Tuesday, March 22, 2016

No One Wants To Be Branded

Economic development "gurus" just don't get it. The reason every single effort to brand Greensboro has failed is because nobody likes to be branded. Being branded implies ownership. People and the communities in which they live don't want to imply they are owned by anyone. The days of mill towns are over, no longer do we want to live under the good ol' boy system that concentrates all the wealth and power in the hands and wallets of just a few while the rest of us slave away barely getting by no matter what fancy name you give us.

And yet just a few days ago Rhino Times hack, Scott Yost promotes the latest effort at branding our communities in his "article" Economic Development Group Consultants Seek Consultants-- as pathetic an attempt at PR as I've ever seen.

In it Mr Yost writes:

"In January, at the first meeting of the Leadership Group, Greensboro Mayor Nancy Vaughan expressed concerns that there didn’t seem to be any up-to-date list of sites available for development in the county.  That issue has come up several times before, and Vaughan wants this to be addressed as the action plan is created."

Apparently there still isn't any up-to-date list of sites because nowhere in the article does Yost make any other mention of it. Besides, if an
up-to-date list of sites were to be published the public would then realize no more new projects are needed and the need for sites is just another lie. As a matter of fact: the sole purpose of the new Guilford County Economic Development Alliance (GCEDA) seems to be building more new sites and selling a branding package to area taxpayers.

Yost also writes:

"Christensen also said the new branding and marketing effort for Guilford County would be a key part of this process.  

He added that, at this point, a little vagueness in the RFQ was a good thing.
“We don’t want to go into too much detail here because we want them to come back [with ideas],” Christensen said.  “We don’t want this to be too prescriptive.  And this is not an RFP [request for proposals] – this is an RFQ.  So we want them to come back and say, ‘Based on your needs on the questions you’re asking, here’s the way we would propose to do this’; and we would also ask them their qualifications and some of the past work that they’ve done that’s very similar – rather than just coming back with a dollar amount.  Let us get comfortable with who we think can do this and then start negotiating the amount from there.”

The RFQ is being disseminated through groups such as the NC Economic Developers Association, the International Economic Development Council and the Site Selectors Guild."

Just like Christensen said, branding and marketing will be a key part. All you have to do is look up who they're planning to disseminate the RFQ through. Let's begin with the  International Economic Development Council whose membership is secret but whose biggest sponsor is none other than Atlas Advertising located in Denver, Colorado and specializing in marketing to municipal and state governments.

So Step 1 of
the new Guilford County Economic Development Alliance (GCEDA) new economic development plan will be to send hundreds of thousands, perhaps millions of local tax dollars to Denver, Colorado so that we may never see them again.

Then there's the NC Economic Developers Association whose members are secret and whose sponsors are among the largest recipients of taxpayer dollars in the State of North Carolina.

"The Site Selectors Guild is the only association of the world’s foremost professional site selection consultants. Guild members provide location strategy to corporations across the globe and for every industry, sector, and function. Founded in 2010, the Site Selectors Guild is dedicated to advancing the profession of international corporate site selection by promoting integrity, objectivity, and professional development. Members are peer-nominated, vetted, and must demonstrate a significant amount of location advisory experience. Guild Membership is the highest standard in the site selection industry."

That's a pretty big claim for a company that is just turning 6 years old.

Economic development "gurus" just don't get it. Or perhaps they do get it but keep doing what they are doing because real economic development isn't what they are paid to do.