Sloss Fest, Birmingham’s two-day music & arts festival now in its second year, is coming up this weekend and expected to bring in over 25,000 people to the location that lends its name to the festival. Sloss Furnaces will be an event venue for those cacophonous two days, but it actually is a national historic landmark and museum to the company that existed for nearly 90 years, producing iron nearly since the beginning of Birmingham itself in 1871.
For a century, Birmingham thrived from its steel and iron production, earning the nickname ‘The Magic City.’ While manufacturing still exists in the city once called “Pittsburgh of the South,” they are also well aware of what it means to innovate and be another sort of hub for the Southeast.
Maybe it’s only appropriate that the new tech event held in conjunction with Sloss Fest this year is called Sloss Tech. “We created Sloss Tech to give Birmingham a SXSW-type event over one weekend,” says Greg Wingo, member services manager at TechBirmingham, a 501(c)(6) nonprofit organization that conceived of this festival. “Out of the gate, this inaugural event has one of the strongest line-ups possible compared to any similar event around the country.”
The tech event, occurring a day before the Sloss Fest activities, is indeed packed with a mix of sessions that bring in focus to the local while looking out to the larger ecosystem. In a single day, they’ve managed to bring in three noted speakers: Gary Vaynerchuk, Robert Scoble and Andy Grignon. There are still a few tickets left for purchase, and all for a good cause. All profits will go to further TechBirmingham’s mission of strengthening the local tech ecosystem. Perhaps their past as a major Southeast railroad hub gives them a better understanding that a hub becomes one only when there are others connected to it.
What does Wingo want the attendees to take away from Sloss Tech? “We hope they will take away a better understanding of what’s happening in Birmingham from a tech standpoint, as well as a desire to help us continue to get the word out regionally and nationally about our desire to attract tech talent to this great city. We also want them to see that Birmingham is serious about growing the tech industry here and TechBirmingham is willing to step out and create a first class event like Sloss Tech to show where we are going as a community.”
Wingo also said that the event is a physical representation of the campaign that allows them to inform local and regional tech enthusiasts about the emergence and growth of Birmingham’s tech ecosystem. Though Sloss Tech will not be at Birmingham’s historic landmark, how thoughtful that the event’s name itself captures both the heritage and the future of The Magic City.