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« Forgiveness | Main | GSO then and now »

Jun 19, 2006


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Jerry Bledsoe


Why doesn't this prominent business leader, one of the toughest and smartest, come forward?

I'm sure I wouldn't be the only one who is curious to know how 11/3/79 had a major effect on Greensboro's decline over the past generation.

Perhaps he could make a contribution to reconciliation and future progress.

Have you encouraged him to do so? Wouldn't that be a big boost to the process?

Or is he just too smart for that?

Ed Cone

You get what you get from people, Jerry. We were talking about something else, he brought up my column, and volunteered his thoughts. Maybe he will want to say more in the future, maybe he won't. Either way, I thought it was interesting.


"the Klan killings have had a major role in the relative decline of Greensboro compared to its NC peers over the last generation."

Should one assume that the above means that Greensboro has been left behind while Charlotte and Raleigh or perhaps other larger NC cities flourished? As I drive through areas such as Grandover I do not see "relative decline". Geez...I guess Koury missed the message about Greensboro's decline.

I for one need a few examples of "major role" as I believe that Greensboro has flourished during the past generation.


"the relative decline"

In what categories?

Compared to....?


Greensboro has declined? I've only lived in Greensboro for 8 years, but it seems to me that the city is doing very well. It's doing a lot better than where I came from, that's for sure. My home town is dying and it has been for many years. Pretty soon there will bo nobody left there. Very sad.

Ed Cone

meblogin, the success of a large project (or several) does not make any meaningful case that GSO is less than it once was relative to other cities in this state.

Bubba, are you serious?

It would be harder to come up with categories in which Greensboro is better-positioned now than a generation ago than to list those in which it has suffered a relative decline.

When I was growing up, Greensboro was the second-largest city in NC, and the hub of manufacturing industry, home to several Fortune 500 companies. Our infrastructure (e.g. coliseum, airport) was outstanding for the region. It was seen as a thriving, progressive city.

Raleigh is now larger, and if you throw in the explosive growth of Cary and surrounding towns, the gap is much wider. Our economy has withered while others have prospered, and the national and regional prominence of the Triangle and Charlotte are higher now relative to GSO than 30 years ago.

Some stats here on population and income.

Note that growth is a mixed blessing, I'm not writing this as a Charlotte/RTP wannabe, or a Greensboro pessimist, just looking at the numbers.

And it does not mean that the guy I quoted was correct about the causes of this change. There are many large forces at work here, including the globalization of the economy and the consolidation of the financial services industry. RTP is important to the story, and that was happening long before 1979.

I do think there is an argument to be made that our weak political leadership has been a factor in our relative decline, and that our negative public attitude and political divisions have hurt us.

I don't know how far I'd go along the direct-cause path suggested by my correspondent. I do know that he knows more about business, and North Carolina, than most people, and I would hesitate to reject out of hand his thoughts on those subjects.

In any case, my primary reason for citing the email was the same as previous mentions of people talking about the TRC report and history -- to show that the "nobody cares, nobody is talking" meme is false.


When people talk about the "growth" of a community, it seems they are talking about buildings. While the amount of development is an important factor, it is not the sole indicator of a community's "growth." Jobs, infrastructure, quality of life and education, services provided to citizens, all are a part of what we could consider a community's "growth."

While we've had our share of development, we have lagged a bit in other areas. I'd much rather use how we're doing in providing jobs and how many (or better still, few) homeless folks we have on our streets as an indicator of Greensboro's growth rather than how many new buildings we've put up.

We've got some good things going on, but we've clearly got some catching up to do. The City Council's support of T&R would have been a good start towards a growth that is more than bricks and mortar. Since that didn't happen, we have to find other ways of making up ground lost to other areas.

But still, I think Greensboro has a great quality of life and I'm glad I live here.

Ed Cone

It's not just buildings, although Greensboro's skyline stasis speaks volumes...also income levels, population, rates of change, business location and relocation, reputation, opportunities, etc.

I love my hometown. I choose to live here. And I see some benefits to having avoided hypergrowth, although I don't know that we've made use of the time we gained to think about smart, green growth...


"Bubba, are you serious?"


You listed tangible measures between areas.

Intangibles count for more than tangibles, and on that basis, Greensboro and the Triad have the other metropolitan areas beat hands down. JW's last sentence speaks to that, and it's the reason I chose to establish roots here 14 years ago.

A non-native's viewpoint sometimes sees the forest as well as the trees.

Ed Cone

I didn't say I would want to live in Charlotte or Raleigh rather than Greensboro; if I wanted to, I would. But Greensboro has declined by several measurable factors, and some qualitative ones, too, versus those cities.


"....and some qualitative ones, too, versus those cities."

Care to elaborate?

Ed Cone

Attractiveness as a place to live and locate a business, sense of vitality, ability to retain and attract young and high-wage workers, optimism.

Not all of this is Greensboro slipping, it's also other places moving ahead -- remember, this is relative decline.

One example: 30 years ago, Greensboro hosted the ACC tourney and (once) the NCAA Final Four, we also had an ABA team...Charlotte had minor league hockey (so did we) and Raleigh had State home games. We still have the tourney, thank god, but last night Raleigh's NHL team won the Stanley Cup, and Charlotte has teams in the NBA and NFL. On and on, the GSO coliseum was THE venue for big concerts in the '70s...now, not so much.

You and I may not care about having a pro sports team, and we may prefer to live in a quieter place...but in terms of being a vibrant hub that attracts new people, GSO is clearly less than it was a generation ago versus the Triangle and Charlotte.


The quality of life in the Triangle and in Charlotte has sufferd more, in my opinion.

Also, Greensboro is an AHL town, and moving the Hurricanes here and screwing the Monarchs and their fans was not Greensboro's fault.

The MLB hype of a few years ago was just that-- a fantasy.

Speaking of the Hurricanes......

Ed Cone

I would agree with you that quality of life, as measured by the factors I value, is less degraded here than in Charlotte, and perhaps Raleigh.

But that does not change the fact that the widespread perception of Greensboro as a leading city in this state, along with irrefutable statistical measures of leadership, have not trended well for us versus those other cities in the last generation.

Think of a CEO who wants to relocate. A generation ago, Greensboro could have offered that person a group of peers, fellow leaders of large companies. Now, not. Think of an ambitious kid from Greensboro who graduates from college or grad school and wants to test herself in the bigtime. In fields like law, finance, business, and technology, Greensboro has much less to offer vis a vis the other cities than it once did.

I grew up on stories (true ones) of Greensboro's boom and prosperity and leadership. I believe those days can come back. But I don't see the point of pretending they never ended.


I beleive the decline angle. The labelling of the Klan shootings makes folks think that a Klan from Greensboro shot black people when in reality only one black person ended up getting shot by klan folk from outside the community.

Greensboro has rebounded, but there will be no better way to resurrect the decline than to continue talking about something that needs to be buried with lime like the rotting corpse of the 78' shooting.

Ed Cone

I guess the disagreement is on how best to lay this thing to rest.

Some people want to chunk it in the clay and forget it ever happened.

Others want a full state funeral and an elaborate mourning ritual.

I can't say I want either one of those.

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