“Established in 1988, The Birmingham Venture Club’s Jemison Award program recognizes today’s high growth, high value entrepreneurs while honoring the legacy of Mr. Jemison and other venture capital trailblazers.”
—James Outland, Past Chairman
Jemison Award Selection Committee

The Jemison Award is Alabama’s most prestigious honor recognizing high quality, fast-growth companies based in the Birmingham area.

Must demonstrate viable business model, i.e., company size, industry, cash flow, etc.
Must be based in the seven-county Birmingham region
Must have at least one third party investor that is not a company employee


  • Outstanding sales growth
  • Impressive turnaround situation
  • Unique financing completed with a bank or outside investor group
  • Company has reached an annual sales level greater than $2 million
  • Founded within last 12 years, or has had a significant change in ownership within last five years
  • Major restructuring of the Company’s marketing and/or operations

Who was John S. Jemison, Jr?

John S. Jemison, Jr. is still remembered as one of the city’s most outstanding businessmen and leaders. Born in Birmingham in 1908, he graduated from the University of North Carolina in 1931 and began his career as a loan officer with today’s Chase Manhattan of New York. He later moved to Goldman, Sachs & Co., New York, one of the largest underwriters of industrial securities in the U.S.

In 1947, Mr. Jemison returned to Birmingham—where he was resident partner at Marx & Co., investment bankers, of Birmingham and New York City. In 1955, Mr. Jemison left Marx & Co. to form Jemison Investment Co., Inc. From that point until his death in 1988, he truly earned the title of “deal maker.”

Under Mr. Jemison’s leadership, Jemison Investment became a highly diversified holding company—with interests in lumber products, building materials, steel containers, slurry & dredge pump manufacturing, magazine publishing and real estate.

Mr. Jemison helped countless young entrepreneurs start or buy businesses. His reputation for openness and integrity in all his business dealings inspired absolute trust among those who turned to him for advice and investment expertise. His motto was “work hard, and have fun doing it!” Those fortunate enough to have known Mr. Jemison will tell you he lived his own motto every day.

Mr. Jemison contributed so much to the Birmingham business community—through the growth of businesses, the development of careers, and the creation of jobs and wealth for so many. His contributions to the community are still felt today. The Birmingham Venture Club is honored to offer its annual award in his name. John Jemison’s reputation as “deal maker” was firmly established long before the term “venture capital” came into vogue. He was truly Birmingham’s first venture capitalist.