Coffee with Amanda LeBlanc and Carter Hughes

For this issue’s Coffee With feature, we brought together The Amandas’ Amanda LeBlanc and H2 Real Estate’s Carter Hughes to talk about their businesses.

What are your greatest business opportunities that you have at the moment?

Hughes: Our goal is to continue to provide housing options in both the for- sale residential and for-rent residential space to residents within the city limits of Birmingham. We are currently doing a lot of work in downtown, Southside, Crestwood, Crestline Park, Highland Park, and other areas of the city. There have been limited housing options for Birmingham residents for years and we are trying to do our part to change that.  2015 was the first time in over 50 years that our city limit population grew and we are looking to keep that trend going.

LeBlanc: We are blessed at The Amandas to have enjoyed great success over the past 13 years. I attribute that success to constant prayer over calculated risk and the mindset that whatever my clients want I will find a way to bring it to them. That being said, we have recently answered the call to dive into corporate organizing. A great deal of my residential clients have their own businesses outside of their homes, and they are now taking the next step of requesting consults to organize their businesses.

With this new demand I have started working on space planning for an office; coaching employees on work/life balance and how to organize their work space; and coaching business owners, CEOs, and their employees on the benefits of time management.

What is your take on the growth of the Birmingham business community?

Hughes: We are seeing a very creative and entrepreneurial culture to the business community, and I believe that is a key element in the continued growth of our city.  This creative culture helps to attract young professionals and young business talent, which helps to lure larger, corporate opportunities, but at the heart of it all is the creative culture.  If you compare Birmingham to cities like Nashville and Austin, they also started their growth with their creative business culture, and look how it has benefited them. A further opportunity I see in this area is what is currently happening at the University of Alabama.  In 2015, only 35 percent of the freshman class was from the state of Alabama. This is a huge opportunity for Birmingham. All of these young professionals trying out our state.  We just have to do our job to keep them here!

LeBlanc: Birmingham’s location offers a unique gift to business owners. After Hurricane Katrina displaced our family, my husband and I made a very strategic business move in selecting Birmingham not only for our home but  also for the business we established in New Orleans.

I wanted to be able to maintain the business and clients I had established in New Orleans but also be able to reach other clients that had been displaced to Mississippi, Georgia, Tennessee, and other areas. When I looked at the map and saw the cities across the Southeast that I could reach with less than a six-hour drive, I realized Birmingham not only gave me a great opportunity for my business to grow locally but also to expand beyond what I had imagined. We have been able to capitalize on that opportunity and see that as a great advantage for Birmingham in attracting other businesses as well.

Hughes: I believe we are in the infant stages of urban renewal of our city.  Our company plans to continue to develop and acquire both for rent and for sale residential housing within the scope of this urban renewal and continue to provide additional housing options for these young professionals that I see our city continuing to attract.  It is fun to be a part of the revival of what was once a thriving urban community and to help mold that into what the future of our great city becomes.