All things considered, Birmingham is not a bad place to be. It’s small for a big city, and too big to be a town. The lack of super-skyscrapers downtown is a direct byproduct of having an airport within sight — and that’s a rare thing these days.

The air is a lot cleaner these days, that the major industries are education and healthcare. And Birmingham has one of the most impressive underground fiber-optic infrastructures in the country.

Yet when you mention Birmingham outside of the region, most people are still stuck on discrimination, hoses, police dogs, dirt roads, and outhouses.

What has not changed is Birmingham’s success in telling its own compelling story to national and international audiences. As a result, there is little perception in key national markets of the Birmingham region as a place that not only exemplifies the possibilities of progressive change, but is building on the foundation of that change by seeking to develop its financial, logistical and human resources to the fullest extent. Yes, Birmingham has changed; but most of the nation – or, more to the point, most key corporate location decision-makers, most would-be entrepreneurs, most skilled talent in high-growth business fields – does not know that, or care to know it.

click here to view this videoTechBirmingham is out to change that, and is actively pitching emerging tech industries. In my past life, I did a couple of features on these businesses that thanks to the internet could locate anywhere. Why not pick a place where you could set up in a historic brick building with character — enjoy a comparitively low cost of living — take a 15 minute drive to the airport if you need to fly — and still plug into a T3?

TechBirmingham is hitting this project on several fronts, including a local television PSA campaign aimed at educating locals about the advantages they enjoy. It’s volunteers have also embarked on a project to showcase all 199 (and counting) wireless access points within the metro. (Which includes all 5 acres of Vulcan Park. Free.) They are blogging about it here.

I’ll be tracking their efforts as they go, and may even pitch in as my schedule allows. (Although among my full-time job, my freelance consulting, my family, and my Kung Fu students, there’s not a lot of time left.)