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Bringing in the experts: IBM executives coming to Birmingham to help shape neighborhood redevelopment plans

8012130.png By Joseph D. Bryant | jbryant@al.com

on June 30, 2014 at 9:33 AM, updated June 30, 2014 at 9:38 AM


15319579-large.jpgMark Almond/AL.com

BIRMINGHAM, Alabama -- The city of Birmingham will get some expert assistance from IBM after winning the corporation's "Smarter Cities Challenge" grant.

The program brings IBM experts to town for three weeks to analyze and recommend ways that the city can develop and enhance neighborhood redevelopment programs. The services, provided free to the city, are valued at $500,000.

Birmingham's RISE program will detail strategies to eliminate blight, increase property values and strengthening neighborhoods.


IBM experts from July 7 to July 25 will live in Birmingham and examine city services such as administration, transportation, environment, education and urban planning.

"We see this as proof that Birmingham's renaissance is showing up on the national radar," Mayor William Bell in a statement. "IBM's assistance will help us continue the positive results that are already underway."

Birmingham was one of three U.S. cities and 16 municipalities worldwide selected for the award. The other two U.S. cities are Baton Rouge and Dallas.

One key feature of redevelopment, creation of a land bank authority, is already underway following City Council approval in May.

The land bank authority will bundle several tracts of property and offer them to entities for redevelopment. On a smaller scale, residents could also obtain nearby abandoned lots if they agree to care for the property. Some of the land may also be used for community gardens.

IBM's Smarter Cities Challenge began in 2010 and has assisted more than 100 municipalities around the world.

"We're extremely proud of this distinction," Bell said. "It marks the continuation of the momentum throughout the city. We're deeply grateful to IBM and look forward to their guidance over this intense three week period."


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