Transcend Business Leakage with a new CDC

Our local governments should partner with smart people in the creation of a new private community development corporation for all of Orange County. (aka Orange CDC) This CDC's main mission would be to assist and fund new for-profit and not-for-profit organizations in business sectors traditionally not supported by our local governments. Such as web and green technology. Why these sectors? Because they are high growth, create high paying jobs, and support companies that pay big commercial office rents. Another one of the Orange CDC's primary goals would be to TRANSCEND business leakage from the county. Not to stop leakage but to benefit from it when it does happen.

The Orange CDC would accept money from Local, State, and Federal government as well as private organizations and individuals. Then the CDC would invest in new businesses in exchange for equity. Currently our local governments have small loan programs that do debt financing for local business. We must use more financial instruments to boost our economy.

Why create yet another organization? Why can't current economic development departments do this? Because local government can not legally accept equity in exchange for cash in North Carolina. They do own stock donated to them though.

So when businesses out grow the resources in Orange County and move we still own part of them. For example: If this organization existed when Quintiles was in the county and we invested in them we'd have some very valuable stock right now. Those shares could be used in many ways to benefit all citizens.

The capital that the Orange CDC gathered would be used to perform tasks that the greater community needs. It could help offset the cost of projects that local governments couldn't afford or did not have the resources to complete. Another part of this Orange CDC could be a incubator/accelerator for businesses. That would support business from idea to IPO. (Inital Public Offering)



I was talking about the "idea to IPO" life cycle when on Carrboro's
local living economy task force and was shouted down by a Michael Shuman
acolyte who thoughty publicly traded companies are "bad". Yes,
apparently, even when locally grown. I explained that this was a pretty
hostile position that wouldn't help our local economy because no
self-respecting entrepreneur with an IPO for an exit strategy would
consider that a welcoming stance. I got more pushback than she did. This
is a disappointing sentiment that is all-too pervasive in our community.
I totally agree with what you're saying. And I just hope the right people
are listening.

I've heard this too. The thing is the values of a local living economy and publicly traded companies do not have to conflict fundamentally. Many social entrepreneurs and businesses are proving this. Plus a lot of personal wealth that is used in awesome ways here in Carrboro and Chapel Hill was earned from private and public companies.

It is not so much that publicly traded companies are "bad",but that, by definition, they are no longer locally owned.

What is true, is that there is a huge need for a variety of financial instruments for small busineses that is not currently available to them. This is one of the less well known but most dynamic and important facets of the local economy movement.

I've received a lot of feedback on this post. Many people would like to see a private organization provide the services described above. NOT local government.

Since becoming a business person involved in supporting entrepreneurs I've had a lot of conversations with folks starting up. Both people here in Orange County and in other parts of the Triangle. Overwhelmingly they do not feel our local government supports business. (You aren't shocked are you....) Both liberals and conservatives feel this way for one reason or another. The reputation of Orange County when it comes to business is bad.

I see this as a one sided view. The approach Chapel Hill, Carrboro, and Orange County is taking towards economic development is changing for the better. Its slow but I've seen it.

So how should our local elected officials respond to this? They should work very hard communicating their new intentions with economic development. A serious long term public relations campaign is needed. Pronto.

Personally, I would second those who suggest this is NOT an appropriate function for local governments. It seems to pose both conflict of interest and qualification issues. I'm not excited about the idea of government taking equity stakes in companies they are required to tax and regulate. Furthermore, I'm not sure how local government is qualified to choose these stakes to begin with.If we're interested as a county in understanding why we have a bad reputation for business, it's probably wise to look at what we are doing before we look at what we're not doing. As a partner in a business that was once located in Orange County, I can say that our interactions with the county were both rare and generally positive, though the same cannot be said for the city of Chapel Hill.

While there are many strong arguments to be made that the County is not supportive of business, there are many strong arguments that the County is also doing what it can to honor & protect the citizens of the county who have to deal with the effects of decisons to allow businesses to do what they want. We need to get into the details and beyond the two dimensional rhetoric that we continually react to. 

Will you at least concede that it is monumentally dumb to continually let businesses that many people want to shop at be built right on the other side of the county border so that the practical effect on OC is virtually the same as it would be had they been built on our side of the border while at the same time all the tax revenues go to the neighboring county?  (My hopes aren't up.)


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