Subsidise Local???

Someone brought up the idea of downtown businesses giving a discount for people shopping off peak hours. Unfortunately, small business really doesn't have the money to do that. Part of that is that State and Local subsidies and development go to out of town ventures - like Interstate 40, The Parton Theater and Carolina North. We encourage people to buy locally, but what is government doing to help local businesses?

I don't have any preconceived notions on this, just the usual anectdotal evidence that many cite as fact. However, it is interesting how Micro-Loans have helped in developing countries. I believe someone won a Nobel Prize with that one.

As a taxpayer and homeowner in Chapel Hill, I am in favor of things that help out working people (and students) like free bus service. I feel like that is giving people a hand-up rather than a hand out and helps local business, the environment and actually keeps taxes lower (fewer car trips, fewer road repairs).

So why not take it step further? The latest policies in the Country (not singling out Orange) bend over backwards to lure large companies bringing a couple hundred jobs to an area, but we do almost nothing for the smaller home-grown businesses in most cases.

What if rather than giving Dell Millions of dollars in tax subsidies, we worked to put that money into local businesses with solid business plans. Rather than States competing for business, let's give the next Bill Gates, Sam Walton or Michael Dell a shot at a micro-grant of $1,000 to $5,000.

Small businesses bring jobs to the community and the extra benefit is that the profits stay here.

There are all sorts of problems that could crop up, but imagine how much a small business could benefit from a small loan compared to the limited benefit funding the Parton Theater, for example.

Subsidise Local?


I only know about the engineering scene, but there are some grant and loan programs  at the state level to help NC businesses develop technologies, and to give them a competitive advantage relative to out-of-state competitors.  In particular, the North Carolina Board of Science and Technology gives grants to North Carolina companies involved in the development of cutting edge technologies. NC Idea, which is privately funded, does much the same thing.  There are undoubtedly others.  My company has benefited directly from a BST grant, and CH-C has shared in those benefits since the money was used to hire people in the area.  

As a technology developer, I don't think that in most cases $5k will go that far, but in the right circumstances it might.  As you say, Mike Dell started in his dorm room.  For guys in commercial, rather than technical fields, a micro-grant might be enough capital to make a real difference.

Another way to use a little money to get a lot of bang might be to create a competition with a cash prize.  Look what the Ansari X prize did for space travel.  A fairly meager $10 million prize resulted in the birth of an entirely new industry (let's ignore for the moment that it is a ridiculously unsustainable, air-polluting industry).  A CH-C municipal  technology competition could do lots of good for small, local companies.  The media exposure it would bring, the opportunity to meet and share ideas with people doing similar work, and of course the money for the winner, could all benefit local tech companies.  And the competition would probably draw interest from venture capital groups looking for companies in which to invest.  Finally and most importantly, depending on how the competition was structured,such a competition might even result in some really useful new technology that wouldn't have otherwise been developed.


I love your reply. I spend a lot of time in my little zone and forgot about the Ansari X prize and some of the competitions.

It might even be a fun thing to bring some publicity to the IC and be a good way to bring UNC and the Town together. 

It also points out that a good project might be simply helping get the information out there about these grants in a free forum. A lot of time, small business folks are so busy running their business they forget to check and see if help is available.


--Freedom is not just another word

And lo and behold Dell is closing up shop and giving its 221 Million Dollars back. Wow.  


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