There is a little nugget of a story that has been haunting the front page of the Greensboro News and Record for the past week that has been bugging me.
With the revelations of American Express this past week, announcing the loss of yet more jobs from the state, you would think NC local governments would be more ambitious in their efforts to keep jobs in NC.
My day job is running an interactive marketing company. I live here in North Carolina, yet work in Silicon Valley for new high tech start-ups. This story of a small NC interactive company having to deal with backward business acumen is one that I have already been through.
From the article above, the county attorney Mark Payne and another city commissioner, Billy Yow feels the county has been hood-winked by popular GOP target, Chairman "Skip" Alston. In the middle of all of this, the government drags a local web developer, XMG Online through the mud.
From today's press conference from XMG, the paper's article is wrong on a lot of key points. Essentially the story is this, XMG gave the county a proposal for a home page and 40 extra pages. The county gave XMG a purchase order to complete the site. After the purchase order was issued, the county began adding new features to the project that was not included on the proposal. XMG attempted to keep up with the flood of requests, but at some point XMG sought relief from the county and sought mediation with the county and Williams reached out to Chairman Alston. Being the Chairman of the commission, it seems to me it would be his job to try to get this issue solved. Maybe Yow would rather have Williams go to the NC Department of Fisheries for mediation instead of the guys whose job it is?
More than a year later, the Greensboro News & Record reports that Williams got the county's business by going to high school with Alston's son at Dudley High School and being on a board with Alston. According to Williams, he only knows the commissioner's son from the shared work on the board. They don't knock back Mexican beer together on weekends or go on bromance fishing trips together in the hills of Appalachia, they never speak apart from their work on the board. Plus, Williams went to high school in Maryland and only came to North Carolina to attend NC A&T.
As I see it, someone is trying to score political points and using a local high tech business man as the pawn. How is this grade school behavior conducive to attracting high tech companies to NC or my my case, keeping them from leaving? It is these types of shenanigans from both local government and local companies seeking assistance in gaining access to social marketing tools and high tech server software that makes for a bothersome and sometimes hostile environment for start-ups.
It is hard enough to get a business started, entrepreneurs certainly needs the support of the community, they do not need to be made into a punching bag for someone's personal agenda.