Originally established in 2004 as the Cultural Alliance of Greater Birmingham, Create Birmingham is the only local agency focused on Birmingham’s creative industries. By 2013, the creative landscape in Birmingham and the region looked very different than it had in 2003. That year, the organization commissioned a study to help determine where it should focus its efforts.
The study found that, in 2013, approximately 23,000 creative workers – 4.68% of Jefferson County’s overall jobs – were generating $558 million in household earnings. And those annual earnings were predicted to grow by more than $5.5 million every year. With this realization, they embarked on a new initiative to map a growth plan for Birmingham’s creative industries.
They realized they needed to invest in art—and the creative industry more broadly—as business.
To this end, Create Birmingham launched their first CO.STARTERS cohort in 2014.
In partnering with CO.STARTERS, Create Birmingham has adopted an economic development strategy that positions their community for long-term success: cultivating native creative talent.
Many cities look to large companies to create jobs in their towns by setting up shop locally. While corporations do occasionally move to new cities, relying on corporate relocations as a job creation strategy or economic development tool can be frustrating and disappointing for all involved, including the local economic development department.