City Life, Economic Development, Featured

The city of Bessemer’s Economic and Community Development Department is seeking Citizens comments as it finalizes its Five-Year Consolidated Plan and its FY2020 Community Development Block Grant Action Plan.

Citizens participation meetings will be held at Bessemer City Hall, 1700 Third Avenue North, on Tuesday, February 18 from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m. and on Wednesday, February 19 from 10 a.m. to 11 a.m. keep reading


Featured, Public Safety, Uncategorized, Upcoming Event

Classes will be held on Tuesday and Thursday evenings from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the Bessemer Civic Center between March 2 and March 12. Classes will include information on: patrol procedures, criminal law, search and seizure, tactical operations, juvenile law, firearm safety and more.


The cost to attend is free. Interested Bessemer residents are asked to contact Police Sergeant Alexia Bruister at 205-417-3900 to sign up or for additional information.  The academy is open only to Bessemer residents.


Economic Development

Major crime rate drops for seventh straight year

The crime rate in the city of Bessemer continued to tumble in 2019 sparked by declines in almost all major categories.

The overall crime rate in Bessemer was down four percent last year compared to 2018, according to Bessemer Police statistics. The decline in the crime rate continues a string of declines in the crime rate dating back to 2012.

Police reported double-digit reductions in almost all major categories for the year ended December 31, 2019, including a 33 percent reduction in burglaries, a 17 percent drop in robberies, an 11 percent drop in vehicle thefts and a 21 percent drop in unauthorized breaking and entering of vehicles.

Homicides increased by 5 from 8 in 2018 to 13 in 2019. The homicides were the most in the city since 2009.

The department highlighted several areas of progress in 2019, including:

  • Addition of a Domestic Violence Detective for domestic violence cases.
  • The Special Operations Unit removed drugs and narcotics valued at $332,000 from the city streets and apprehended 61 illegal firearms.
  • Ten new officers were added to the patrol division in 2019.
  • Several new Neighborhood Watch groups were started in 2019.

Police Chief Mike Roper said the department plans to launch several new crime prevention initiatives in 2020. Among the initiatives police plan to implement are self-defense and conflict resolution classes and a Citizens Academy.

“By allowing citizens a firsthand look at the police department and how operations are handled, it is our hope that citizens that have a better understanding of the role of the role of police in the community,” Roper said. “Additionally, citizens bring a wealth of knowledge about their community and particularly the problems in their neighborhoods. This enables the police to learn and better understand the concerns of the citizens.

A self-defense class held in January by the department attracted 75 participants. Other classes will be conducted throughout the year, Roper said.

Additional programs will focus on deterring youth from crime and Active Shooter Training for local churches.



Economic Development


Bessemer Mayor Kenneth Gulley highlighted a strong economic climate and new crime prevention strategies in the Annual State of the City Address delivered on Monday, January 27, 2020 at the Bessemer Civic Center.  

Gulley, who is in his third term as Mayor, said Bessemer’s economy is the strongest in recent memory due to recruitment efforts which have landed the city such companies as Amazon and Carvana, resulting in the creation of thousands of new jobs.

“The economic climate in Bessemer is as strong as ever before and is the envy of many communities in this county and state,” Gulley said. “The eyes of the world are watching Bessemer because we have recruited major industries to our city and prepared ourselves for an even greater tomorrow.”

Amazon plans to open Alabama’s first Robotics Fulfillment Center in March and employ between 1,500 and 3000. The $325 million facility on Powder Plant Road is spurring additional growth in the area.

Carvana announced last year it plans to build a $40 million Fulfillment Center on Morgan Road and employ upwards of 300 new employees.

Gulley said the city has been successful in its recruiting efforts by being business-friendly and through cooperation and partnerships with economic development agencies at the state and local level.

Gulley said the goal now is building on partnerships with organizations such as Lawson State Community College to strengthen the city’s workforce to take advantage of the new job opportunities. Bessemer’s unemployment rate stands at 3.6 percent.

Guilley also highlighted the impact of the Bessemer Airport on the city’s economic climate. A new 10-unit hangar at the airport is expected to be completed later this year, creating opportunities for additional private aircraft to lease space at the facility.

