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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Robert Sidney Smith, January 25, 1999. Interview I-0081. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Textiles' influence wanes on national level, strong on state level

Smith sees the waning of the national influence of traditional industries, such as textiles, but sees their continued strength on the state level. He wonders if this discrepancy will cause problems in the future.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Robert Sidney Smith, January 25, 1999. Interview I-0081. 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.

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JM: To draw you a little further around some of those themes, what's your sense of the relative political influence of, say, the business leadership in North Carolina's traditional industries as against the business leaders now emerging and some quite well established newer industries -- banking, pharmaceuticals, and so forth? In other words, what's your broad sense of the relative political clout of those camps and also, maybe, your sense of how you've fared? SS: I think the basic traditional industries -- including textiles and apparel, along with agriculture -- used to have both the national representatives, congressmen and senators. They were quite influential with them. I think that has waned a bit. I think that the bigger companies -- these new entities that now are headquartered here, whether it be banking or technology or whatever else -- they have garnered a greater attention from the national elected representative. However, at the state level these big entities -- like I've talked about -- don't have that much state interest. So, the textiles and agriculture and other basic traditional industries have continued their influence at the state level. I don’t see it having waned at all. It's still in place. So, you've got now a difference. [There is] a national focus that's on the state level that's different than a state focus on the state level. It's going to be interesting to see where those two things come out and what impact. I can see it could be putting two sets of representatives -- one national, one local -- at odds with each other on some issues down the road. It's going to be interesting to watch that one.