Northern Alabama, a Developing Tech Region

(And, of course, favorite Alabama bollard styles)

An image of the skyline of Huntsville, AL at night with lights shining from buildings and parks
Huntsville, Alabama has recently become one of the top ten tech cities in the United States.

In trawling our data for clues as to the changing bollard market, we can find interesting information that hints at construction trends. Northern Alabama recently caught our eye. The region seemed to be a bigger buyer than we expected for regional size.

A little google-investigation taught us that, like Florida, this area is a growing tech spot.

As internet infrastructure allows for teams to work all over the country, places with affordable real estate are becoming increasingly attractive to young tech professionals.

Alabama generally, and northern Alabama in particular, offers bang for the cost-of-living buck, as well as lots of opportunity, for the tech worker.

Huntsville, Alabama: a top ten tech city

Alabama has traditionally been a rural, agricultural economy. However, military manufacturing moved into Huntsville and began to shift the sorts of skills and opportunities in the area.

Now, Huntsville is showing up in numerous lists as a top ten tech city for new grads and interested entrepreneurs. 23% of the working population is involved in tech in the city! Annually, the city hosts the We Rock It conference, designed to bring in multiple tech disciplines, break them out of their silos, and find and build interconnections. In this way the city is not just promoting tech, but also collaborative innovation.

The job market is hot for the IT professional. More than 15K tech jobs were posted in Huntsville between the summer of 2019 to the summer of 2020.

Although Alabama’s public education suffers compared to the rest of the country, its universities and colleges come in the middle or above, with Auburn’s Engineering School ranked 66th in country. The state has interesting research and development happening in aerospace and aeronautics, as well as genomics (and the technology and algorithm that goes along with biological research.)

A screen capture of the Zillow screen showing many low-priced homes including a 3 bedroom for $150K
Alabama’s home prices and property taxes are both very low.

Home prices and a residential construction boom

Average salaries in Alabama are near the bottom of the pack, with individual income averaging $62K/year (according to and household income just $69K/year (according to the Census Bureau.)

However, the cost of living and housing are also low, and this helps the family’s dollar stretch in Alabama. Statewide, the median cost of a home is $169,933. Since historically in the US the median price of a home is 5x median household income, Alabama’s 2.5x makes housing cheap. Property taxes in the state are also low.

When looking at Huntsville’s tech salaries with median of 97K, the lower housing prices make housing a steal for the IT worker. The median home price in the city is $234,832. A single person’s 2.5x means real estate for the tech worker is inexpensive only with one income.

However, people flocking to Alabama have meant that the state has seen higher home value appreciation over the past three years than average in the United States. Homebuilders are noticing: residential construction permits are also on the upswing, with Alabama in the top 10 states nationally for growth in the sector.

Lightning bugs glow like yellow twinkle lights above a grassy culvert beside a road
Alabama is one of the most ecologically diverse states. Photo Source.

Ecology and climate

Stories, songs, and memories of Alabama are often tied to the features of the land and ecology. Fireflies, rattlers, blue skies, bass, and catfish.

Perhaps this is due to Alabama being one of the most ecologically diverse states in the country! With regular expectation of natural wildfire, there isn’t the same tendency to canopied forests with shadowed understory. Instead, there is a regular refresh of grassland that has allowed an abundance of small plants to evolve into specific niches. Many unique fire-adapted species make their home in Alabama.

Warm weather lovers will appreciate that t-shirt and shorts weather stretches from April to October. It is muggy, especially in the southern parts of the States, but climbing the hills and mountains provides different climatic zones to explore.

The Appalachian Mountains offer lots of opportunities for hiking, kayaking, rockclimbing, and other sightseeing, stretching into the middle of the state, with Lookout Mountain and Red Mountain being popular for locals and tourists alike.

Several national forests and beaches along the Gulf mean that Alabama’s diverse beauty is a big draw to the state.

Smoked pulled pork with mashed potatoes and veggies
Alabama’s smoked BBQ often comes with a regional favorite white BBQ sauce.

Cultural draws

People are drawn to Alabama for all sorts of things—music and football being the biggest two—but there is universal agreement about the sumptuousness of Alabama’s food.

Southern BBQ is of course the main draw. Alabama white sauce is one of the state’s additions to the cuisine: this mayo-based drizzle has horseradish, cayenne, and mustard so packs a flavor punch. It’s paired with smoked meats. Seafood is also an Alabaman expertise, with a focus on oysters and other shellfish. Alabama is also known for their gator, for the more adventurous foodie.

College football is a huge draw in Alabama, with “Alabama vs. Auburn” being a friendly (and sometimes not so friendly) in-state rivalry. Football fans of all sorts participate in an active tailgating culture.

Alabama is also the home of a very active music scene. Such long-standing legends such as Hank Williams Sr., Nat King Cole, Emmylou Harris, and Lionel Richie were born in Alabama, and the live music scene continues in country, jazz, pop, and EDM. There are lots of live music venues and festivals in Alabama.

Top Alabama bollard styles

We are always curious as to what bollard styles are capturing the market in different parts of the country. Alabama’s two top sellers are contemporary and clean.

A slim stainless-steel bollard with three stainless rings along the top edge

R-8901 Stainless Bollard Specs:

  • Weight: 36 lbs
  • Height: 36 in
  • Body Diameter: 4-1/3 in
  • Base Diameter: 4-1/3 in
  • Material: 316 Stainless
  • Finish: #6 Satin

The R-8901 can come with removable or fixed mountings and provides a complement to many contemporary styles of architecture. Bolt down, new concrete, removable receivers, bolt down receivers, fold down mechanisms: the range of functions available means this bollard suits many purposes.

The 316-grade stainless steel is optimized for rust-resistance even in weather conditions much harsher than those in most of Alabama. It’s known also as “marine grade” stainless, making it an available choice even in applications along the Gulf Coast. Businesses and campuses using the 8901 may also be interested in the R-8903, which offers the same profile, but with additional bike arms for secure bike storage.

A black, slender bollard with a domed top

R-7902 Bollard Specs:

  • Weight: 39 lbs
  • Height: 36 in
  • Body Diameter: 4-1/3 in
  • Base Diameter: 4-1/3 in
  • Material: Steel
  • Finish: Black powder-coat (standard) or non-standard colors in powder-coat or IronArmor

The R-7902 is the same height and diameter as its more architectural stainless cousin. It has the same range of mounting options and flexibility and is often shipped with flanged bases for easy installation onto existing concrete. This bollard often is powder-coated in stock or custom colors to match businesses or campus colors. (The bollards could be ordered red. For large enough orders, finishes can be done in a variety of ways…including painted to say Roll Tide!)

Opportunities in Alabama

With changes in buying patterns out of Alabama we’re curious about where the State might go. In many ways, Alabama is used to being near the bottom of the national pack in quality of life surveys, with real challenges in health care, education, and financial opportunity. However, as tech jobs come in, new opportunities and workers may slowly bring up some of the other lagging areas of the economy and create some changes to overall quality of life. It’s a state to watch over the next decade—and we’ll be here, of course, keeping an eye on Alabama’s bollard situation…