Describing North Carolina's growth
Here, Phillips describes North Carolina's economic transformation in the second half of the twentieth century. Governor Luther Hodges led a drive to diversify the state's economy. "Statewide banking," a system that exemplifies North Carolina's public-private partnership, sparked the economic revitalization, which manifests itself in the state's medical centers and international airports.
Citing this Excerpt
Oral History Interview with S. Davis (Dave) Phillips, January 27, 1999. Interview I-0084. 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
DP: High Point, excuse me. North Carolina, well High Point's very unusual. Nobody's made that transition like North Carolina's made that transition. It was all blue-collar towns until the last hundred years as was Greensboro and Winston primarily. We were the manufacturing center of America. A greater percentage of the workforce in the Triad and in North Carolina was in manufacturing than any other area in America. It had to do with furniture, textiles, and tobacco manufacturing. Well, those industries have changed dramatically over the last two decades. It has forced the cities, the counties, and the state to come up with a strategy to diversify this state. So it started really with enlightened leadership in the state level, the legislature and the Governors. It goes back to, in my opinion, to Luther Hodges. He was a businessperson from Eden, North Carolina. He was in the textile business with Fieldcrest Mills. He was Lieutenant Governor, and the Governor died, and he became Governor. He is a businessperson who understood the dynamics of industry. He wasn't a politician. It was under his leadership that Research Triangle Park was fashioned. The business community loved the idea, and the educational industry in North Carolina loved the idea. It's been incredibly successful. It didn't start off as successful. It took years. There were a lot of questions. It hit, and then it set a tone in North Carolina that these things really are workable when you get the public-private sector working together. It's the greatest example ever of this in this state. That changed attitudes. That said, 'We can do this on the state level. We can form groups around the state to help work together and formulate strategy and infrastructure.' Things of that nature. So I think it had a lot to do with attitude.
Another example of that, Joe, is the banking industry, which is phenomenal in North Carolina. You say why? Well, it's not just because of Crutchfield and McColl trying to compete with each other. That's a lot of it. And it's wonderful. But North Carolina was the first state--now I'm saying this but I don't know if it's a hundred percent correct--but the first state in the south and their might have been another state in the country, that allowed statewide banking. In other words, you could go throughout the state of North Carolina and set up shop. A lot of state charters allowed you to do it in one city here and one city there. So that's what got Texas in trouble. That's why all the Texas banks got into trouble with the oil and Houston and Dallas and whatever it was. They weren't big enough to handle the blows that came their way. North Carolina passed statewide banking; therefore, it gave these banks, the NCNBs, the First Unions a base in which to build upon. They then took it to other states. Then there became regional banking. The laws were changed, and it's evolved from there, and now it's just wide open. But it was that public-private relationship that allowed that to happen. You just happened to have two horses that just jumped all over it.
You've got another great bank here in North Carolina, Wachovia who used to be the biggest bank in North Carolina and is the best run bank from what everybody says with fewer losses and what have you. Then you've got this bank that all of a sudden started up, Southern National and BB and T, two eastern North Carolina banks that are now, they're the biggest bank in North Carolina on assets in this state. North Carolina is fortunate, and this has helped our profile. The Research Triangle, I tell you, Duke University, our university system, Chapel Hill these are all major assets. The Medical Center, you think about most states. They don't have these medical centers. They don't have three international airports. They don't have the profile that this state has across the board. So they don’t look at North Carolina as a textile state or an agriculture state or a tobacco state. I mean, we're big in hog manufacturing and not too proud of it. We've taken a hit with tobacco, but it's so ironic that Duke University was built on the back of tobacco as was Wake Forest University, great medical centers and educational centers that all came about because of that horrible thing called tobacco.