Once business leaders in Birmingham, AL realized COVID-19 would have a swift and fierce impact on their city, a group quickly organized and executed a strategy to lift their community resulting in #BhamStrong – a new initiative created virtually overnight aiming to offer agile, fast-response solutions to the problems that are resulting from the pandemic. The Birmingham Strong Fund – a $2.4 million emergency loan fund – was one of the first tangible deliverables from the effort with $2.2 million of the $2.4 million raised, including $1 million from the Birmingham City Council, with many corporate titans making major gifts to the effort. A total of 246 companies applied for the loan with 68% of those applicants classified as women or minority owned.
The city of Birmingham launched the fund in partnership with the Community Foundation of Greater Birmingham, which will house the fund, and the Birmingham Business Resource Center, which will administer what will become a revolving loan fund. The sheer number of companies and individuals that came together – and the speed of these responses – to support this initiative shows the true essence of the community in Birmingham.
- Staffing firm Vaco worked with #BhamStrong and the Housing Authority of the Birmingham District to quickly pull together a 50-person remote call center staffed by recently displaced hospitality workers. The center will survey thousands of public housing residents to understand their awareness of COVID-19, understand potential symptoms and connect them with the free resources available.
- Launched in just a few days, Local Distancing was founded by a trio of Birmingham residents, all childhood friends and Auburn graduates: Trey Oliver, attorney; Vince Perez, a senior project manager; and Dylan Spencer, web developer and founder of the marketing agency Dylan Spencer & Co. The site, which created a platform for businesses to buy gift cards to a host of local restaurants, featured 100 businesses, mostly in the restaurant and service industry just after two days of going live.
Suzanna Fritzberg, who previously worked as policy director and deputy chief of staff to Mayor Pete Buttigieg in South Bend, IN, has been hired as the founding executive director of #BhamStrong.
Submitted by the Birmingham Business Alliance.
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