Elevate Hoover: Strategic plan expected to take Alabama city to next level

The city of Hoover recently unveiled a three-year strategic plan rooted in its partnerships with stakeholders. The plan, called Elevate Hoover, looks to grow the city in a three-pronged approach: fostering economic growth, cultivating talent and being the voice of business. Hoover Mayor Frank Brocato sat down with Hoover Chamber of […]

The city of Hoover recently unveiled a three-year strategic plan rooted in its partnerships with stakeholders. The plan, called Elevate Hoover, looks to grow the city in a three-pronged approach: fostering economic growth, cultivating talent and being the voice of business.

Hoover Mayor Frank Brocato sat down with Hoover Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Toni Herrera-Bast and Kimberly Jackson, community relations manager for Alabama Power’s Birmingham Division, to discuss the goals and values of Elevate Hoover.

New strategic plan aims to Elevate Hoover from Alabama NewsCenter on Vimeo.

“The city’s a little over 50 years old, so there’s some great opportunities for redevelopment,” Brocato said. “Fifty years is a long life span for a neighborhood or a shopping center, really for anything, so we’re focusing on those things. We want to focus on those type opportunities with our chamber and with partners like Alabama Power.”

The mayor said an element of the strategic plan is to increase walkability in the city’s older, established neighborhoods and connect them to new development.

“We also want to incorporate into how our city lays out over the next 25 or 30 years, and that is making a more walkable community,” he said. “We’ve seen new developments that develop with sidewalks and opportunities to walk to a restaurant or a grocery store or doctors offices; they are flourishing.”

Under the three-year strategic plan, Elevate Hoover will:

  • Provide economic vitality by providing high-quality jobs; creating a thriving ecosystem for small businesses; and encouraging people to live, work and play in Hoover.
  • Be the voice of business by informing the business community; being a trusted advocate for business; and acting as a community partner for diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI).
  • Cultivate talent by attracting people to Hoover and being employers of choice.

“Our intention with this plan was to make sure we are a true partner to the city,” Herrera-Bast said. “When it comes to economic development, when it comes to community development, we truly want to be the partner that they’re looking to have, whether it’s in workforce development, bringing a sense of place … Revitalizing our older Hoover communities and working across multiple chambers to create regional collaboration is where we feel like Elevate Hoover can step up, and the chamber can step up to be a true partner.”

The strategic plan is a deliberate effort to elevate one of the state’s more successful cities to an even higher level.

“I’ve seen a really small town explode and grow to almost 100,000 people and, in Alabama, that may not be duplicated again, I don’t think in my lifetime,” Brocato said. “The leadership we had when I was coming up focused on quality of life. How important it was that our neighborhoods were clean and safe, that we provided great recreational opportunities for our kids, our different ballparks, our various parks that you can go and hike, using the Cahaba River for a canoe trip. That’s really been our philosophy, even through my administration. Then, when you bring in this fantastic school system, it gives you that great opportunity to move to the next level, so you can have an opportunity to enjoy the American dream.”

Herrera-Bast agreed.

“Just to see the growth that Hoover has had, the quality of schools that it offers, the quality of life is second to none,” she said. “That’s what makes me proud to be a Hoover resident.”

Jackson said Alabama Power takes prides in supporting economic growth, including at the municipal level.

“This has been a great opportunity for us to level that up in the city of Hoover, considering Hoover’s success to this point, being named the best city to live in Alabama back in December by 24/7 Wall Street,” she said. “So, we want to help make it a great community to live, work and play with this new strategic plan.”

Diversity, equity and inclusion

A key component of the strategic plan is a focus on DEI. Brocato said it has been his administration’s mindset from Day 1 to create diversity in the workforce, particularly at City Hall.

“Hoover’s a diverse city. That’s what our citizens want to see,” he said. “I can’t tell you in the last year how many minority business owners have opened a business in the city of Hoover. When you talk about our school system, it’s made up of kids from all diverse backgrounds. I want them to stay in Hoover. That’s the message that we send to them each and every day.”

Herrera-Bast said diversity has been an intentional focus of the chamber, evidenced by putting a Latino woman in a leadership position.

“I believe our board of directors asked, ‘Where is our future; where are we going?’ So we’re being really intentional that everything we do at the chamber is reflective of the community,” Herrera-Bast said. “So, the DEI component is really investing in our next generation, in different schools of thought, different ideas, being innovative, because what has been working for the last 50 years may not take us into the next 50. The chamber certainly sees the importance of bringing different people to the table, and it’ll help the bottom line.”

Jackson said the focus on diversity is a bottom line proposition.

“There are statistics that state that organizations that have significant levels of diversity – cultural backgrounds, education, gender, schools of thought – those are the most successful organizations, the most profitable organizations,” she said, adding that, with more than 50 languages spoken by students in the Hoover school system, diversity is already a part of the city’s makeup. “The way we can continue moving the city forward is for all of those diverse members of the community to feel included, feel like they add value, feel like they have an investment in the growth and development of the community.”

Power of partnerships

Herrera-Bast said Elevate Hoover demonstrates the importance of having relationships with partners who are willing to invest in their community.

“We have city leaders who are listening and responding to the needs of our community, and the chamber has the honor and privilege to serve both sides and connect us all,” she said. “The partnership is invaluable, and it will help us to move the conversations and the plan along.”

For Alabama Power, Jackson said it’s in the company’s DNA to serve the communities where it does business.

“When our founder, William Patrick Lay, handed over the company to his successor, he stated that the company had been developed for the service of Alabama, and that’s what we truly believe,” she said. “That’s in the fabric of our everyday work. So, it’s important for us to be at the table in conversations like these to show support to the chamber and the cities that we serve to make sure you know that we are a willing partner and that we will leverage our resources to continue to help you thrive, because as you thrive, we thrive.”

Brocato said before he became mayor, he didn’t realize the importance and strength of Alabama Power and what the company does to promote economic opportunities in the entire state of Alabama.

“We can’t do any of this by ourselves,” he said, acknowledging the chamber, City Hall, Alabama Power, corporate leaders, the school system, small businesses and others. “Elevate Hoover is going to bring all those factors in, all those interested parties, and we’re going to nurture that and work hard to take the city to that next level. That next level is to make sure that we continue to provide a great quality of life for everybody who comes here to work, live or play.”

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