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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with John Medlin, May 24, 1999. Interview I-0076. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Banking success in North Carolina

In this excerpt, Medlin tries to explain the success of banking in North Carolina, suggestion that a dispersal of business and political power in the state allowed for wider growth.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with John Medlin, May 24, 1999. Interview I-0076. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) in the Southern Oral History Program Collection, Southern Historical Collection, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Full Text of the Excerpt

JOSEPH MOSNIER:
Let me turn to a short list here of questions that really turn to a broader context sort of take you outside. Well, one I'll open with a banking question specifically, and we'll certainly touch on banking along the way. But these also sort of range out more generally across the economic history of the region and the nation in the last several decades. First, this question you've probably heard a hundred times, but I'd be interested again to hear what you have to say. Why has North Carolina ended up such a key part of the banking landscape, nationally and internationally?
JOHN MEDLIN:
I think very simply that we, first of all that, we had the opportunity to go statewide early on and have done that. We developed a number of statewide banks that have made each other very competitive. I mean you couldn't get away with anything in North Carolina for very long. And because we had statewide banking, I think the economy of North Carolina has been more dispersed and spread out because. In Georgia for example, if you went to Georgia, if you were an out of state company moving to Georgia, you probably were in touch with First Atlanta or Trust Company or C&S. If you went there, they were probably going to encourage you to go somewhere around metro Atlanta. I think the fact that, if you look at Richmond, you have a similar situation. Atlanta and other cities across the country that tended to build up around where the money was. Because the money was spread out across North Carolina, I think our growth was more diverse. Also, it probably had something to do with the political power being more dispersed. There's not a, you really have three states here, the agricultural East, the industrial Piedmont, the mountainous West and in some respects politically. Neither one of those really has ever probably gotten the upper hand; the farmers probably dominated more some time in the past. It was sort of a pattern of the Governor rotated from East to Piedmont and West. So I think the banking laws had a lot to do with this; our diverse geography had something to do with it. It certainly gave North Carolina banks an advantage when the starting gun on interstate banking came about. We'd been doing this, and it was not different for us to manage banks from here to Atlanta than it was from here to Asheville, which is about the same difference as to Atlanta.
JOSEPH MOSNIER:
By and large your assessment of the state's role in enabling this record of tremendous economic growth of all sorts, assessments that this state has worked very favorably on behalf of business.
JOHN MEDLIN:
Yeah. Yeah I think the fact that political power has been dispersed. Like I said, it really hasn't been a dominant group. It has made it cleaner. We haven't had big scandals in modern times of political corruption and that sort of thing that has made politicians I think more responsive to all the people. I don't think business has ever gotten a big break in North Carolina nor has it gotten ignored. It's sort of a good balance I think. We tend to be a higher tax state in some respects. We've got lower real estate taxes and higher income and sales taxes. We spend a lot of money on education. We probably spend a disproportionate amount of money on higher education than on K to twelve education. That'll show up in the numbers. The one thing that we still need to do better on is that K through twelve education, which is a problem all across the south. We maybe, we've made progress, but we've still got to make more progress.