I'd like to begin by saying nowhere in the study do they mention the need for handing money and property to commercial real estate developers as a means of economic development or getting ready for the future. Nor do they mention incentives. The two things Greensboro seems always ready, willing and able to do. But beginning on page 19 they write:
"An Epitaph for the Past
The way capitalism, business, and economics operated for the last thousand or more years is no longer applicable. If someone wanted to create a new product, they had to figure out where the raw materials were coming from and they had to acquire them, process them into goods, and transport the finished products to a retailer who could deliver consumers. That requires lots of time and capital, and ensured that there was a huge amount of information differential between all of those steps in the process. The retailer, for example, probably had no idea what the manufacturer went through or paid to produce those products"
Did you catch that first line? "The way capitalism, business, and economics operated for the last thousand or more years is no longer applicable." They're right, the Colonial powers have fallen. Entrepreneurs can go where the money is so as long as Greensboro's status quo chooses to continue to allow Greensboro to export more capital than Greensboro takes in Greensboro's entrepreneurs will follow that capital. The writers of the white paper even say as much in their very next paragraph:
"Today, by contrast, entrepreneurs can bypass the bank and access capital through crowd-funding sites like Kickstarter. Rather than waiting for products to arrive by ship, they can be produced with 3D printing. GE has actually printed a jet engine that works, and they can even print the electronic circuits and sensors that are the engine’s components."
That said, I'm not sold on 3D printing for anything more than prototyping in most applications as it is simply too slow for mass production of consumer items. And as a rule following capital doesn't entail using Kickstarter when you are looking to start a Million Dollar company. You take your idea and go where you hear they're investing money.
On page 20 they write:
Historically, the community tried to attract business with jobs and then the people would travel to the jobs. But today the physical infrastructure is less important than the virtual infrastructure.
That is going to cause a fundamental shift for cities and communities of all sizes. There is a changing focus on the population versus the businesses. Create a place where people want to live, and business will migrate there – unlike the traditional dynamic of establishing businesses that attract workers who subsequently build communities and cities.
The future will likely mean major transformations in industries, the nature of the work, and the demographics of the population and the work they are want to do. But one element does not lend itself to change."
Did you catch the line, "Create a place where people want to live, and business will migrate there?" I searched this blog using the words where people want to live and found I'd said the same thing time and time again going back years. Guess I should start charging my readers outrageous fees in order to make myself more believable.
Again, it ain't about incentives and commercial real estate development. The white paper makes no mention of downtown hotels or performing arts centers. They even poo-pooed the need for more parking in downtown Boston, a city that makes Greensboro's parking problems seem non existent.
Stay tuned for Greensboro Not Ranked Future Ready: Part 3 and listen for the sounds of Greensboro's dinosaurs of economic development tumbling to the ground in a wave of mass extension that threatens to crush us all.