BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WIAT) — The future of Birmingham is biotechnology.

That’s the pitch for this weekend’s Emerge BHM conference, spearheaded by Josh Carpenter and his team at Southern Research. Leaders from around the biotech sector are gathering in the Magic City because they believe tomorrow’s newest empire can be found here.

”Well, we really believe just as steel was our past, biotech is our future,” Carpenter said. “We are excited to bring national voices into Birmingham to see the momentum that we have here but also to help us connect with the momentum that is happening elsewhere.”

Neel Varshney, MD and founding partner of Patient Square Capital, is bullish on Birmingham.

”I think Birmingham’s in a great spot for this, I really do,” Varshney said. “You’ve got a world-renowned institution, a world-renowned healthcare system, what we need is more attention on the possibilities.”

Leaders and investors in biotech are being exposed to a Birmingham that may not be what they expected — a city with key assets already in place.

Possibilities and opportunities that are catching the attention of decision-makers on the national scene like Susan Monarez, deputy director of DC-based ARPA-H — a research funding agency that supports biomedical and health breakthroughs.

”I am super excited for what Josh, Birmingham and the state of Alabama are doing not just in biotech innovation but in health innovation across the ecosystem,” Monarez said.

The signs of growth and progress are hard to miss and span the city center. From multiple construction projects for UAB and Southern Research to Edgehill at Southtown, a 26-acre development at the former site of Southtown Court, projects that Carpenter says point to a future full of opportunity.

”Southern Research has about $140 million in active construction right now, which is really exciting,” Carpenter said. “In addition to the half-a-billion dollars of construction at UAB … We are excited about future public-private partnerships. but I think that the momentum that’s happening at Southtown is something that’s going to be fun to keep an eye on over the next year.”

The conference will run through Saturday.