The Greensboro City Council got blasted at the meeting on Tuesday, March 7 for failing miserably at achieving one of the priorities set at the council retreat.

Two Chris Smiths, son and father, spoke about how impossible it was to do business in Greensboro.

The Smiths are from Carolina Signs and Lighting in King, NC. They said they did business all over the state and that Greensboro was the most difficult place to work.

The priority set by the City Council at the retreat in early February was “Easiest place to do business.”

According to the Smiths, Greensboro has a long way to go to accomplish that goal because right now Greensboro is just about the worst place in the state to do business.

City Councilmember Zack Matheny said after the meeting, “It wasn’t anything we hadn’t heard before.”

People have been complaining “off the record” about how hard it is to do business in Greensboro for decades. The difference is that it has gotten to the point that some contractors are willing to go public. There is a huge incentive for contractors not to complain publicly about the inspectors and various other city bureaucrats they have to deal with because, as bad as it may be, those are the same people who could make it much worse.

Smith, the younger, said that in Winston-Salem a permit costs $75 and takes two weeks to get approved, but in Greensboro it cost $150, takes three or four months and then you get turned down.

He said that he regularly tells people not to bring their business to Greensboro because it is so difficult to get anything approved by the city.

Smith, the elder, said, “Everyone in my industry is sick of Greensboro. Nobody wants to fight and go through the process of getting permits.”

Matheny said, “The majority of council agrees with the Smiths and that is what we relayed to the city manager.”

After the Smiths spoke, City Councilmember Yvonne Johnson said, “Mr. Manager I am particularly concerned about what I just heard.”

Councilmember Tammi Thurm noted that the council had discussed this issue at length at the retreat and said to the manager, “We need to hear back and we need to get updates.”

Councilmember Sharon Hightower said, “This ain’t the first time I’ve heard this.  It’s not and we’ve got to do better.”