Thursday, September 25, 2014

How To Bring Greensboro Out Of Poverty: Part 4

As I wrote in Part 2 of the series, How To Bring Greensboro Out Of Poverty this is an evolving plan subject to updates and changes to meet changing needs. I remember former Greensboro Mayor Robbie Perkins publicly defending the proposed Florida Street extension across the A&T University Farm saying, "It's been on the books for 40 years." and thinking to myself, We didn't need it 40 years ago and we're not going to need it 40 years into the future-- change the plan.

And so with that I added #8

"Employ the long time unemployed first. Providing new jobs to people who already have jobs really doesn't do much to help unemployment and reduce poverty and tends to recruit workers who commute from out of town. Those workers contribute little to our local economy."

to the list of ground rules in Part 1 If you think something else needs to be added I'll be happy to discuss it.

In Part 3 I suggested investing the City's $272 Million Dollar "Rainy Day Fund" in local businesses as a means of getting our local economy moving, putting people to work and putting money in workers' pockets. I mean it's not like the City of Greensboro isn't already investing in stocks and bonds with that money, why not invest some of it locally instead of giving all the profits to Wall Street?

The City could determine which local businesses it would invest in based not only on profitability but in what that business can return to the community in the long run. Having such a program in place might well attract exciting start-ups and the possibility that pissed-off politicians might dump large numbers of shares of corporate stocks on the market thus driving down share prices might be enough to cause a company to reconsider leaving town. After all, money talks and bullshit walks.

Greensboro might want to be quicker to invest in companies that pay higher wages, provide better benefits or both.

Greensboro might want to be quicker to invest in green businesses. Investing in this way would give Greensboro a certain amount of control over the kinds of businesses that locate here thus allowing us to become more sustainable economically and ecologically.

The City could work with local businesses and business start-ups to help them through the hurdles of going public. That should be the roll of our economic development agencies rather than spending vast fortunes gallivanting around the globe chasing the same dreams every other city in the first world is chasing. Like I wrote in Part 1:

"Stop doing what everyone else is doing. No one ever became a leader by playing follow the leader."

Jim "The Bobblehead" Melvin has been pushing for Greensboro to be like Charlotte for the last 50 years, I say be the city Charlotte wants to emulate.

What kind of City would you like Greensboro to be? Answer that question, add $272 Million Dollars that we already have and you'll have the answer as to how to bring Greensboro out of poverty. The one thing I can tell you with all certainty is that construction and real estate development are not economic drivers and cannot be depended on to get us out of this mess.

To be continued in Part 5