May 23, 2016 4 Comments
Great Op-Ed from good friend and dedicated Fully Myelinated reader, Damon Circosta, in the N&O today about the damage to North Carolina’s brand the current Republican government is responsible for. Think states don’t have a brand? Just ask yourself what you first think when you hear Alabama or Mississippi and if you’d ever want to move there. Compare that to California. This stuff matters. Damon:
Set aside for a moment the economic damage. Pretend for a second that thousands of our residents are not being made to feel unwelcome in their own state. In addition to all of the tangible, immediate problems with HB2, we are jeopardizing something more ethereal. The North Carolina “brand” is in peril. When the brand is tarnished, it can take a long time to repair, if it can be repaired at all.
We might not like to think about our brand. When our state’s motto is “to be, rather than to seem,” talking about appearances can feel shallow. But for generations, North Carolina cultivated the notion that we were the exceptional Southern state. We attracted good people and enterprise through a combination of investments in our schools, respect of others and a disposition toward kindness and reason. Our brand helped attract a mix of people who have driven our state and our economy forward. They brought their talents, their families and their resources and now call this place home. I am proud to be one of them.
A study out of the North Carolina Budget and Tax Center says that the potential loss of federal funds in North Carolina could result in $2.4 billion in wages and 53,000 jobs. While those numbers seem staggering, they pale in comparison to the loss of brand equity HB2 is causing. We might be able to quantify job losses when organizations like PayPal and Deutsche Bank announce their plans to disinvest in North Carolina. We never will be able to calculate how much we lose when North Carolina gets crossed off the list in some corporate site selection meeting or the next great tech startup chooses to start elsewhere.
We won’t know of the untold thousands of people who wanted to come here to learn or invent or innovate until they heard about North Carolina’s intolerant ways.
Sadly… yes! The Republican “leadership” is doing the kind of intellectual damage to our state that can potentially take decades to overcome. There is a huge advantage to being thought of as the good Carolina. Our good brand has affected the state in all sorts of ways, big and small, that provide a more vibrant economy and make it a better place to live. Hopefully some sanity can prevail before even more damage is done.