Given the fact that the world’s economy has been virtually shut down for two months, it’s been difficult for local economic development officials to – well, develop the economy.
However, on Thursday morning, May 28, the leadership team of the Guilford County Economic Development Alliance (GCEDA) held an online meeting to explore where to take things from here.
Despite the sorry current state of the economy, there was some good news at the meeting. GCEDA went into a closed session.
That’s almost always good news because it usually means the group has some prospect for a new business or a new expansion project on the hook. GCEDA officials are always tight-lipped about the closed session conversations, but just the fact that they’re holding a closed session is a positive sign of something in the works.
In open session at the May 28 meeting, the group discussed the way that many local businesses have “pivoted” to meet the new needs created by the pandemic. One High Point company, for instance, went from making bedding to producing protective masks, while another area company, which normally sets ups booths at business conventions – the need for which has been at zero for the last couple of months – began helping hospitals create temporary testing sites.
There were plenty of other examples provided and some of the efforts of local businesses have received widespread media attention.
The demonstrated ability of this area’s manufacturing base to quickly pivot is no doubt something that national companies will find attractive. Also, group members stated, some of this area’s companies that have transitioned to the manufacture of medical supplies, protective gear and other items, are expected to continue making those products as the pandemic abates.
At the meeting there was also a lot of curiosity about a move by the Greensboro Chamber of Commerce to get Tesla to relocate to Guilford County after Elon Musk, the company’s president, announced in anger that the electric vehicle maker was moving its operations out of California.
The chamber decided to use the tiff that Tesla is having with California to promote the Greensboro-Randolph Megasite. Greensboro Chamber of Commerce President Brent Christensen got the idea for the chamber to hire an airplane to fly over the Tesla production facility in Fremont, California pulling a banner that read: “TESLA COME TO NC. WE WANT YOU @GRMEGASITE”.
As of yet, Musk, hasn’t announced plans to relocate to the megasite, however, the flyover got a good deal of attention in the news and on social media, and, at the May 28 meeting, there was agreement among area economic development leaders that the publicity generated will only help Guilford County and the surrounding area in its economic development efforts.