Raleigh could be on the verge of being chosen for the home of a new military command. The US Army is seeking a location for the Futures Command Headquarters. This group would be reponsible for the creation of weaponry to suit the needs of the coming century, replacing a trend to simply update weapons used in the last century. Ideal locations include areas with access to strong university centers, a vibrant business community, a talented and educated workforce (especially in engineering), and good quality of life. Raleigh sounds like a no-brainer.
Competition is stiff, but we are still in the game. Our local universities have histories of working with the defense department as well as of creating new products. Military officers have attended education programs at our graduate business schools, and we are close enough to Fort Bragg and Washington DC to make collaboration easier. Some of the private industry this command will most likely work with may already be in place in our area, and it is safe to say, others may move here to work with this group.
Senators Richard Burr and Thom Tillis, along with Governor Roy Cooper, have played a role in bringing Raleigh into play for consideration for this command.
What could go wrong?
Like every discussion of convincing a business entity to locate in North Carolina, there are a great many factors that could take us out of the running for consideration. Including the Law of Unintended Consequences.
We have seen before the unintended consequences of hastily approved legislation. We only need to go back to the fevered passage of HB 2 to see what can go wrong. A bill limiting bathroom access ultimately drove away business. A lot of potential, and expected, income never materialized as entertainers pulled out of concert venues and even the NCAA declined to host it's major sporting events within our borders. The state's business community suffered. Discrimination is NOT good for business.
Now we have a new bill to consider. HB 514. This also hastily drawn bill will allow municipalities to tax residents to support town-only charter school systems.
We all know that North Carolina, like every other state, is experiencing an urban-rural divide. The urban-rural divide is not just city and country but higher income/lower income, and racial. Any legislation allowing for what amounts to the dissolution of county-wide school systems will recreate a socio-economic and racial divide in the populations of our schools.
Is that what the Army wants? Does the integrated US Army really want to put its command center in a state where wide disparities exist in school funding? Where city schools are white and rural schools are African American?
Do our legislators think that the disparity that could result from this bill will draw Amazon and Apple to North Carolina?
This bill has been created on the spur of the moment, without proper thought. It needs to be refered to a committee to look into all possible repercussions. Perhaps someone would want to ask Apple and Amazon, and the rest of North Carolina's business community, just what kind of schools their employees want their kids to attend before this bill becomes law. There are bigger issues at stake than the town of Matthews would have you believe. Maybe GOP leadership should check in with our US Senators for a broader perspective.
Put this bill in committee and schedule the committee report for January, 2019.
Raleigh is amongst the final five cities for consideration. North Carolina doesn't need any more unintended consequences.
A decision for the location of the Army Futures Command is due later this summer.