Sunday, May 29, 2016

If I Were Mayor Of Greensboro: Part 6

This is part of an ongoing series of posts that begins with If I Were Mayor Of Greensboro and is linked in succession back to here. If you haven't already I recommend you read them all.

No one has to look any farther than Billy's Big List Of Documented Reasons Why Greensboro Sucks, to know our city faces dire straits. Conservatives and Liberal alike are critical of our current city leadership.

And change simply isn't on the horizon.

Now here's something to think about. At Greater Greensboro Politics, Mack Arrington points to a Bloomberg video titled Forward Thinking: March of the Machines and asks:

"Any ideas on how Greensboro could plan ahead for 60% loss of jobs to automation by 2025?
Automation is already cheaper than payroll, you can install a robotic that is cheaper than you can pay $10 per hour. People without income can't pay taxes or buy products and services—even products and services produced by the robots. Interesting predictions I don't think we can afford to ignore"

If you watched the video you know truck drivers will quickly be eliminated. It just so happens that Greensboro's long history of investing in logistics means that much of our local work force is made up of truck drivers.

Have we forgotten Nancy Vaughan's $120 Million taxpayer dollar FedEx expansion promising 1,500 jobs and delivering ZERO jobs?

As the video points out, in the first decade of the 21st century the net increase in jobs in the USA has been ZERO.

The fact is: almost all jobs are susceptible to being replaced by automation. And perhaps we can't stop it but we can slow it down.

So how do we do just that?

1. As Mayor of Greensboro I would get behind the Greensboro Currency Project. Why? Because local currencies stay local.  From the 2006 Greensboro Partnership STRATEGIC PLAN FOR A BETTER ECONOMY AND VIBRANT COMMUNITY:  Raising The Bar:
"Availability of capital is the single most important factor in stimulating entrepreneurship, and Greensboro needs to make more available.

Greensboro is believed to be a net “exporter” of venture capital and currently can claim only four main resident sources for early stage companies: 1) the Chamber’s Venture Capital Fund, a high risk loan pool funded by area banks; 2) the City of Greensboro’s Targeted Loan Program focused on small loans to businesses locating or expanding in to designated economic development zones; 3) the Piedmont Angel Network (PAN), a $4.5 M equity fund that willinvest up to $500,000 in early-stage companies within a three-hour drive of the Triad; and, 4) the Inception Micro Angel Fund (IMAF), a $600,000 equity fund that will invest $25,000–100,000 in seed-stage companies in the Triad. Relatively small investments by Greensboro organizations and business leaders in these and other seed-stage capital funds can have significant impacts on assisting the development of small, high growth enterprises and attracting entrepreneurs to our community."
And folks it's not just venture capital that leaves our city. Every dime you spend on imported goods goes to somewhere else. But as local currency can only be spent locally it stays in the local economy. And keeping money in the economy is step 1 of any plan to revive any local economy and put people back to work.

As Mayor of Greensboro I would work to build local manufacturing villages in our communities where people live. These don't have to be giant manufacturing facilities. A group of small manufacturers using a converted shopping center, old municipal building or old school building could share a loading dock and a fork lift. Why should we have to live with run down empty buildings and no jobs when they could be converted to so many other uses?

Not far from my home sits an empty lot where once stood a Greensboro City School. When the school was closed it was feared that despite the fact that the building was still perfectly usable and no older than several other schools that are still in use over 20 years later, that an abandoned building could not be allowed to stand there. It remains an empty lot today, an asset going to waste.

This should never happen again. Be it the City of Greensboro, Guilford County or Guilford County Schools, usable buildings should be put to some kind of use. And in Greensboro it happens all the time.

3. We must take inventory of our assets so that we know what we have to work with. My example above was caused by the School System but City government is just as guilty. It's not just buildings. It's everything the City of Greensboro owns, land, houses, machinery, commercial buildings, cars, tools, equipment, golf carts.... And much of going to waste or being sold off through a surplus property program designed to sell City owned properties at pennies on the dollar while allowing certain connected individuals first pick before the public even knows these things exist.

Three lots north of my home is an abandoned City owned lot that was sold to a developer last winter. At least the City kept it mowed. The developer has yet to mow it and the grass and weeds are now over 3' tall. Why haven't I called the City? Because I want to see just how bad it will get.

So who is the developer? The same developer owns the two story duplex in the background and they're connected to the Agapion family. The cars there are actually in the yard of the duplex which the Agapions built with a driveway just large enough for just 1 car.

A better use of these so-called surplus properties would be to put them to use in our neighborhoods where they are needed. But department managers, knowing they will face budget cuts if they don't spend their entire budgets, buy new and send the not so new out the door cheap.

And bean counters with their entire focus on the bottom line and no interest in what is best for our communities, could really care less.

4. It's time we tossed the developers out. The lies they and the local media perpetrate to assure the continued funding of their projects are bleeding we-the-working-class taxpayers to death. Take for instance the $120 Million Dollar FedEx Expansion lead by, among others, Nancy Barakat Vaughan:

The City of Greensboro got Zero jobs because of automation. And to add insult to injury, because the FedEx hub is located within PTI the City of Greensboro gets ZERO tax dollars from the project. You see, Piedmont Triad International Airport is in-effect its own municipal entity and answers to, nor pays taxes to any city or county government.

And when you challenge them as to what happened to all those jobs they make excuses or point the finger at those who are pointing out what the problems really are.

As I wrote in my long ago post, How To Bring Manufacturing Back And Turn Around Greensboro's Economy  "They talk about transportation hubs... for what? Empty trailers?"

And when it comes to Greensboro's overall history of incentives... Everything you have been told is a lie.

Shopping centers won't solve our problems when people have no money to shop. Only local manufacturing of products made by people can slow the rise of the machines. And before you say it, there is a way to keep people on the assembly lines without having them replaced by machines. I'll tell you about that in If I Were Mayor Of Greensboro: Part 7.

But before that can be successful the things I've outlined above must be accomplished.