The news picked up on the latest Pew Research Center study stating how income inequality has increased tensions here in America.Nowhere has this inequality grown greater than in my hometown of Greensboro. Yes Weekly has a great spread on how our poverty zone has extended far beyond it’s original barriers and how old money neighborhoods have gotten richer. It also talks about how the loss of textile, tobacco and furniture jobs have killed our middle class, much like in Detroit where automakers have cut back.
With a neighborhood getting rejected for grocery again (thankfully these guys aren’t leaving), it leaves me to wonder what will it take to get our community back. Here are are four things I think we need:
Continue Building Our Public School System and Universities– We are graduating more students our of our public school system than ever before, thanks to a push to diversify education opportunities and drive students to subjects that interest them and provide job opportunities. The Gateway University Research Park will also provide opportunities for undergraduate and graduate level students. Yet, just making sure we look to our own universities first before we go outside to find labor is also needed. We should also be willing to train and not afraid of losing a competitive advantage.
Encourage Quirky Businesses Downtown and Wherever Else They Fit– Our downtown is growing, not from the chain stores that still will not locate there, but from people who have built successful online and co-businesses. However, if the community keeps looking down at these businesses or if people from outside still think we don’t have quirk and hipness in our business climate, they will stay away.
Flesh out the 2025 Comprehensive Plan– The YES article cites the need for East Greensboro to get proper infrastructure, which is identified as a priority area in this plan. We still have a AAA bond rating. Forget the folks who hate borrowing. Water and sewer will pay our bills if it’s for the right kinds of projects.
Start and Stay Small With Our Businesses and Organizations– I think everyone’s looking for someone big to fill our holes, whether it’s the big grocery chain, a big manufacturing plant or a big tech company. Yet, these big companies have large profit margins that require them to go where major markets are, not where they need to be. If we continue to work on bringing farmers markets, small tech firms and other enterprises that are small on purpose, but numerous, then we will have more legal options and more well paying options for people to work. I love this business venture, Fork in the Road, which uses temporary farmers markets, food trucks neighborhoods and meal planning classes to help communities eat better. Also, residents have the opportunity to operate their own food truck and take a cut of the profits. Theft and overhead costs are reduced by not trying to maintain major storefronts.
There are many more solutions, but there are in fact solutions to many of our community problems. While there will still be challenges, we have hit the bottom. We have no where else to go but up.
Image Credit: Mark Millerunder a
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