Since 2010 the city of Birmingham has had a 58 percent increase in young professional talent, and Waymond Jackson is aware that businesses move where the talent is.
“They know millennial talent wants to be in downtown, so they move downtown as well,” said Jackson, vice president, Workforce Development Division, the Birmingham Business Alliance. “No time like any other has talent been the determining factor for a company to decide where they are going to move or expand. So our job is to make sure that we can connect talent with companies locally.”
Jackson is currently working on a program that increases the chances of graduates moving to the Magic City.
“That’s where we’re building college relationships on campuses,” Jackson said. “We’re recruiting students to come look at what Birmingham and the companies have to offer, so that they are more in touch with what’s going on here.”
Education and workforce are one in the same, Jackson said. “In order for us to be successful in what we’re doing in workforce development we have to have a relationship with K-12, the city schools, the county schools, the Birmingham Education Foundation; we’re helping guide the students in the direction of the type of learning that should take place in schools. We want to make sure, since we know where the jobs are coming from, we can help their futures.”
Before joining the BBA, Jackson, 36, worked with former Birmingham City Councilman Roderick Royal as committee assistant and learned some valuable lessons.
“One of the things I learned in public service — where you’re constantly receiving new information and projects coming to the city and things changing in the city — was how much I enjoyed doing this. [Royal] had the education committee, and we were trying to establish programs in the schools, like Be Healthy. It gave me the opportunity to work on both sides of the issues.”
The program, which was for children who would often come to school hungry, was a partnership with Wal-Mart and Nabisco where they would provide breakfast bars in the classrooms for students.
“Teachers now had the opportunity to provide the kids with something more,” Jackson recalled. “Another thing I learned was that teachers would say ‘I know some of the students won’t have anything to eat until they get back to school on Monday,’ and teachers would give [breakfast bars] away to kids for the weekends.”
Jackson, who grew up in West End, is a fan of the Alabama Symphony and the Alabama Ballet and a former senior sales consultant at Carmax. At the age of 13, his first job was as a shop hand at Hatcher Automotive Service Center where he washed cars, cleaned the shop floor, answered phones and learned to perform basic automotive mechanical maintenance.
He attended Ramsay High School and the University of Alabama at Birmingham. He and his wife Kimberly have a 3-year-old named Leo Waymond Jackson.
Jackson has not forgotten his roots.
“My mom still lives in West End, you do get to see now that working in the city in a public service role, you’re trying to impact the community,” Jackson said. “You’re getting calls from people who are trying to make their community better, and you have the opportunity to help them.”