See Why the Magic City is the Ideal Place for Your Startup
While California used to be a startup’s dream, you no longer have to go to Silicon Valley to find the best
tech business scene. Here in Birmingham, Alabama, tech companies are thriving, with support from city
leaders and business innovators dedicated to growing an ecosystem built around visionary thinking and
a community-centered mindset. Just a small sampling of Birmingham’s collaborative spirit includes Sloss
Tech, the South’s premier tech conference; Innovation Depot’s continued mission of providing tech
founders a community and affordable office space; and TechBirmingham’s role as an instrumental
association focused on the promotion and growth of tech companies and the city’s ecosystem.
Recently, Birmingham was named one of only 31 tech hubs in the country, and the only city in the
Southeast with this distinction. With over 120 tech startups currently calling Birmingham home, the
secret is out—not just in the burgeoning business opportunities available, but also the quality of life,
affordability, and amazing amenities awaiting in Birmingham. Here a just a few reasons why Birmingham
tech startups and their employees embrace a charming life in the Magic City.
The average commute time in Birmingham is surprisingly short, making it an attractive place to live and
work without having to commit to extended car time. Less stress on the road equals more meaningful
office hours for your tech startup employees, a crucial component for success when getting a new
business off the ground.
According to data from the U.S. Census Bureau, the average one-way commute in Birmingham is 21.5
minutes, which is substantially shorter than the national average of 26.4 minutes. This means that
residents of Birmingham spend around 20% less time commuting compared to those in other major
metropolitan areas, allowing for a better work-life balance and more time for family and leisure
activities. Five minutes per workday round trip means an extra 43 hours each calendar year where
you’re spared from the stress of traffic. The city’s efficient commute times contribute to a higher quality
of life for its residents and make Birmingham even more desirable for its workforce.
A Budget-Friendly Cost of Living
When starting a business, every dollar counts. Luckily, Birmingham offers a decidedly advantageous cost
of living when compared to many other cities. This benefits tech businesses by helping to attract
talented team members from all over the country who care about making the most of their hard-earned
money. Additionally, a cheaper cost of living benefits founders by putting them in a better financial
position, with the ability to stretch their funding farther than counterparts in more costly cities.
With housing expenses 20% below than the national average, utility prices 2% lower, and transportation
costs an eye-opening 10% less than the norm, Birmingham provides a budget-friendly environment for
all of its citizens. Additionally, the city’s grocery prices are 8% lower than the national average, and
healthcare costs are 1% lower in what is one the country’s best medical communities for research and
care. The BestPlaces Cost of Living index indicates that the total cost of necessities in Birmingham is 13
percent lower than the U.S. average and 3.4 percent lower than the average for the rest of Alabama.
This makes Birmingham an appealing option for those seeking a more affordable lifestyle without
compromising on quality.
When people think of the South, they imagine Southern cooking and soul food, but Birmingham’s dining
scene is so much more than just grits and sweet tea. In fact, the city has enough award-winning chefs
and restaurants to rival some of the best food cities in the country, with seven James Beard honorees
who make Birmingham a true dining destination.
Adam Evans has been recognized as Best Chef in the South for his seafood staple, Automatic Seafood
and Oysters, where patrons feast on snapper, swordfish, and, of course, the oysters. Make a reservation
well in advance for a memorable date night dinner or Sunday brunch. This popular spot was also
nominated in 2020 for Best New Restaurant, and since then open tables have been scarce.
Frank Stitt’s legendary Highlands Bar and Grill has more award nominations over the years than wall
space available in this intimate eatery that won Outstanding Restaurant in America in 2018. Stitt himself
took home Best Chef in the Southeast in 2001, and has been nominated for virtually every major award
since then. The menu is diverse and always changing, meaning the best from each harvest will bring
something delightful and unique. An added bonus to a Highlands visit is punctuating your meal with the
famed coconut cake (a dessert so good it helped the restaurant’s pastry chef take home the Beard
award for Outstanding Pastry Chef).