Gulley said he has requested the Bessemer City Council work with him on creating incentives for new businesses wishing to move into the city so that Bessemer can stay competitive regionally.

In addition, Gulley said he wants to see the city to develop a masterplan to create a vision for Bessemer’s future. Downtown Bessemer will remain a focus of planning and revitalization efforts, he said.

“We must position Downtown Bessemer as a place to live, work, shop, eat and play,” Gulley said. “Many new businesses have already opened in recent years in Downtown. We have a National Historic District and an Opportunity Zone designation we can capitalize upon to bring new investment into the downtown.”

In terms of infrastructure, Gulley said work will begin this year on Phase II and Phase III of the Bessemer Rail-Trail. The upcoming phases will include construction of pedestrian bridges over Berkley and Arlington Avenue. A project to connect the Bessemer Recreation Center to the Rail-Trail via a pedestrian bridge over 14th Street South, or Highway 150, is currently in the design phase.

Gulley said the city’s crime rate continues to drop, as highlighted by a four percent drop in violent crimes between 2018 and 2019. However, the number of homicides in the city rose in 2019. Gulley said the police department and the public will need to work together to combat violence.

The Mayor said he was excited about new initiatives the Bessemer Police Department will launch in 2020, including Self-Defense classes, a Citizen’s Academy and an Active Shooter Training program for churches. A new partnership with the UAB Minority Health and Research Center and the National Organization of Black Law Enforcement on has the potential to help the city reduce the crime rate further, he said.

In closing, Gulley said Bessemer’s future is bright as the new decade starts.

“We have a lot to be proud of here in Bessemer,” he said. “We have weathered storms that would have destroyed other communities and emerged even stronger each  time. It is why we look to the future of this city with such hope and optimism.

“The promise of Bessemer shines brighter than ever before. Let us all continue, regardless of our race, age, or financial background, to work together to take Bessemer to heights she has never reached.”




CARVANA to locate $40 million fulfillment center in Bessemer, create 450 jobs

Carvana has announced plans to build a new $40 million distribution and fulfillment center off Morgan Road in Bessemer, creating some 450 new jobs in the Marvel City.

“First, I want to welcome Carvana to Bessemer,” said Mayor Kenneth Gulley. “We’ve enjoyed tremendous success when it comes to recruiting companies to our city, whether it be Dollar General in 2011 or most recently Amazon.

“We’re tremendously excited about Carvana joining this growing list of companies, especially because Carvana will be creating jobs that will offer great wages and benefits that will afford residents of Bessemer an opportunity to work hard and provide a great life for their families.”

The Bessemer City Council voted unanimously Tuesday evening, October 5, on an incentive package that will help lure the e-commerce company to the city. Carvana is known as the fastest-growing auto retailer in the U.S.

Carvana’s Bessemer hub will handle fulfillment activities for Alabama and surrounding states, and it will coordinate with similar facilities as the company moves inventory across the nation. The center will also house inspection, maintenance and photography functions critical to delivering the exceptional customer experience Carvana has become known for.

Jobs at Carvana are expected to have an average annual salary of more than $35,000.

Officials from around the state of Alabama issued statements related to the company’s decision to locate in Bessemer.

“We have been working hard to position Alabama as prime destination for fast-growing e-commerce companies needing a first-class infrastructure network for their distribution operations” Governor Kay Ivey said in a press release.  “We are thrilled that Carvana has selected Bessemer for its newest state-of-the-art distribution hub and look forward to building a partnership with this innovative company.”

Officials in Jefferson County also welcomed the news.

“Adding 400 jobs in the Bessemer area in addition to Amazon is really changing the business landscape not just for Jefferson County but for the entire region,” said Jefferson County Commission President Jimmy Stephens. “Carvana is a forward-looking company that is looking at the business of selling cars in a different way.”

Jeff Traywick, vice-president of economic development for the Birmingham Business Alliance, said the metro area’s western region continues to see increased attention from companies in the e-commerce and logistics sectors.

“This project is further evidence that the area’s strong infrastructure, central location in the southeastern United States and our quality workforce makes our region an excellent choice for companies looking to grow in the South,” Traywick said. “We are excited about Carvana’s selection of Bessemer for this new facility and look forward to their continued success.”