Documenting the American South Logo
Excerpt from Oral History Interview with S. Davis (Dave) Phillips, January 27, 1999. Interview I-0084. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Regional economic strategy

In this excerpt, Phillips remembers Governor Jim Martin's regionalist approach to economic development, which seems to mean involving the state as a whole, both business centers and rural areas, in commerce. By dividing the state into seven regions, and focusing on bringing business opportunities and consumer opportunities to each region, Martin hoped to get more North Carolinians involved in making and spending money in the state.

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

One of which was regionalism. He believed in regionalism. I had been involved in regionalism here in the Triad. It's a real simple concept, but he saw it work at the Research Triangle Park. He started a thing called Triangle East, which helped Wilson, North Carolina, which is where he's from. But it's a conceptual sort of a thing. The best way I can explain it to you is we are trying to induce people from all over the world to come to our state. We're one of fifty states and that if you've got to get them focused on the Southeast United States as to what is going on with us compared to wherever. From there you've got to get them on our state. Once you get them here, you don't want to talk about a hundred counties and five hundred communities. There really are over five hundred communities in North Carolina. Everybody obviously wants economic development. So we found out through our coming together in the Triad to form a regional partnership that it's like a shopping center. You've got certain anchor tenants. At the same time you've got lots of other folks that they'll pass by in smaller shops in the mall. At least they'll have a shot at the consumer. If you're not putting them in the mall, you're never going to have a shot. To make our rural areas to have some chance of competing, if we can let everybody create the mall and walk them through the mall whether its on a web page or through a book or however we do it and show all of our capabilities. Not everybody wants to live in a big city. Let the buyer shop and figure what suits their taste. So that's the concept of regionalism. We broke down the state into seven regions. We got the legislature to fund it. So it's easy to say I need to be in the West or on the Coast or I need to be in the Triangle for this reason. Once you're there, you have a shot at twelve, fifteen, eighteen counties and lots of cities. Everybody cooperates. Why let them out? When you've got a buyer, don't let them out of the mall. Lock the doors. Just get a little piece of them, but don't let them go to another state. That's what had been happening. What's happening is all these other states are starting to emulate what we did. It's nothing but common sense. It's easy to do but psychologically it's another barrier that people try to protect their turf. Developers and politicians, it's just some of the same old stuff. But it's evolved into being a very successful concept and program.