Yesterday, after getting a great night’s rest, I woke up to my go to morning newsletter to find out that Amazon passed up on RDU for HQ2. With 20 finalist locations, Amazon opted to split the wealth between two finalists: Northern VA and Long Island, NY. That’s all well and good but, once again, North Carolina missed out on a major bid. Now, let’s talk about why.
Southern comfort is a thing. No, I’m not talking about the whiskey. I’m talking about the twang when (some) Carolinians talk and our hospitably sweet diabe-tea when you visit. But it’s cool, right? Folks come from up north and think our slower lifestyles and “fast” moving traffic is neat. Well, so do we. In fact, we love it so much that it’s become a hinderance.
According to a poll, only 43% of local citizens strongly supported Amazon HQ2 being located in the Raleigh area. So, you mean to tell me that you’re not in favor of 25,000 new jobs with an average salary of $150,000? Why is that? Sounds crazy to me. No, excuse me. It’s not crazy. It’s fear.
News flash Carolinians: A large number of us are afraid of the 3 C’s. You’ve never heard of them so you don’t know what they are. That’s ok. I just realized it this morning but I’ve known it my entire life (which is why, as much as I love home and will be back, I’m getting the hell out of here for a while so I can be around some less fearful people). The three 3’s are *drumroll* change, commute, and competition.
I’ll start with the most obvious, which is change. In the south, people fear the unknown because, it’s unknown. This is why Georgia gubernatorial candidate Brian Kemp can run an openly racist campaign advertisement saying he’ll take the role of ICE into his own hands and still (almost) win an election. Non-white immigrants represent change and the south likes things slow, steady, and at it’s own pace. This is why they fought so hard to keep slavery, Jim Crow, and mandatory minimums that look like everything they have always known. Change is scary. Amazon represents progress that non-Southerners will bring and that progress will require North Carolinian culture to change. That’s C1.
C2 is the commute. In North Carolina, we like our cars. We like our trucks and our sedans and our sports cars and our nice cars (say it with a thick southern accent and you’ll see where that speedway in Charlotte got its name). Automobiles are status symbols. ‘Round here *Memphis Bleek voice*, we drive by people who stand at bus stops with our noses up in the sky. In more developed cities, that doesn’t happen. I’ve been on the subway in New York and LA and seen A- or B-list celebrities on there too. It’s normal. But, for some reason, N.C. would rather continue fixing our messed up, pothole-filled roads and destroying the atmosphere with gas guzzlers instead of figuring out a sustainable and reliable transit system.
Therefore, you know what another reason of those who weren’t strongly for Amazon being located here is? They say we don’t have the infrastructure to handle it. That’s code for they don’t want to deal with the traffic. I have family members in central NJ who catch a train to NYC daily for work and then back. We’ve been spoiled when it comes to our commutes and now we don’t want to forego that.
C3 is competition. For some reason, we don’t feel like competing with the outside world. We don’t want Amazon flying in their “foreign” (from other states but still American citizens) team to take jobs that North Carolinians should have. What sense does that make? Now the “foreigners” aren’t here and neither are the jobs, which means neither is the growth. When companies like Amazon come to places like Raleigh, multiple industries boom. But, when they over look us, professionals who would’ve come here and started new business go elsewhere. Students who would’ve come to one of the Triangle’s over ten colleges and universities will now look elsewhere to get their education. Homes that should be built by our construction workers are going to be built in Northern VA and on Long Island. When we don’t want to compete, what we’re really saying is that we don’t want to win. We don’t want to be the best. We just want to be left alone to live with our Southern comfort.
Folks, Carolinian or not, take this as a lesson. You don’t want to be like present-day North Carolina. Hopefully, losing this bid isn’t what wakes us up. Let’s be honest with ourselves: we probably would’ve lost to a bigger city either way. What should wake us up is our attitude to even being considered for the bid.
Oh, and since we’re talking about Amazon, go grab my long-time friend Joe‘s new book, #ClosingSZN. It just went live last week. I got mine in the mail from Amazon today (I’m a hardcopy kind of guy but you can get the digital version and dive in right now if you want).
Make embracing the 3 C’s a priority.