befitting Alabama’s only statewide private economic development entity.
In January, EDPA came down from the mountain, planting its new headquarters at ground zero of Birmingham’s modern renaissance.
From the former Merita bread bakery (now the Bakers Row development), EDPA neighbors Railroad Park and Regions Field at the corner of First Avenue South and 14th Street. EDPA is now a street-level organization and everything from the new headquarters’ décor to its 34-foot-long video wall speaks to the change.
“Moving down here is as much about image as it is anything,” EDPA CEO Steve Spencer said. “This part of town is becoming the hub of activity.”
When EDPA or the Alabama Department of Commerce are hosting a prospective company at a meeting in the new EDPA facility, Spencer said the story of what’s happening outside the building is apparent but so are the multiple successes playing continuously on the video screen.
“When companies come here and visit, we want them to get an impression that this is what it’s like,” Spencer said.
And companies are visiting and leaving impressed.
“We’ve got some great companies looking at the state right now,” Spencer said. “We, of course, work in concert, with (the Alabama Department of) Commerce. We don’t compete. We don’t do the same things. We support them, they support us. We work together very well.”
From Innovation Depot on the other side of the railroad tracks to UAB two blocks to the south, EDPA’s new location helps paint a picture for the kind of companies the city and state are looking to attract.
“We’ve got two or three companies looking at the state right now that are high-tech companies,” Spencer said. “All it will take is one and that opens the door, just like Mercedes opened the door for the automotive industry. We just get one, and it will open the door for that entire industry, that entire segment to come to Alabama.”
As impressive as the location is in Birmingham, Spencer said there are similar hubs of activity in a number of states throughout the state and they can tell that story, too.
“This is kind of the way you attract people now. Our objective is to get people to move to the state,” he said. “Now, getting companies to move here is great, but getting people to move here is how you get companies to move here.”
By literally projecting success on 320 square feet with more than 1 million pixels, the state’s successes are on full display 24 hours per day.
“This was our way of being able to project – in a little bit of a dramatic way – what’s going on in the state,” Spencer said. “And it projects out into the street. You don’t have to be in a meeting in the building to see it. In fact, that’s not what it’s for at all.”
Spencer said EDPA is seeking additional footage that helps tell the state’s success stories from manufacturing to research to food and culture.