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About ctl

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  1. ctl

    Triangle Economic News

    Actually, Greenville-Spartanburg is doing quite well. Blaming it on the bubbas might be accurate, but it's also an easy way out. Maybe the truth is that the Triangle just isn't as attractive, relatively speaking, as its boosters think. Maybe all the downtown-centric proposals cannot hook the big fish. Maybe the Triangle's government and business communities are incompetent at getting new business. Maybe there were influential people in the Triangle (not bubbas) who never wanted Amazon or Apple in the first place Whatever the reason, it makes RTP's accomplishments in the 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s to bring IBM, Glaxo, Burroughs Wellcome, Nortel, Cisco, etc here even more remarkable. Bubbas were 100% in charge back then, I should add.
  2. Reminds me of the games played in the 1950s and early 1960s when the Interstate routes were being mapped through rural areas. Please, run I-85 over my land and put an interchange there... and someday my heirs will be able to sell more of it for gas stations, restaurants, and hotels. Didn't always work out that way, but it often did.
  3. Yes, the taxpayers' gift to people and companies that owned property along the route. And although property taxes will go up along with the valuations, it's likely that very little tax will ever be paid on capital gains.
  4. ctl

    Cameron Village Developments

    The situation at Bellwood reminds me of the Velvet Cloak. Not apples-to-apples, I recognize.
  5. ctl

    Where should HQ2 go?

    Excellent points, all. Advance Auto HQ is a plus for Raleigh, to be sure. Whether it results in a net increase over the loss of Progress Energy jobs and the likely future loss of Red Hat jobs, we will have to wait and see. I wouldn't call Advance a game-changer, but they're welcome and I haven't heard complaints about the financial inducements. Other than telling us how well (or not) the various groups, committees, and governmental agencies could work together in pursuit of a big fish, I don't know that the Amazon HQ2 outcome has much meaning for the Triangle going forward. Another way of thinking about regression toward the mean: we're all subject to mega-economic factors such as compression of the middle class, reductions in the skilled manufacturing workforce, technological consolidation within IT, and the increase in service jobs that pay less than the median wage. Nor have public-sector wages, in general, kept pace with inflation over the last 15 years. Those factors aren't unique to Raleigh or even to the southeast. Understandably the frustration among some demographics spills out as "make American great again". The more growth there is in the southeast and in the Triangle, the more difficult it becomes for us to have statistics that differ significantly from the statistics of the USA as a whole. We now influence those national statistics directly. Fifty years ago, the southeast did not.
  6. ctl

    Where should HQ2 go?

    The very fact that the graph is almost monotonically decreasing is a hallmark of regression toward the mean. One of the reasons why salaries in RTP were so high: IBM, Nortel, etc transferred a lot of experienced employees here. Many of those employees came from high-cost locations such as IBM in New York. The employees wouldn't take pay cuts when moving to NC, even though the cost of living was much lower here. The companies didn't mind over-paying relative to NC norms because they needed the positions filled with experienced people if the new operations were to succeed. Also, during the 1990s American Airlines closed its crew bases at RDU. Pilots for the major airlines make a lot of money... not the case for pilots who fly commuter jets. Some of American's pilots remained in the Triangle after the closure and deadheaded to their assignments, but retirements and attrition gradually cut their numbers. Don't forget that the payroll of Progress Energy in Raleigh took an enormous hit after Duke took over and concentrated all the important jobs in Charlotte. In contrast, much of the job growth here since 2000 has been locally hired people. That's not to say that everyone hired was already living here; there certainly were employer-paid relocations for new hires, but that's not the same as transferring an employee with 20 years' service to the Triangle. I tend to agree with DanRNC that local and regional leadership has been ineffective. The three big universities are perceived as static over the last 20 years, contributing little to local economic development. The Research Triangle Foundation and Research Triangle Regional Partnership haven't accomplished much, either. In short, everyone is to blame -- and much of the damage was done during a different political climate, so to be fair you can't hang it all on Republican or rural-dominated government. Personally I don't believe mass transit is the barrier. Metro Atlanta has added hundreds of thousands of jobs, many of them high-paying, with a mass-transit system that reaches only a small fraction of the metro. Mass transit has basically failed in Austin, and it's hardly a factor in San Jose/Santa Clara either.
  7. ctl

    Where should HQ2 go?

