REV TEAM HIGHLIGHT:
Meet Michael Symes, the new City Center District Manager for the Business Improvement District (BID). As a long-time resident of Birmingham, Michael brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to the role. His passion for Birmingham and his “accidental roots” have made him the perfect candidate for this position.
Michael grew up as a military kid; he was born in Germany during his father’s deployment but lived in Spanish Fort most of his childhood. Due to his love for sports, Michael chose The University of Alabama to study Sports Marketing. After graduating with honors, Michael began applying for jobs around the country.
Luckily, Birmingham was the first city that offered enough money to pay for rent… His career began working at a marketing company for sports sponsorships like Nascar, IndyCar Racing, and even bass fishing to promote specific brands. Through this line of work, he was able to travel all around the country, often for weeks in a row! For 22 weeks out of the year away from home, he felt like he was missing the rebirth of Birmingham. He heard about all the new developments happening downtown through his friends.
In 2010, the city was transforming “from Railroad Park to the new brewery scene; I wanted to be a part of the growth and a city redefining itself,” said Michael Symes.
With an end to sports contracts and a sense of missing out, the stars aligned for Michael. He secured a Marketing and Sales Manager position with ZYP Bikeshare in 2015. ZYP Bikeshare was a program through REV Birmingham to connect communities with the first-ever electronic bike fleet in the US! Michael had a lot of work to do for something never seen before in the country. He would set up tents around the city and at festivals to advertise and teach others how these bikes add connectivity to downtown.
He also helped REV in projects like the Woodlawn Street Market and Urban Food Project. “I wanted to make an impact in a city that was finding its voice,” said Michael.
After the ZYP Bikeshare ended, Michael left REV to work in sales. His job required him to drive all around the southeast, and he slowly began to feel disconnected from downtown. After spending four years on the road, Michael’s heart was set on returning home to Birmingham. His wish was granted when the City Center District Manager (CCDM) position became available, and he eagerly seized the opportunity to work for the city he loved.
Now, Michael Symes has saddled up and taken the reins on his new career path. “I am excited to run the gamut of job responsibilities in this role. From doing the dirty work behind the scenes & solving issues for residents and property owners; to the fun, public projects that will add vibrancy and buzz downtown. And everything in between. For those of you living or working in the BID, don’t hesitate to reach out or flag me down!”
Michael knows what’s happening in the Ham and is here to help you. You can catch him walking up 20th Street and all around the BID. You also might spot him around town rooting for the local sports teams or even at a brewery playing trivia!
Email – Michael@revbirmingham.org
Phone – 251.421.2523
Magic City Match is a program that transforms lives and opens doors for Black entrepreneurs and business owners. Led by REV Birmingham and powered by Prosper, this initiative aims to create opportunities for Black-owned businesses by matching them with brick-and-mortar spaces where they can thrive. After a successful pilot program in 2022, Magic City Match is back in action and ready to empower a new wave of entrepreneurs.
One of the most legendary and storied neighborhoods of Birmingham is Woodlawn. It is a community, anchored by one of the great public high schools of Birmingham, that has produced many citizens who contributed to the life of our city and has had an impact beyond the neighborhood itself. In a short post like this true justice cannot be done to the rich heritage and legacy of Woodlawn. However, we hope that this narrative brings together many of the diverse threads that make up the fabric of the community’s historic arc in a concise piece.
Woof, woof! I’ve been having an absolute blast visiting my sister in Downtown Birmingham. I can hardly wait to share all the details with you once you return from your vacation. In the meantime, I wanted to put paw to paper and tell you all about it, with the hope of convincing you that moving Downtown could be the most wonderful decision ever.