By Michael Randle
Southern Business & Development is evolving into what we think is a more enjoyable and pleasant report on business and economic development in the South (the print and online product that is the umbrella of RandleReport.com).
Our – speaking for us, not you – competitive nature of slamming other regional economies such as the Midwest and Northeast (rightly so, but so tacky and out-of-date) is over with.
My (our) insecurities of media portraying the South as a backwater place to live, work, own a business and expand to, we do not care about that anymore. Your inaccurate, decades-ago, history-based content no longer pisses us off. We know we were a single-minded duck for 100 years. But now, or for the last 40 years, the South’s economy has thrived like no other regional economy. We were a duck on the world stage. We are now a beautiful swan.
My (our) insecurities are eliminated by data that clearly shows this region is indeed the economic engine of the largest economy on earth. Anxiety, anger, depression, insecurity, a feeling of not being connected with the rest of the world is no longer an issue with us Southerners and its leaders.
The South rules economically and has for a long time. After all, based on GDP, the largest economies in the world are the U.S., China and the 15 states that make up the American South, followed by Germany and Japan.
In the early 1990s, a reporter from the San Antonio Express-News asked me if the South was the region “poised” to lead the U.S.’s economy. I answered, “Poised? Poised?? We were poised to lead the U.S. economy in the late 1970s, but it goes back much longer than that.”
Few knew it or even know it now (don’t tell that to the millions who migrate to the region). It just took us a while to get rid of our tic of being inferior economically. The tic is now gone from facing somewhat constantly the stereotyping and the innuendo that where we live. Immigrants, refugees, U.S.-based migrating folks and natives alike know this is the place to be, as do major international companies. Those that read about the history of the South in the media and believe it is even remotely the same as decades ago, have apparently not come down here to visit to behold the wonder of a region that is now so worldly.
Does the South have economic challenges? Of course it does, like every U.S. region. But the brain-drain of folks moving to the warmest and less expensive place to live, work and own a business has captured many smart people from other regions of the U.S. and the world. It is the cherished and the darling of all regions in the U.S. for foreign-based companies to locate here in this country. I mean, come on down. We need you.