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Somewhat civil war?


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Since a lot of forumers are from North Carlina and New England I thiought there might be a lot of interest in this story of comparisons and competitions between the two areas............

A somewhat civil war

New Englanders, Tarheels face off on many fronts

By Chris Reidy, Globe Staff, 1/23/2004

Forget the Panthers and the Patriots. Forget John Kerry and John Edwards. The real competition between New England and North Carolina may not be in football and politics, but in business, biotechnology, and banking.

That the Carolina Panthers are in the Super Bowl and US Senator John Edwards is riding high in the presidential campaign are two more signs that North Carolina is emphatically in the big leagues -- and competing with New England on many fronts.

Not that anyone in Boston's financial-services industry needs reminding. With the expected acquisition of FleetBoston Financial Corp., Bank of America Corp. of Charlotte could become the third-largest bank in the country. It already has its name on the stadium where the Panthers play, and it could also have its name on the FleetCenter, home of the Bruins and Celtics.

The two regions don't just compete in financial services; there's also a bake-off of sorts when it comes to hand-held breakfast cuisine. Astounding as it seems, some gourmets claim that the most sublime of doughnut experiences is provided by North Carolina-based Krispy Kreme and not by homegrown Dunkin' Donuts. And what Krispy Kreme is to doughnuts, the North Carolina Fraser fir is to Christmas trees; thanks to a longer growing season, a Fraser is superior to anything chopped down by a New England lumberjack -- or so boosters of the Tarheel State claim.

As these data points suggest, New Englanders accustomed to looking to the West Coast for competitive threats must now look south -- as hockey fans did in 1997 when the Hartford Whalers became the Carolina Hurricanes.

The Whalers weren't the first regional entity to leave home. During the 19th century, New England dominated the textile industry. But many mills moved south. Could history repeat itself with big chunks of the Bay State's innovation economy also deciding to relocate? That's a possibility. Billing itself as "the state of minds," North Carolina seems to harbor ambitions of eclipsing Massachusetts as the East Coast's answer to Silicon Valley.

Evidence can be seen in recent ads by a North Carolina trade group urging Massachusetts biotech companies to think about a change of scenery. The sales pitch: With its "Research Triangle" (encompassing Raleigh, Durham, and Chapel Hill) and such well regarded schools as Duke University, the University of North Carolina, and North Carolina State, the state has emerged as an ideal incubator of innovation. Among the attributes it promotes are an abundance of brainpower, lower land and labor costs, affordable housing, and a state government with a can-do attitude.

Such a concentration of assets might add up to what Harvard Business School professor Michael E. Porter calls a "cluster," a location with a critical mass of related businesses, schools, and institutions that forms a favorable environment for a specific industry.

The Tarheel threat hasn't gone unnoticed by Governor Mitt Romney. In a fall speech, he noted that a biotech plant can be built in North Carolina in half the time it takes in Massachusetts. That must change, he said, promising initiatives to make that happen.

One of the Bay State's greatest vulnerabilities may be its high housing costs, which makes many workers with young families receptive to moving out of the state. And comparatively low-cost housing is one reason companies find Tarheel territory so attractive. Also, Site Selection magazine has picked North Carolina as the state with the country's best business climate for three years running.

Sean Witty is the kind of person Massachusetts had hoped would stick around.

After graduating from Harvard Business School in 2000, he assumed he would stay in the Boston area. Either that, or move to California. Instead, he took a job as a product marketing manager at the Raleigh, N.C., headquarters of Red Hat Inc., a developer and provider of open-source software and services, including the Red Hat Linux operating system.

"The work is compelling," said Witty, 30, giving his primary reason for his move, but he added, "North Carolina has an impeccable quality of life."

For the most part, his present lifestyle compares favorably with what he had in Cambridge.

"If you love eating in trendy restaurants or going to the latest clubs, you're not going to like Raleigh," he said.

But if you like weekend trips to the mountains or the beach, or golfing in shorts in November, and if you're not keen on stressful commutes or stalking the elusive parking space, then Raleigh scores high, Witty said. When he lived in Cambridge, the rent on his 850-square-foot apartment was $1,400 a month. That's roughly his mortgage payment on a house he bought with twice the space and a two-car garage. Better yet, his house is near a greenway that has bike paths and jogging trails weaving through the city.

"After living in Raleigh for 3 1/2 years, I'm not in a hurry to leave," Witty said.

Massachusetts hopes that its local biotech firms are in no hurry to leave either and that they will resist relocation entreaties, not just from North Carolina, but from Virginia, Texas, and Florida -- other Southern states that also covet the intellectual capital that local universities such as Harvard and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology churn out.

