A Way Forward

A Way Forward: Building a Globally Competitive South

DANIEL P. GITTERMAN
PETER A. COCLANIS
https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.5149/9780807872895_gitterman
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  • Book Info
    A Way Forward
    Book Description:

    In the last half century, North Carolina and the South have experienced rapid economic growth. Much of the best analysis of this progress came from two North Carolina-based research organizations: the Southern Growth Policies Board and MDC (originally a project of the North Carolina Fund). Their 1986 reports are two of the best assessments of the achievements and limitations of the so-called Sunbelt boom.On November 17, 2011, the Global Research Institute at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and the Institute for Emerging Issues at North Carolina State University co-hosted a public discussion to build on these classic reports and to offer fresh analyses of the current challenges facing the region.A Way Forward, which issued from this effort, features more than thirty original essays containing recommendations and strategies for building and sustaining a globally competitive South.

    eISBN: 978-1-4696-0242-4
    Subjects: Business, History, Sociology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-ii)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. 1-5)
  3. FOREWORD
    (pp. 6-6)
    William B. Harrison Jr.

    A quarter of a century ago, two important and widely accessible reports relating to the future of the U.S. South were released:Halfway Home and a Long Way to Go, issued by the Southern Growth Policies Board’s 1986 Commission on the Future of the South, andShadows in the Sunbelt, issued by MDC’s Panel on Rural Economic Development. Both reports lauded the region’s recent economic accomplishments but focused on the remaining problems and challenges.Halfway Homecalled attention to a broad range of economic development issues, whileShadows in the Sunbelthomed in on the rural sector, wherein growth and...

  4. ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
    (pp. 7-7)
    Daniel P. Gitterman and Peter A. Coclanis
  5. INTRODUCTION: Lessons from the Past and A Way Forward
    (pp. 8-10)
    PETER A. COCLANIS and DANIEL P. GITTERMAN

    In the landmark 1949 study,Southern Politics in State and Nation, distinguished social scientist V. O. Key Jr. wrote that “the prevailing mood in North Carolina is not hard to sense: it is energetic and ambitious. The citizens are determined and confident; they are on the move.” After taking a few swipes at the rest of the South, Key went on to say that North Carolina “enjoys a reputation for progressive outlook and action in many phases of life, especially industrial development, education, and race relations.”

    One can certainly challenge aspects of Key’s characterization of North Carolina—and, indeed, his...

  6. THE SOUTH AND 20TH-CENTURY ECONOMIC HISTORY
    (pp. 12-33)

    Why do people think the economic problems of the American South merit special treatment? It can be argued that they no longer do, that there is no longer anything especially peculiar about the Southern economy. Yet the South has long seen itself and been seen as a distinctive region within the American polity and for that reason has nurtured a long tradition of self-reflection, including economic self-reflection. That tradition has been bolstered by the fact that for most if not all of its existence as a selfconscious region, the South really has been peculiar in its institutions, especially with its...

  7. 25 YEARS LATER: REVISITING HALFWAY HOME AND SHADOWS IN THE SUNBELT / 1986–2011
    (pp. 35-44)

    Much was changing in the economy of the South in the 1980s, but less was understood about it. The decadesold landscape of row-crop agriculture, low-wage branch plant manufacturing, and extractive industries (coal, oil, timber) was fading and with it the pattern of vibrant small towns and a rural fabric of life. The brutal 1982 recession accelerated and highlighted these stresses, and Southern governors at the time were searching for answers. The Southern Growth Policies Board (SGPB) took the lead in providing them.

    The original idea for the SGPB was Terry Sanford’s. The board initially focused on managing the Sunbelt’s burgeoning...

  8. PROVIDING A NATIONALLY COMPETITIVE EDUCATION FOR ALL STUDENTS
    (pp. 46-65)

    As early as the mid-1960s and particularly between 1977 and 1985, systemic educational reform was an integral part of Southern policy and politics. Indeed, a series of South-focused reports set the education reform agenda for the decades ahead.

    Throughout the 1970s, Southern states lagged behind other states in educational funding per capita, educational standards, and teacher competency despite these reports’ and other observers’ recognition of persistent problems with student achievement, poor teacher quality, and teacher shortages. At the time of the first state-level omnibus education reform passage in Mississippi in 1982, every Southern state spent less on education than did...

  9. PREPARING A FLEXIBLE, GLOBALLY COMPETITIVE WORKFORCE
    (pp. 67-77)

    In North Carolina and throughout the South, globalization has increased competition for jobs as workers around the world participate in the constant flow of goods, services, and information. The growth of a global economy can be seen in reduced trade barriers, increased trade, highly mobile capital, and rapid transmission of technology across national lines. Back in 1986, the Commission on the Future of the South set forth the regional objective: “preparing a flexible, ‘globally competitive’ workforce” by 1992. As theHalfway Homereport diagnosed the problem; “A flash-flood of change rushing over the South has left many workers stranded. The...