Another Best Chef in the South winner, Chris Hastings, uses his restaurant, Hot and Hot Fish Club, to
showcase a blend of Southern, French, and California-styles of cooking paired with creative farm-to-
table ingredients. While people swear by the steak, duck, and seafood dishes, perhaps the most adored
menu item is the iconic Hot and Hot heirloom tomato salad.
A famed establishment known for Greek cuisine and celebrity sightings, the nearly 120-year-old Bright
Star is a Birmingham institution. Whether it’s the Greek-style snapper throats, prime rib of beef, or
breaded veal steak, everything on the menu is beloved by locals who celebrate special occasions in their
favorite booths. 2010 saw the Bright Star win the American Classics Award, a Beard distinction
recognizing the nation’s beloved regional restaurants.
Relative newcomer Rodney Scott, a Best Chef in the Southeast winner, recently brought his brand of
barbecue to Birmingham. The noted pitmaster hosts scores of fans each day who devour items such as
the BBQ pork sandwich, spareribs, and beef brisket. Likewise, another new face among Birmingham
restaurant staples is Pizza Grace, a new pizza concept and nominee for Best New Restaurant in 2023.
These small-batch pizzas bring inventive ingredients and hungry crowds; they sell out regularly, so get
there early to sample their incredible sourdough crusts.
In addition to having heightened everyday dining, these highly acclaimed eateries make for great team-
oriented meals, networking opportunities, and client-hosting occasions where a meal may mean more
than simply enjoying an entrée.
Birmingham was built on the side of a mountain, meaning the outdoors are synonymous with its brand
and identity. Therefore, you’ll find plenty of opportunities to stretch your work legs outside or simply
break up the day, and many of these options for adventure occur just a few minutes away from your
dedicated office space.
Excursions are everywhere; abundant hiking and biking trails can be found within a 20 to 30-mile radius
of downtown, offering a variety of experiences for outdoor enthusiasts. The area boasts a diverse range
of trails, from easy-going paths to challenging mountain tracks, catering to every level of hiker and biker.
Some of the notable trails include the Shades Creek Greenway, Red Rock Ridge & Valley System, Chief
Ladiga Trail, Railroad Park Downtown, Black Creek Park, and Oak Mountain State Park. Whether you
prefer a leisurely ride or a bold mountain biking experience, the Birmingham area has something to offer
for everyone. With such a wide selection of trails available, outdoor enthusiasts are sure to find the
perfect setting to explore and enjoy the natural beauty surrounding downtown Birmingham.
Local Sports and Recreational Entertainment
Beyond hiking and biking, Birmingham offers a wealth of recreational opportunities for families and
sports enthusiasts. The city manages 21 recreation centers, providing programs and activities for all
ability levels in the arts, co-ed recreation, and sports. For fans of professional programs, catch a minor
league baseball game at Region’s Field or legendary Rickwood Field, attend a soccer match supporting
the Birmingham Legion, and or cheer for the hometown hockey team, the Birmingham Bulls, as they
compete on the ice. The Birmingham Stallions deliver pulse-pounding athletic prowess on the gridiron
and the Squadron boast big energy on the basketball court, meaning every major sport is represented in
the Magic City.
Additionally, the area boasts numerous unique outdoor attractions, including waterways, green spaces,
and golf courses, making Birmingham an ideal destination for nature enthusiasts. Family-friendly
entertainment means visitors can explore the sprawling Birmingham Zoo and Botanical Gardens, enjoy
the thrill of the Autobahn Indoor Speedway, or engage in axe games at Civil Axe Throwing. These
activities cater to a wide range of interests and ensure a great time whether it’s just you and a friend or you bring the whole startup squad. Whether you’re seeking an active outdoor adventure or a fun-filled
day with family, Birmingham has something special to offer.
The Numbers Say You Should be Birmingham Bound
Connect with Birmingham Bound to learn more about why the Magic City means a better opportunity to
grow your tech startup. If you happen to be attending SXSW on March 8th , check out the Birmingham Bound house as we
bring Birmingham to Austin to make things a bit more magical.