"What we have to do in Massachusetts is to keep what we already have," said senior vice president Scott Sarazen of MassDevelopment, a quasi-public agency. "Our goal is retention first."

In its competition with North Carolina, Massachusetts still has many advantages.

"No one has the breadth and depth of intellectual capital of Massachusetts," Sarazen said. "The intellectual capital is here, and if you're a CEO, it's all about capital, capital, capital. What we have is an incredible innovation economy, one of the best in the country and the world. Great products come out of our laboratories. We have the companies that everyone else wants."

Samuel Taylor would heartily agree with the last part of that statement, and he's already doing something about it. He's an executive vice president with the North Carolina Biosciences Organization, the trade group that took out recent newspaper ads urging Hub biotech firms to move south and augment the biotech presence North Carolina already has.

Referring to Massachusetts, Taylor said, "We want what you have, and we're prepared to invest in it."

Besides head-to-head competition, one other possibility is that the two states continue to coexist and feed off each other.

Red Hat, for example, is hedging its bets, opening an office in Massachusetts to complement its North Carolina headquarters, in part to get access to MIT talent.

Said Matthew J. Szulik, the Massachusetts native who is Red Hat's chairman and chief executive, "We've placed bets on both red and black."

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I hate Krispy Kreme doughnuts. The chain is new to Michigan, and I can't say that I'm impressed. I grew up with cake-like doughnuts. So I guess I'd have to say Dunkin Doughnuts. Although the locally owned doughnut shop that I drive by every day to school has the best doughnuts, IMO.

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I think the article summed itself up when the guy that moved to Raleigh basically said: "If you like trendy restaurants, lots of nightlife, don't come here. I'm looking for a bigger parking spot and trips to the beach on the weekend."

That's really the essence of it - people who move down here like a slow, suburban styled life.

It really is to each his own.

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That quote makes Bostons nightlife sound like the French Quarters' :D This is the city where bars close at 2am.

People are crazy about coffee around here so KK hasn't opened a ton of shops because DD's coffee is an unbeatable value. Though KK's donuts are considered so superior that people were driving down to Foxwoods Casino in Conn to visit the closest KK before they just opened one in Medford, MA.

It's good to see that DD's are all over the country now because not too many years ago it was almost impossible to get a good cup of coffee south of..say... Warwick, RI. Go down south then and ask for a cup of tea and you'd get ice cubes in it. ;)

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I am so glad that Boston restaurant have joined the rest of the county and serve bottomless glasses of ice tea.

I don't care about coffee, but everyone I know swears by DD as they down another 64 oz super espresso.

Bars closing at 2AM is pain but I have learned that it is actually later than many cities. In a way, its amazing this hasn't been pushed back after all the complaining and even the mayor trying to get later hous in some districts.

NE has really nice beaches and golf course so no real advantage there.

NC has mild winters, their biggest advantage

NC has lower costs, a big advantage

NC has hot summers, not an advantage

NC does not offer the level of urbanity Boston does, an advantage or disadvantage depending on your point of view.

NE has a larger biotech/high tech industry. A side effect is higher paying jobs, highre taxes, higher housing prices. Be careful what you wish for.....

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If you see a trend of corporations and the executives' preferences, you see a clear trend. Those who prefer a suburbanized lifestyle and put low taxes above living issues such as clubs, events, things to do for their place to do business in - they end up in places like Raleigh, Nashville, etc.

People who enjoy working in a place like Raleigh are people who love the slow paced suburban lifestyle and don't get out often.

There is a clear difference in urban-minded lifestyles: those who don't want to go far for fun/action/events and can live without a car. Then you have the suburban lifestyle where you must drive an hour, or several hours, every time you want to do something fun. They want the sprawled style - not just sprawl, but exurbia styled sprawl. The majority of new developments in cities like Raleigh, Atlanta, Nashville are super sprawled ultra low density far-from-urban center lifestyles. This is the synonym for growth - towers in the downtown area are just the exceptions that happen here and then - and in Raleigh's case almost never unfortunately.

But I think you guys get the point.. Its about the attitudes and personal preferences of the corporate execs as to where to put their business; and as far as the individual to follow the companies that match their tastes.

And right now, its still suburbia in the south, only we don't have very many urban centers to compliment the suburbia.

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A lot of the industries that are in Boston are their in part to attract young talent. For just the reasons you described, they are not in the south. The young talent the high-tech industry is looking to attract wants the hustle and bustle and the excitement of city life. Even for suburban headquarters, their travel time to Boston and Cambridge is a big part of their recruiting effort. And some companies are now leaving the suburban office parks and paying the price to relocate in Boston and Cambridge. It raises the cost of doing business, but gives companies an edge in attracting young talent.

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