Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Hey Marty Kotis, Are You Paying Attention?

Marty Kotis and I had a few cross words over the weekend and while we did speak briefly at the Mayor's East Greensboro Summit last night I do have some corrections to write. But before I do that I'd like to run some ideas up the flag pole.

Marty mentioned several mistakes he's found in the Tabb Study that the Mayor and Michael Tabb were trying to sell last night as the entire reason for last night's meeting was to pitch more big box retail for East Greensboro but as the gentleman from the Nussbalm Center pointed out we need to be thinking about how we can support local businesses instead of big box retailers that take the profits out of Greensboro.

Now it would seem as if that puts Marty in a bind as his primary business is building shopping centers anchored by big box retail stores but it doesn't have to be that way. I'm sure Marty would be quite happy to rent his shopping centers to locally owned businesses if there were locally owned businesses who could afford big box rents. The potential villain here isn't Marty but could be the Greensboro City Council.

You see, it used to be that companies like Ford, Chrysler and General Motors built things like downtown performing arts centers in the cities where their companies were headquartered. Now days we are told these big companies expect the working class to build it for them. And while its true that Marty is one of the wealthiest people I've ever met he is certainly no Ford, GM or Chrysler. Maybe someday, but not yet.

So being that I can't honestly expect Marty to pick up the tab for all of Greensboro's wants and "needs" I thought there has to be another way.

I don't know much about Marty's business but one big problem Marty faces is what to do with a big box store once the retailer moves to greener pastures say to a bigger location in the new shopping center built out in the more affluent area on the urban loop. Believe it or not, Marty has properties that haven't earned him a dime in years.

But what if Marty had a tenant that would never leave? For starters, he could spread the cost of that building out over a longer period of time and charge less rent while still returning just as much profit. And what if that tenant was local? Now the community-- the same community Marty is a part of-- gets to keep the profits. Now all of Greensboro gains.

Of course, what I'm talking about is an extension of my Greensboro Economic Plan which I know seems to fly in the face of capitalism but I believe with capitalism comes responsibility to community and in an economic downturn it becomes the responsibility of those who have the most to rethink how they make their money in order to prop up the very system that keeps them wealthy. And until the big box retailers decide it's time to invest in the communities where they reap their fortunes and own up to their responsibilities I believe anything is fair game.

Oh, and Marty, I really meant it when I said your brewery was the kind of thinking I'm looking for from Greensboro's leaders.