The announcement that the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC), after evaluating having its headquarters in Greensboro, is now evaluating other cities as possible headquarter sites is an opportunity for Greensboro.
The opportunity lies not in Greensboro leaders seeing if they can convince the ACC that the headquarters is really important to Greensboro or that history and nostalgia are more important than convenience and profit.
The opportunity is for the leaders of Greensboro to take a hard and honest look at why, after being in Greensboro since 1953, the ACC would consider leaving.
In other words, it could be considered a wakeup call to Greensboro. Although it is widely agreed that Greensboro is a great place to live, while companies are moving by the busload to North Carolina, they aren’t moving to Greensboro.
Two of Greensboro’s recent economic development wins involved, not bringing in new employers and jobs, but paying companies that were already here not to leave.
So why is it that Greensboro is growing slower than the state as whole and much slower than other urban areas?
Mayor Nancy Vaughan once, when speaking in favor of economic development, said that she “didn’t want to be mayor of the fifth largest city in North Carolina.”
However, extrapolating from the Census figures, if Vaughan is reelected mayor next year, she will most likely go from being the mayor of the third largest city in the state to mayor of the fourth largest city in the state. Since 2010, Durham has grown by 21.4 percent while Greensboro has grown by 10.8 percent. And the announcements of companies moving to Durham and bringing new jobs keep coming.
Growth is all around Greensboro, but not in Greensboro. Why is that?
Developers who operate across the state, off the record, say that Greensboro is the most difficult place in the state to do business. If that isn’t true, why has Greensboro developed that reputation, and what can be done about it?
Maybe there is a reason that Amazon and FedEx located their operations in the tiny sliver of Guilford County that is in Kernersville rather than the massive amount of Guilford County that is in Greensboro.
Greensboro does have the highest property tax rate of any comparable city in the state. Members of the City Council say that doesn’t affect economic development, but maybe it does, and the City Council spends so little time and effort on economic development that councilmembers can hardly be considered experts.
From the cheap seats, it appears Greensboro’s economic development efforts are largely focused on the Greensboro-Randolph megasite, which is located entirely in Randolph County. For years, the word has been that a major announcement about the megasite is just over the horizon.
Maybe this time it’s true and there will be an announcement before Halloween that the largest automobile manufacturing plant in the world is starting construction on its new facility immediately.
But maybe it will be another two years or five years before the site is occupied. Can Greensboro afford to wait?
Perhaps none of those observations are a problem, but something is preventing Greensboro from developing and growing like other cities in North Carolina.
Whether the ACC leaves Greensboro or not, the fact that the ACC is considering leaving should have set off an alarm. Greensboro can hit the snooze button and go back to sleep like it did when VF announced it was leaving or it can jump out of bed figure out what is wrong and fix it.
John…an excellent article with numerous observations. With the current crop of folks on county and city councils, don’t set your expectations to high as these people are more concerned getting grant and tax dollars for their “other” job.
Greensboro appears to still be stuck in the 60’s with both councils mode of operation. Taxes continue to be high compared to other cities but when the 60’s mentality still exist, nothing will get better. Companies obviously see what our “leaders” refuse to address.
We can continue going down this road with the same results. Suggest you think about your vote when the time rolls around. Make it count.
You can thank your elected dumocrats for losing on jobs and new businesses. People like the awesome Skip and Nancy just want power to tell people to wear a mask. They don’t care about growth, just lining their pockets.
ACC headquarters is as good as gone and you know it is.
We no longer have people with business experience on the Greensboro City Council. The current council is too busy with inane discussions of minority contractors or which one of the members will be getting grants for their special non-profits to take up critical economic development issues. If we do not take the opportunity to get some new, qualified people on council, Greensboro will continue to drop in its position of cities in the state.
John, your comments hit the nail on the head.
Cities are lucky if they can succeed with one or two top priorities and only if they work on them very hard. Greensboro has not made economic development for private enterprises the number one objective and it shows.
Young people continue to flock to Charlotte, Raleigh, Durham, Cary & Wilmington for jobs and new companies follow them looking for talent. Greensboro continues to fall behind and that does not bode well for the future.
The ACC leaving for a more vibrant and growing location is a foregone conclusion.
Great article and you have got it right…. Guilford County is blind to the real facts. They want to run things with their heads in the sand. If they don’t wake up soon, nobody or no business will stay here. In fact I’m ready to move out of this county myself even though I have been here my entire life.
We shouldn’t have to beg or pay people or businesses to come here or stay here. There was a time when they wanted to be here, but no longer. Greensboro and Guilford County governments are known for being interested in keeping racial issues at the forefront of every decision and topic that comes before them. Until there are more people on the Board and Council who care about the City and County and people instead of making a name for themselves the decline in political, financial, economic, legal, social, educational, and cultural relationships won’t change locally.
The problem. We don’t have aggressive leadership in government and in the business community. Sometimes you just have to take bold and risky steps instead of saying “its just not feasible in Greensboro” or “we can’t get this project to pencil out”. The city has done a great job with new amenities across the city and particularly downtown but we have ignored the root of the problem. We need to figure out how we can get thousands of high paying WHITE COLLAR jobs into this city. Maybe then PTI can become a bustling airport hub with direct flights to almost every major city in this country along with international flights. We need to become a BUSINESS hub, not a shipping hub. Part of it relies on getting the community at large exciting about change and economic growth in the community. A sense of pride. Lower taxes and less red government tape is a start but in order to gain these white collar jobs we have to nurture the white collar jobs we already have. What are Greensboro’s strengths in this sector? Greensboro does have a cluster in the insurance/financial sector. Decades ago we were dubbed “The Hartford of the South” because of the number of insurance companies here. Jefferson Standard Life led to the construction of one of the tallest buildings in the south back in 1923. Greensboro was on its way back then. Some how this city has lost its mojo and now we are eating Charlotte and Raleigh’s dust. The city should make a goal to become the largest insurance/financial hub in the Southeast and figure out how to achieve that goal. Charlotte did that with banking. Policy changes that would make Greensboro more business friendly is a start but we have to dream BIG as a community.
Great article and commentary. But the ACC threatened this crap over the Bathroom bill hysteria that has finally passed. Seems most people forgot about that govt created Boogeyman. I say ACC go away and quit hoovering up my tax monies!