When the mayors from Alabama’s five largest cities formed an alliance in 2014, they knew there was power in numbers when it came to creating a strategy for developing a better relationship with legislators and improving their cities. After all, when you combine Montgomery, Mobile, Birmingham, Huntsville, and Tuscaloosa, you’ve accounted for nearly one third of Alabama’s population.
Now, nearly four years later, the “Big 5” mayors still get together four times a year to strategize on how to best improve their cities.
Last week’s “Big 5” meeting was no different, when Huntsville Mayor Tommy Battle, Birmingham Mayor William Bell, Tuscaloosa Mayor Walt Maddox, Mobile Mayor Sandy Stimpson and Montgomery Mayor Todd Strange met with Governor Kay Ivey, along with key cabinet members and state legislative leadership, to discuss several priorities with lawmakers this legislative session.
“We recognize the impact policies crafted at the state level have on our cities and communities, and as leaders of local governments, we remain close to the people and know what policies will work and which ones will not,” said Battle. “We’re here to ensure our voices are heard. We look forward to working with the Governor’s office and State Legislature to craft policies that benefit our communities, promote economic development and provide a higher quality of life for citizens.”
Meeting in Montgomery on Thursday, the group said maintaining and improving Alabama’s infrastructure tops their list of collective concerns since it is essential to economic development. While cities allocate larger portions of their budgets to local infrastructure, state and federally controlled highways, byways and interchanges must keep up with the demands of commerce — and that falls on the state Legislature.
In keeping with the jobs and economic development theme, the mayors urged legislators to pass a bill renewing the historic tax credit, a proven component to cities’ growth and development. They also encouraged increasing the cap available for economic development in the Alabama Jobs Act.
Watch a press conference from the “Big 5” meeting below: