Friday, December 16, 2016

Rhino; "The reports have been the same for years: Greensboro is poised for growth"

"The Greensboro City Council Economic Development Committee meeting Tuesday, Dec. 13 was like some avant-garde play where the actors switch roles at the end of each scene.

Zack Matheny was there in the Plaza Level Conference Room as president of Downtown Greensboro Inc. (DGI).  Before becoming president of DGI, Matheny was a city councilmember and chairman of this committee.

Councilmember Jamal Fox is now chairman.  He used to be a city employee.

Kathi Dubel was there representing the city economic development office.  She used to be with what was the Greensboro Partnership and is now the Greensboro Chamber of Commerce.

What made it all so surreal is that with a few changes the reports could have been given when Matheny was chairman, Dubel was with the Partnership or Fox was working for City Manager Rashad Young.

It's the same old content repackaged with new graphics and designs...

The reports have been the same for years: Greensboro is poised for growth.  According to these reports through the years on economic development, in Greensboro, the city has been crouched at the starting line waiting for the starter's gun for so long that rigor mortis might have set in.

...East Market Street Development Corporation took over a year to change its name, but it is East Greensboro NOW, and it hasn't changed its stripes...

Matheny talked about all the investments being made downtown and the $25 million in bond money that was going to be spent.

Sue Schwartz, the Greensboro planning director, gave a report that lifted the meeting out of the mundane into the surreal.  Schwartz said that the area around I-40 and Gate City Boulevard was being designated as an "innovation village."  And because of this, according to Schwartz, young people are going to flock to the area.

It defies credibility that young people are going to move to a portion of Greensboro that doesn't have much going for it other than a whole lot of government expenditure because some Greensboro employee circled an area on a map and wrote "innovation village" in the circle.

It's unfair to say that it is simply an area that has been circled on the map.  The city is also going to do a study on the area.

It sounds crazy, but this is what passes for economic development in Greensboro...

...remember when the new FedEx facility at the airport was going to change Greensboro?  FedEx has been there now for years and hasn't changed anything...

The latest report on the Greensboro-Randolph megasite includes a sharp new video promoting the site.  It's well done and stars Richard Petty...

...When Greensboro goes to the legislature and asks for a $200 million economic incentive to attract an advanced manufacturing plant to its megasite, there is going to be strong resistance.

Off the record, some state legislators say there is no way the state House and Senate are going to approve any amount of money for Greensboro because of the statements made and actions taken by members of the Greensboro City Council.

...City Manager Jim Westmoreland gave the report from the Guilford County Economic Development Alliance (GCEDA), which is not to be confused with the old Greensboro Economic Development Alliance, the Triad Business Development Alliance, the Piedmont Triad Partnership or any of the other alliances and partnerships in the area.

...The report titled "A Marketing Blueprint for Guilford County" looks like a middle school report on how to get along with others.  Here are the quotes in blocks across the cover: "Guilford County should be itself and not try to copy everyone else," "We need to have a niche and stick with it,"...

...Wilkins held up the report and asked Westmoreland, "Was there absolutely anything in here that you didn't already know?"

Westmoreland said that it was a combined plan.

Wilkins followed up: "Isn't it the same plan that we have always been focused on?"

...The highlight of the meeting was when Councilmember Sharon Hightower, who is not a member of the committee, came to the meeting late and started to ask a whole bunch of questions.  Hightower has been asking the same questions for years, so it would have been in keeping with the tenor of the meeting for Hightower to launch into the same tired questions, but Fox said no.  Hightower tried to get started again and Fox said she could ask her questions later and that was the end of it.  Mayor Nancy Vaughan might want to try that at the next City Council meeting.

All in all it was the same economic development report that has been given to the City Council and City Council committees for at least the past 10 years.  As noted, some of the people have changed titles and some of the organizations have new names, but the report is always the same.

Greensboro is poised for growth, but not growing."