Greensboro economic development seems to lose the vision

I’ve been thinking about my fair city of Greensboro lately. A lot about why I’ve pulled away from participating as much in economic development. Why while I think everything has gone very well so far, it seems to stray from the path that will lead it to bigger and better things. My perspective, but one that seems to fashion alternative thinking than the same ol’ “yes man” attitudes.
One current annoyance right now is where the city proposed to raise the fees for the privilege license to do business within Greensboro. To tell the truth, as a business co-owner, the license fee isn’t all that bad currently. But for the proposed raise, the maximum cap of $10,000 would really hurt the small businesses that are fighting to stay alive. What’s interesting is that this cap raise would also make us less viable to locate small businesses here than say… Winston-Salem.
Ick.
So now the City Council is reconsidering after an uproar raised by small business owners. They really need to take this into account. Especially with some of the things I’ve been thinking about for a couple months now.


I tell you what. Lately, I’ve been out of the loop with local economic development and such. Not because I’ve used up what little time I have for such volunteer work. It’s because with all the potential of the last couple of years with Greensboro, it seems like people have no vision. No big picture. No offense but young leaders and old alike… it’s stalled.
I give you David Wharton’s great writings on parks as an example. Yes, Center City Park was indeed a needed thing regardless of all the nayesayers. Greenery always helps out a dreary backdrop of gray concrete. One of the reasons I chose North Carolina in the first place over the alternatives. But then suddenly with the success of Center City Park, we seem to be throwing parks left and right in like they’re supposed to be the messiah in helping making things happen or better. I’m with you all the way on this, DW. They need to seriously look into restoring some of the older architecture, and perhaps even build in the style of the mill era. Bring some of the charm of small towns back while growing into a larger city. I’ve often used Asheville as an example, but hey…. their downtown rocks.
winstonsalemsummerschedule.jpg I know that Sue and I have had this discussion many times. What exactly is the Chamber of Commerce doing for us ( small businesses)? Not a whole lot in my honest opinion. We lack affordable health care, some of us lack affordable business insurance. Chamber members should get discounts of some sort that they (the Chamber) set up for these things to draw businesses forward. Currently, my business is not part of the Chamber because… well, we don’t see it being worth the money for joining. I get a plaque that says I’m a member and two tickets for some fancy dinner? Thanks but no thanks.
Winston-Salem is fashioning more and more into a pretty interesting place to be with their hustle and bustle. Restaurants supposedly get all sorts of sweet deals to locate there. Then there’s the postcards of activities going on throughout the summer that has been passed out to all sorts of people. The weekends during the summer apparently start on Thursdays with streets roped off and things going on. Billy Prim and company are now looking to build a stadium there for the Warthogs. It won’t be long before Greensboro loses one of the few things it has to differentiate itself from the rest of the Triad. Winston-Salem seems to be getting some things done, and this is outside of the festivals such as Ribfest that happen to also go on. Not that I care for the city all that much, but some direction is better than aiming in the dark.
Greensboro really needs to refocus. Seriously. Parks? Quit doing that. Focus on small business build out. Focus on incentives for upcomers, and job creation but less on established big business (sorry guys, but you do get a whole lot of breaks than the rest of us). Build out downtown more in the Asheville type style, but start sending incentives to keep businesses there and maintain a great place to hang out and places for families (maybe a small movie theater surrounded by shops like the Broadway area in Seattle)? Play your strong cards (arts, and community) and bolster your weak ones (improving small business relations). You have a couple powerhouse foundations backing you that can’t be matched elsewhere, but use them wisely.
In the end, my critical words are … well just that. Words. But don’t drive away big city boys like myself to neighboring cities. It’s not why I fell in love with this place. Keep a focus in mind on what you want to do with the city, instead of just shooting ideas in the dark hoping that one will stick with no long-term ideas in mind.

  • One need only go to each city’s Business Expo to see the difference. W-S, Free to attend and park, was crowded all day. GSO, $10 ticket and $5 parking, was a ghost town. Both were held weeks ago.

  • One need only go to each city’s Business Expo to see the difference. W-S, Free to attend and park, was crowded all day. GSO, $10 ticket and $5 parking, was a ghost town. Both were held weeks ago.

  • This city has a very long history of doing the very things you point out.
    Sadly, “Economic development” has become code for getting in bed with Multinational Corporations and our small businesses are left behind.

  • This city has a very long history of doing the very things you point out.
    Sadly, “Economic development” has become code for getting in bed with Multinational Corporations and our small businesses are left behind.