Editorial: We're Number 2! Unfortunately, little to cheer about
Posted November 21, 2016
A CBC Editorial: Monday, Nov.21, 2016; Editorial# 8084
The following is the opinion of Capitol Broadcasting Company
Forbes Magazine says North Carolina is the 2nd “Best State for Business” again. Big whoop!
Been there (in the top five since 2006). Done that. Gov. Pat McCrory’s Commerce Department probably has printed the T-shirts – if they haven’t used up the ones left over from the Mike Easley and Bev Perdue administrations.
What is noteworthy about the listing this year is what Forbes Magazine said about North Carolina’s business climate. Not much. And it is not the stuff for a braggadocious advertising campaign.
-- “Labor costs … are 11% below the national average—fourth lowest in the country.”
The rest of the Forbes’ write-up is about the economic development problems and set-backs over the last year, particularly related to the disastrous misadventure with House Bill 2. A reader could be excused for wondering how our state rated the lofty ranking.
“The measure has already cost the state an estimated $630 million in economic activity. The NBA, ACC and NCAA pulled sporting events from the state and Deutsche Bank and PayPal halted expansions. ‘Some clients are actively staying away from North Carolina because of (HB2),’ says Jeff Lessard, who works with clients on their occupancy and location strategies at Cushman & Wakefield,” according to the magazine.
If damning with faint praise needs a definition, Forbes’ ranking is it.
Rather than self-congratulatory news releases, this ranking should come as a warning to North Carolina’s brand managers. It is another clear sign of how broken our brand is.
A low-skill, low-wage labor force is not the stuff of economic dynamos. The Forbes’ listing didn’t mention a significant economic development win for North Carolina.
The state needs the high-wage jobs of the future and shouldn’t be settling merely for minimum-wage jobs that don’t grow the state’s economy or our middle class.
Funding best-in the nation public schools, restoring support to the state’s world-class research universities, providing an infrastructure that eases commerce and enhances our quality of life. Those are the ingredients for a Number 1 Business Climate ranking. That should be North Carolina’s agenda and goal.