Tag Archives: piedmont triad

Summerfield Town Council Has an Interesting Perspective on Marriage

According to The Northwest Observer the Summerfield Town Council has decided that the spouses of Council members may serve on town committees but they can't be voting members.  From the article:

Council began discussing the issue after Town Manager Michael Brandt recommended that council members’ relatives be allowed to serve only as nonvoting committee members. Brandt said because of their relationship to council members, relatives might carry more weight on committees and it might be difficult for the town manager to discipline them if they did something wrong.

The Council applied the recommendation to spouses but not to other relatives, which leads me to think that they have a different point of view on marriage than I do.  I can guarantee you that of all her relatives I'm the least influential on my wife.

I'd love to be a fly on the wall when someone tries to tell my wife she can't do anything just because she happens to be married to me.  Actually, I wouldn't want to be anywhere near that explosion because I'd definitely catch some shrapnel, but you get my point.

Split Google Loyalties

Today I attended the Linking Winston-Salem luncheon and part of the program was a plea to support the Winston-Salem effort to get Googled. Winston-Salem is a little late getting started with its public push, especially when you compare it to Greensboro's weeks old effort, but I guess it's better late than never, and since I live in the Winston-Salem burbs I'm happy to see them going for it.

On the other hand thanks to my job and my long-time interest in the Greensboro blog community I've also been invited to participate in their various Google-wooing efforts.  Typical of Greensboro they've been working out the kinks in public, but they seem to be making decent headway.

I've been thinking about this and I've come to the conclusion that I can't be the only one who's in this situation.  I'm guessing that since this isn't an election I can vote for as many municipalities as I want, but I'm also guessing that Greensboro and Winston-Salem could be missing an opportunity.  Wouldn't a consolidated, regional effort for the Triad make a lot of sense to Google?  I haven't studied the requirements in depth so I don't know if this is even an option, but if it is I can think of a lot of compelling reasons for a Piedmont Triad effort:

  • The combination of all the higher ed institutions in the Triad is pretty impressive (Wake, UNCG, Winston-Salem State, NC A&T, High Point U, Salem College, Greensboro College, UNCSA, etc.)
  • The combination of all the large, public corporations between the two cities
  • Each of the cities is doing some pretty cool economic development on its own (FedEx and HondaJet in Greensboro, PTRP in Winston-Salem) but when considered together the efforts seem even more impressive

That's just three positives off the top of my head, and I'm sure that there are people who will let me know if I'm all wet, but I still have to ask if a joint effort has even been contemplated?

I do realize that Google's basic info page says "We'll offer service at a competitive price to at least 50,000 and potentially up to 500,000 people" and that even if you combined only Greensboro and Winston-Salem you'd be awful close to the upper limit so the entire Triad would obviously exceed it.  Still, if Google's going to wire multiple mid-sized cities wouldn't it be of interest to them to do a couple in close proximity for purely logistical reasons?  And if that's the case wouldn't it make sense for the various players in the Triad to throw in together to make a really, really compelling case with Google?  Just askin'.

Triad Restaurant Week

Here's something I can definitely get into.  It's Triad Restaurant Week from November 13-22 and there are plenty of good restaurants participating in Winston-Salem, Greensboro and High Point.  The participating restaurants are providing specially priced three course meals.  Since I hit all three cities at some point in any given week this gives me a great excuse to eat out.  A lot.  Like I need an excuse.

Thanks to Sarah South for the link.

Dell Hell, NC Version

**Update** If you'd like to see a really good discussion about the Dell situation then head over to Cone's blog and check out the comments.  No shouting and lots of thought behind the comments.  Really good stuff. 

A couple of years back Jeff Jarvis, author of What Would Google Do?, blogged about a very negative experience he had with Dell and he dubbed it Dell Hell.  After yesterday's news that Dell is closing down their desktop plant here in Winston-Salem I'd say we're having our own version of Dell Hell.

Yesterday I wrote that Dell's move couldn't possibly have been a surprise to anyone who's been awake the last 18 months.  Ed Cone quoted me on his blog and since at least one of his commenters suggested that it is a surprise to a lot of people I felt compelled to explain myself in the comments:

The reason I wrote that it shouldn't be a surprise was really an observation that given the overall economic environment of the last 18 months, the fact that the plant was built to produce desktops, that the market has been moving strongly towards laptops and Dell didn't seem to be interested in re-tooling the plant to produce laptops and that Dell has been reducing it's workforce at the plant, then it shouldn't really be seen as very surprising that this has happened. Abrupt? Sure, but these things tend to be.

As for Winston-Salem getting back its incentive money I heard an interview on WXII this morning in which the Dell rep said that the incentives were based on job creation and the Dell had met those conditions, so maybe Dell is planning on fighting the return of those incentive dollars.

In addition to my points in that comment I'd also like to put forward the following thoughts:

  • I remain convinced that subsidies stink. I also remain convinced that if subsidies are a part of the economic development competition between states then state and local officials are pretty much forced to use them. 
  • Hopefully Mayor Joines is right when he says "The city, the county and the community will get reimbursed every dollar we put into the project." What worries me is that Dell might go to court to fight the reimbursements. Even if Dell is wrong they probably have less to lose in taking the issue to court and working for a settlement than they do in ponying up the reimbursements without a fight.
  • Even if we get our money back we still have over 900 people being added to the unemployment rolls by January. That's a heck of a hit for an already overburdened unemployment system, not to mention a potentially chatastrophic impact on the employees.
  • Some leaders have pointed out that the silver lining here is that we have a relatively new manufacturing facility that can now be marketed to another company. I guess that's a good long term view, but short term I wouldn't hold my breath. From the Fed's September 9 Beige Book report for the fifth district, which includes North Carolina:

    "Vacancy rates climbed higher across office, industrial, and retail space in most District markets, while the amount of available office sublease space remained fairly steady since our last report. On the sales side, very little activity was reported in recent weeks."

    Maybe we can re-purpose it as a fabulous new indoor soccer park.

  • I've read some comments on other blogs and news stories that essentially say, "Hindsight is 20/20" or "It's easy to criticize the deal now, but no one could have known this was going to happen at the time the deal was struck." Those folks are right, and at this point I don't think it's appropriate to criticize the folks who put the deal together. I truly believe they were doing what they thought was best for the community and given that incentives are a tool that most state and local governments are using to attract business it's hard to criticize them for trying to compete. (We could argue that the price tag was too high, but that horse is out of the barn).  What we should be focusing on is how we protect ourselves in the future. Winston-Salem is in the unfortunate position of having two deals (the downtown baseball stadium and Dell) go squirrelly on them in very short order and I think it's clear that we have to go into these deals with eyes wide open and assume that the worst can happen.
  • Any which way you slice it, this situation stinks.

About Those Incentives

News that cannot possibly be a surprise to anyone who's been conscious for the last 18 months:

Dell Inc. announced today that it will close its plant in Forsyth County by the end of January, cutting 905 jobs overall, including 600 in November.

Just in time for the holidays.  Nice.