  10. PUBLIC UNIVERSITIES IN A NEW ECONOMIC ERA
    (pp. 79-94)

    Public and private research universities have been important contributors to the rise in the South’s prosperity in the 20th and 21st centuries, propelling it out of an agrarian economy and making it one of the most dynamic regions of the country in population and job growth over the past 20 years. Yet as we face the challenges of economic constraints, shifting demographics, and worldwide competition, what should we expect of these institutions? The research university has proven to be one of our society’s most durable institutions, and it is reasonable to expect that those in the South will continue their...

  11. INCREASING THE ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT ROLE OF HIGHER EDUCATION
    (pp. 96-107)

    Halfway Home and a Long Way to Gotook a full frontal whack at higher education in the South, stating bluntly that the region “doesn’t get its money’s worth” out of higher education, charging politicians with “adding programs with little regard to cost, merit or duplication,” accusing education administrators of focusing more on growing enrollment than on “increasing quality or relevance of the education and research they administer,” and calling on higher education to align course offerings more closely with workforce demand. The report recommended five areas of focus: deepening linkages between higher and the private sector; increasing remedial education...

  12. INCREASING THE SOUTH’S CAPACITY TO INNOVATE AND IMPLEMENT NEW ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT STRATEGIES
    (pp. 109-129)

    Southern industrialization has long been associated with the practice of industrial recruitment: that is, an attempt by state and local governments to lure business establishments and investment to a region, often with the help of generous incentive offers or subsidies. As noted in MDC’sShadows in the Sunbeltreport, “The Southern strategy for economic development has been simple: Recruit new industry. Industrial recruiters have been able to claim great success as thousands of new plants have located in the South, both in urban and rural areas.” A similar message was echoed inHalfway Home and a Long Way to Go’s...

  13. URBAN, RURAL, AND GREEN
    (pp. 131-146)

    A diverse array of “city-states” flourishes across the landscape of the American South. Among the many ways in which the South—once a land of small-farm, rowcrop agriculture, small-town mills, and legalized racial segregation—has converged with the nation over the past quarter of a century, the burgeoning of megametropolitan regions stands out.

    To call them city-states is not to suggest that they are independent political units of the classic Greek and Roman models. Rather, it is to signify their emergence as powerful economic and cultural organisms that sprawl across old city, county, and even state lines. The future of...

  14. WORK, THE SAFETY NET, AND FAITH
    (pp. 148-157)

    Work in North Carolina and other Southern states has undergone a marked transformation in the past several decades, and social, political, and economic forces have made the quality of jobs problematic. The notion of job quality, or a “good job,” communicates that workers are concerned about the nature of their work, not just whether they have a job. Concerns about job quality have been overshadowed in recent years by the fact that many Southerners have no jobs at all as a consequence of the Great Recession and its aftermath. Nevertheless, the quality of available jobs has been a continuing source...

  15. A CHANGING SOUTHERN DEMOGRAPHY
    (pp. 159-177)

    The population of the American South 1 changed dramatically—in size, composition, and distribution—during the first decade of the new millennium. Some of the changes were a continuation or an acceleration of late-20th-century trends. Others were decade-specific, newly emergent trends. But irrespective of timing and periodicity, the observed population shifts drastically have altered the social, economic, and political fabric of the American South, leading me and my colleague, Jack Kasarda, to label them “disruptive” demographic trends.

    This essay provides snapshots of two of the disruptive demographic trends that are transforming the American South—the browning and graying of the...

  16. SOUTHERN POLITICS AND POLICY: THEN, NOW, AND TOMORROW
    (pp. 179-191)

    An important book on Terry Sanford’s 1960 campaign for governor isTriumph of Good Will: How Terry Sanford Beat a Champion of Segregation and Reshaped the South, by John Drescher. It tells the story of a candidate who bucked the reactionary tide blanketing the South in the aftermath of the Supreme Court’sBrown v. Board of Educationschool desegregation case, gave an endorsement speech at the Democratic National Convention for Massachusetts Catholic John Kennedy, and once in office pushed through a tax increase that overnight boosted North Carolina’s teacher salaries from 39th to 32nd and per-pupil expenditures from 48th to...

  17. VISIONS FOR THE FUTURE OF THE SOUTH
    (pp. 193-207)

    “Today, the will to work must be matched with the skill to work.” This warning was truthful and trending in 1986 when issued by theHalfway Homereport. In 2011, it signals deepened pain and pessimism. Twenty-five years afterHalfway Home, many in the South remain wedged at the halfway mark with no obvious road map for traveling ahead together.

    For communities to be competitive in today’s economy, they must develop a workforce capable of thinking and working creatively. While the South as a region must further develop its creativity quotient if it is to reach national averages in education,...

  18. CONCLUSION
    (pp. 209-215)

    In an effort to draw out a single sweeping conclusion from a diverse collection of essays, we, in typical 21st-century fashion, googled a phrase for a little inspiration: “Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose [The more things change, the more they stay the same].” Indeed, 25 years after the 1986 Commission on the Future of the South proclaimed that the region was “halfway home with a long way to go,” much has changed, but many of the same problems and challenges remain. On topics that range from education and a globally competitive workforce to economic development and entrepreneurship,...