BIRMINGHAM, Ala. — After giving birth to her second daughter, Jazzmine Huggins knew she wanted serious changes in her life.

She was 24 years old, living in public housing and not always making what she felt were the best choices for herself or her children. The low point may have come when she found herself in a confrontation with a man, staring down the barrel of a gun.

Mrs. Huggins wanted to get on a pathway to a better life for herself and her children. She had past work experience and soft skills that would serve her well in the…

Birmingham, Ala. — Andre Moore has spent decades in Birmingham preparing students for lifelong careers in cutting hair, fixing nails and helping other people look their best.

Most recently, he has owned and operated Southeastern School of Cosmetology & Barbering, an institution in western Birmingham where he worked 20 years before venturing out to run his own school.

He had operated Andre’s Hair Styling and Barber Training Center for eight years when his retiring former director, Jim Cunningham, offered him a chance to purchase the Southeastern name. Moore happily said yes.

The transition included a short gap in operation when…

Birmingham, Ala. — As a student at Parker High School, Justin Williams had an idea of what he wanted to be, and he believes he would have found a way to get there. But Birmingham Promise removed any doubts, clearing the path for Williams to achieve his goals.

Under a Birmingham Promise scholarship, Williams is now a freshman at the University of Alabama. The scholarship means he can focus on his computer engineering studies rather than worry about scraping together tuition or running up massive debt. …

Birmingham, Ala. — Jarvis Prewitt’s academic ability is evident: He was the salutatorian of the Huffman High School Class of 2019, excelling in tough Advanced Placement courses and graduating with a 4.0 GPA. His academic record earned him a full scholarship to Alabama A&M, where he is now sophomore studying to become a mechanical engineer.

“I love me some math and science,” Prewitt says.

But when he talks about the strength of his education, Prewitt recognizes some of his most important lessons did not take place in the classroom.

Between graduating from high school and starting classes at A&M, Prewitt…

Birmingham, Ala. — L’Tryce Slade found herself at a pivotal juncture in life in 2006.

After completing law school at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Slade came to Birmingham to work for a law firm on a case. When that case ended, she did what people do: She set out to find another job. But again, and again, the suggestion came back that she should create her own firm based on her unique expertise and experience, which includes communications, regional planning and environmental law.

Slade Land Use, Environmental, and Transportation LLC was born. It has evolved into…

Birmingham, Ala. — Faith, family and community are the hallmarks of a successful business, according to Shelby Pearson, who has owned and operated Pearson Brothers Tire Center in the North Birmingham Community for over a decade.

It’s a mark of pride for almost any business to stay open and serve its community for so many years. Pearson credits his faith and family for the longevity and success of Pearson Brothers Tire Center. Since its beginning, Pearson Brothers has worked tirelessly to place the customer at the center of its business model.

“Whenever customers come into our business, we not only…

Birmingham, Ala. — Selena Rodgers Dickerson’s first steps as an entrepreneur were rooted in crisis.

She created SARCOR, her engineering services firm, during the country’s worst economic disaster since the Great Depression. Laid off from her engineering job, Rodgers Dickerson became her own boss full-time in 2010.

While SARCOR had ups and downs through the years, Rodgers Dickerson continued to build her business skills and develop a strategic vision for her company’s success.

As the firm entered 2020 and approached its 10th anniversary, SARCOR faced a threat that had never once crossed Rodgers Dickerson’s mind. …

Birmingham, Ala. — For mother-daughter team Janice McShan and Ava Young, running Metropolitan Day School is a natural fit for their experience, knowledge and passion.

Before opening the school in west Birmingham, McShan had taught kindergarten for 20 years and served as pre-K director for Birmingham City Schools. Young had taught kindergarten 14 years. Both have master’s degrees in early childhood development.

“We’re both educators at heart,” Young said.

With their expertise, Young and her mother created structured days full of activities that are age-appropriate, educational and fun. …

Birmingham, Ala. — Robert Hill was small in high school, so small he couldn’t find clothes to fit him. It was the inspiration for a career that eventually led him to 3rd Avenue North in Birmingham, where he has operated Robert Hill Custom Tailors for 37 years.

Hill saw fashions come and go over that time. He experienced good economic times and bad. But he never faced anything that came close to COVID-19.

“We’ve had struggles before, but nothing like this,” Hill said. “This pandemic took us down a bad road. It’s been a tremendous impact.”

His shop shut down…

Robert and Brandi Mitchell’s home-improvement business has started to rebound after being brought to a sudden standstill because of COVID-19.

Birmingham, Ala. — Four years ago, Brandi Mitchell left behind a secretarial job to own and operate a home-improvement business with her husband, Robert. Their Birmingham company flourished enough to provide steady work for the Mitchells, at least two other people and sometimes more.

But when COVID-19 hit, the Mitchells went abruptly from having enough work to share, to having no work at all.

“We had jobs lined up, but because of COVID, it came to a screeching halt,” Mrs. Mitchell said. “A lot of our clients are elderly, and of course, they were scared, as were we. …

BHAM Innovation and Economic Opportunity

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store