Friday, March 25, 2016

What's Wrong And One Step Towards Fixing It

We can pay college professors life UNCG's Keith Debbage to tell us what's wrong but sadly the professor offers no solutions as to how to fix Greensboro's economic woes in his annual State of the City Report:

"This city is like a hospital patient who just can’t seem to get well."

And what pisses me off the most is that I have been saying those very same things right here on the pages of for almost 5 years while neither Professor Debbage nor anyone else listened.

Reporter Richard Barron writes:

"The number of jobs is growing, but they are not necessarily the kinds of jobs that can support a family. The Greensboro-High Point metro area’s unemployment rate has dropped significantly since the 2008 recession to 5.8 percent, a sign that the cities have nearly recovered the jobs lost.

During that time, community leaders were encouraged that even some of the best jobs in manufacturing were increasing.

But after several years of growth, the percentage of manufacturing jobs has declined from 13.2 percent of all jobs in 2012 to 10.5 percent in 2014, the last year for which data is available. In total, manufacturing jobs have decreased from 15,438 in 2011 to 14,019 jobs in 2014."

Exactly what I've been telling anyone who would listen.

"Still, economic developers would rather not see retail jobs, with such low salaries, dominate employment growth.

“The one thing we seem to be very good at is generating retail jobs,” Debbage said."

Look around people, they're building shopping centers and empty megasites for automakers who have already gone to South Carolina, Mexico and China.

"The financial services sector, which includes insurance and real estate, is a bright spot with a problem. Wages for these workers have increased dramatically — by 7.5 percent — since 2013. Unfortunately, the share of those jobs in the local workforce has declined from 8 percent in 2012 to 6.2 percent in 2014. Financial services jobs offer the highest annual wage in the city, at $66,244."

And with that I want to talk about one possible way the City of Greensboro, High Point and Guilford County could work together to turn around our economic woes while capitalizing on growth in the insurance industry.

You see, despite the fact that Obama Care was supposed to solve all our insurance and healthcare woes this liberal is smart enough to know that isn't the case. As a matter of fact, after 6 years I am finally getting some medical care via something called a Guilford County Orange Card. Waits are long, providers few, coverage is minimal and I have no coverage should I get sick or injured outside of Guilford County but at least it's something.

And even with Obama Care, health Insurance remains one of the largest expenses most businesses and many individuals face. But what if we approached insurance a completely different way?

The total population of Guilford County, Greensboro, High Point and all the smaller communities combined is approaching 500,000 people. Cone Health, our county's largest employer, has roughly 7.000 employees plus family members to insure. The City of Greensboro insures roughly 3,500 workers plus family members. The City of High Point provides insurance for a huge chunk of people as well. I'm sure Cone Health, the City of Greensboro and the City of High Point are able to negotiate much better rates with insurance companies than say your average mom and pop business that employs just 3 or 4 people.

But what kind of rate could be negotiated if Cone Health, the City of Greensboro and the City of High Point were to form a buyers' co-op and buy insurance as a group?

And what kind of rate could be negotiated if Cone Health, the City of Greensboro and the City of High Point, Guilford County and hundreds of employers all across Guilford County were to form a buyers' co-op and buy insurance as a giant group representing hundreds of thousands of people?

And can you imagine telling prospective employers,entrepreneurs, and business owners that by bringing their businesses to Guilford County, North Carolina rather than anywhere else in the nation they will automatically have the lowest healthcare cost in the nation.

This isn't the kind of thing a few small businesses can do on their own but I'm betting a lot of them would be very happy to take part in building and becoming members in an insurance buyers' co-op if local leaders were to take the time to invest in our local economy. After all, you're looking at a potential pool of hundreds of thousands of customers, it's worth investigating all the legal and logistical hurdles.