    Statisticians call that "regression toward the mean". It doesn't surprise me that people who had moved here in the 1980s and 1990s had incomes that were well above the U.S. average. A significant proportion of that growth was located in RTP. Companies like IBM, Nortel, Cisco, and the predecessors of GSK paid very well indeed. Nortel went bankrupt, IBM and GSK have reduced headcount, and Cisco went basically flat on RTP employment after 2005 or so. With all due respect to companies like Red Hat and Citrix, they didn't bring the same percentages of jobs paying $150K and up. Meanwhile the two largest employers in Wake County -- the State and WCPSS -- have seen relatively small wage increases in the last 10 years, particularly.
  8. ctl

    Where should HQ2 go?

    Growth and prosperity aren't identical, that's true. Japan remains very prosperous although their annual growth rate has been stuck below 2% for almost all of the last 25 years. It's still the 3rd largest economy in the world and also the 3rd wealthiest. But at the metro level within the U.S., I think it's fair to say that growth and prosperity are correlated -- not at 99%, but significantly. If you want to see what happened to low-growth metro areas in the south, visit Birmingham or New Orleans or Memphis (despite Fedex). All of them are in economic malaise. Prior to the 1960s, these cities were tier 1 in the south... not anymore, having been surpassed by Nashville, Atlanta, Charlotte, the Triangle, and almost every city in Florida. Even within North Carolina, consider the trajectory of Wilmington, once the most vibrant city in the state, later scruffy and moribund until it began growing after the completion of I-40. Or to put it differently, try telling land owners ITB that their properties would have appreciated in value 3 to 5 times in the last 30 years even if Raleigh and Wake County hadn't grown in population. Equitable distribution of wealth is a different issue.
  9. ctl

    North Hills / Midtown area developments

    Sawmill has curves between Creedmoor and Lead Mine that naturally limit speed. I think Ammons took care that the layout through the subdivisions he was developing didn't turn Sawmill into a racetrack. His combination of senior living, single-family residential, shopping, and institutional (school/church/daycare/swimming) has held up well. Unfortunately the parties that planned Sawmill between Lead Mine and Six Forks were less enlightened. Worse, there was no recognition of the amount of traffic that Mourning Dove would bear, and that led to an eventual street-calming project with dubious design features. And then there is the ridiculous design of the shopping center in the southeast quadrant of Six Forks and Sawmill/Mourning Dove (where Vinnie's is). Don't get me started on that. The only more unfortunate layout in north Raleigh that I can think of is Pleasant Valley Promenade.
  10. ctl

    North Hills / Midtown area developments

    I don't object to what the City did to Hillsborough. I do object that no improvements were made to Wade or Western, which were already overtaxed before they took on more traffic that used to use Hillsborough.
  11. ctl

    North Hills / Midtown area developments

    I live off Creedmoor Rd, and I'm not keen to get a share of the traffic on Six Forks -- especially with the mess at Crabtree Valley Mall, which I doubt will ever get properly fixed. We already know that NC 50 will be four-laned as far north as NC 98, and it's only a matter of time until Granville County sees the kind of building boom that Chatham and Johnston Counties have already seen. In other words, I don't want the City to do to Six Forks what they did to Hillsborough, forcing traffic onto adjacent parallel streets.
  12. ctl

    Where should HQ2 go?

    If the requirement was a functioning heavy rail system (subway or commuter train) in existence from Day One, the search could have been much faster.
  13. ctl

    Where should HQ2 go?

    The recriminations have begun, with one pundit observing that Bezos owns three homes and the average distance between those homes and the new Amazon offices will be 6 miles. Was the competition really a sham? The outcome does allow people to draw that inference. With several decades of experience in large companies, I suspect the process didn't start out as a sham but gradually became Bezos-driven over time. As to whether we have "jumped the shark" on RFPs and incentives, it's too soon to say. Given the outcome I doubt the Triangle could have done anything to win.
  14. ctl


    One fewer in the mix: Icelandair will acquire WOW, which has been struggling financially. The next shoe to drop will be Norwegian
  15. ctl

    Triangle Economic News

    It's difficult to predict the trajectory of Red Hat as a division of IBM. Of course IBM is saying all the obligatory things about the deal; they don't want to spook the Red Hat employees or customer base. Based on many years of watching M&A and what I know of IBM these days, I think in terms of probabilities in five years: 35% that IBM's presence in DTR will be about the same, 15% that the presence will have increased, and 50% that it will have decreased. In situations like this, the most vulnerable people at the acquired company are G&A functionaries (HR, Finance, Legal, IT, etc).