Move to Cary?

J. Al Baldwin had an interesting letter in the CH News yesterday --


However, I think he has a couple of points very wrong (and the N&O doesn't allow comments on CHNews stories, so you get my thoughts here. Sorry).

 1)  We're not going back to the "village" that CH was 30 years ago.  While I remember that as a lovely place, the growth of the University and the quality of the schools has caused growth.  The question now is how we change to handle that growth, not how do we stay the same as we were 30 years ago (actually, 33 for me).

 2) One of the things I value the most about living in CH instead of "Cary" is the diversity.  Not just racially, but hopefully economically as well.  I think we are a "richer" community when kids from all walks of life interact, when you can have breakfast at Ye Ol' with all sorts, when the guy you hug after a big UNC win can be either a doctor or the cleaning guy at the hospital.  My sister in law lives in Cary, and you certainly don't see that there.  However, one of the reasons this is threatened in CH is our tax structure (yes, there are others).   It wouldn't hurt that CostCo would bring reasonable wage jobs and cheaper wares to town as well.   All of those things are inhibitors to keeping the diverse CH that I love.  


I have yet to hear an argument that makes sense for why we should discourage CostCo from locating here.  The environment benefits (from fewer trips to Raleigh/Durham/Cary), our jobs benefit, our cost of doing business benefits, our taxes benefit.   The harm is some "image" thing which IMHO is a misplaced value.  Value the things that really make a difference -- our people.  And support continued diversity  in who can be our neighbors.




I find the original article a little offensive.  My family really loves Chapel Hill.  We love the lack of development.  But we're a family of four living on a public servant's salary, and we're in Chapel Hill by the skin of our teeth. I try to spend as much of my money locally as I can, but my budget simply forces me to make use of national chains.  If I have to go to Durham, so be it, but I shop those stores out of necessity, not convenience.  I hate shopping a Wal-Mart, but sometimes that's the price I pay to be part of this great community.It looks like Orange is going to have to compromise.   We don't want our homes reassessed.  We don't want a transfer tax. We don't want national chains. We don't want development.  We don't want residents spending money in Durham and Alamance.  We don't want higher sales taxes.  If we really do love our county, we'd better find a way to fund it.

That letter is why some peoplle dislike CH/C.  Smugness virtually drips off the letter.  He not only implies moral superiority, he actually states it.  Yeah, people that like bargains are morally inferior.  How broad-minded of him. It's attitudes like that that send our tax money to neighboring counties even though building the stores right on our side of the border instead of right on the other side of the border would have almost the same practical effect.  But then again the word "practical" isn't in the dictionary of people driven ideology and dogma. I hope they build the world's biggest Costco next door to that guy's house.  Or barring that, a sensitivity school where he can go and perhaps learn that people that have different opinions than him aren't automatically immoral.

My initial reaction is Costco doesn't sound like something you'd expect to find in Chapel Hill. On the other hand I think Molly has a good point on keeping the money from flowing out of the town and out of the county with the nearby Durham Wal-Mart & Target. And the old Volvo dealership sounds like a great place, if one has to be put somewhere, if for no other reason than to fill up a big vacant lot on that entrance to Chapel Hill.I mean besides downtown there isn't a lot of open area that is zoned for businesses other than the u-mall/eastgate/rams plaza general area, and its on the edge of town nearest those durham mega-marts so hopefully it'd operate more like a "plug" on a leak of traffic to Durham rather than pulling business away from downtown.Given Wal-Marts horrible history, and Targets recent questionable history [referencing their recent anti-gay, anti-worker political donations], it might be nice to support a store like Costco with a 100% rating from the HRCs last buyers guide. Overall my initial thoughts are mixed, but I could be sold on it.

That was a post of mine of a facebook which is the only place I've written any thoughts on it until now.  I think to do it right would involve public hearings, and direction from the council on how to make it happen so that it best fits with our values.  From what I've heard from Senator Kinnaird on WCHL they seem to pay their employees a fair wage (& health coverage) too which is important, but I'm not as convinced yet about her claim that it wont be competing with local businesses.  Overall I don't have a firm opinion one way or the other yet, but I think a lot of public input is important either way it goes.Costco seems to have developed a positive reputation online at least:

 How Costco Became the Anti-Wal-Mart ...But not everyone is happy with Costco's business strategy. Some Wall
Street analysts assert that Mr. Sinegal is overly generous not only to
Costco's customers but to its workers as well. Costco's average pay, for example, is $17 an hour, 42 percent higher than its fiercest
rival, Sam's Club. And Costco's health plan makes those at many other
retailers look Scroogish. One analyst, Bill Dreher of Deutsche Bank, complained last year that at Costco "it's better to be an employee or a customer than a shareholder." Mr. Sinegal begs to differ. He rejects Wall Street's assumption that to
succeed in discount retailing, companies must pay poorly and skimp on
benefits, or must ratchet up prices to meet Wall Street's profit demands.Good wages and benefits are why Costco has extremely low rates of turnover and theft by employees, he said.

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