(WGHP) — Let’s put it in baseball terms.
Imagine that you can’t get a hit for a week straight. You strike out in two-thirds of your at-bats. Then you start getting your bat on the ball, but every one you hit seems to go right at a fielder. Maybe the good ones go to the warning track but are easily run down. You just can’t seem to get a hit.
Then one day, it all seems to come together, and everything you hit is going out of the park. Triad-area economic developers feel like that’s been their story over the last two decades. After years of hemorrhaging jobs as the textile, furniture and tobacco industries either went overseas or fell out of favor, the Triad had four huge wins in a row: Wolfspeed Semiconductors, Toyota Batteries, Vinfast SUVs and Siemens Train Cars.
“The timing of all those things coming within about a 15-month period is incredible,” said Mike Fox, president of the Piedmont Triad Partnership. “One or two of those announcements in that time frame would be spectacular. One would be great. Four is hitting a grand slam home run.”
“We have gone from Greensboro Boring to Greensboro Booming at a record pace,” said UNC Greensboro professor Keith Debbage.
For almost all of the last decade and a half, Debbage wrote the State of the City report for Greensboro. it’s a report that wasn’t always looked upon as flattering, but Debbage’s job was to tell the truth and not lay out hopes and dreams.
“I’m a professor. I’m not prone to boosterism and hype, but I do see that we’re not going to be Tournament Town. We’re going to be E-V Town,” said Debbage, referring to the way Greensboro has marketed itself recently vs. becoming a hub of electronic transportation.
And there’s a lot to celebrate about these new jobs.
“The wage rates are phenomenal: between $65,000 and $95,000 on average compared to an average wage rate in our market of $40,000,” Debbage said. “I do believe it can be transformational.”
Part of the transformation will be the importation of talent to fill the 20,000-plus jobs these new companies will bring. But Fox says the Piedmont Triad Partnership is also focusing on keeping the immense amount of talent that local colleges and universities bring to the area each year.
“I call it let everyone else in on the secret of what a great place this is to live – cost of living, available jobs, a variety of choices of housing,” Fox said. “We’re an hour or so from the mountains, hours from the beach. You got great things to do in this area. We don’t want that to be a secret from anybody.”
Fox’s predecessor Stan Kelly did a lot of the work to help bring these companies to the Triad, but so did many others.
“It’s two decades’ worth of effort on many of these (new business) sites. Many of those efforts by private individuals who had faith that they were going to do something big for their community,” Fox said.
See how these economic wins can transform the region in this edition of The Buckley Report.