Vandal "rex" Life & Science bronto, relegates loved statue to extinction
City unveils design for I-40 American Tobacco Trail bridge

BCR's Daily Fishwrap Report for June 2, 2009

Besides the case of the headless dino that's grabbin' all the headlines, there's more to share from today's fishwraps:

  • The H-S has its own wrap-up of the City Council public hearing on the budget, with Ray Gronberg concurring on the key subjects broached: concerns over city worker impact from the budget, Tidewater Fiber's complaints over their recycling contract, and advocacy from the Fayetteville St. area and other urban neighborhoods for streetscapes and targeted area investments. (H-S)
  • A downgrade to SunTrust's credit rating was feared to possibly impact the County's issuance of AAA-rated debt through the megabank for the human services complex, a fear allayed when SunTrust lined up a letter of credit from Atlanta's Federal Home Loan bank. The county is using short-term debt to finance construction, rolling over the debt each week to make its interest rate essentially less than 1% per annum, vs. 4% if borrowed through traditional means; it intends to refinance the project when credit markets stabilize. (H-S)
  • Enrollment at Durham Tech has remained steady, with full-time student enrollment in particular unchanged even as such rates soar nationwide. About 30% of DTCC students are full-timers. (H-S)
  • The N&O's Bruce Siceloff has a nice feature on the NC 147 pedestrian bridge, noting in particular the importance of reconnectivity to Burton Elementary School; the arrival of the freeway added a one-mile additional walk to school for students, says neighborhood resident and local historian R. Kelly Bryant. (N&O)
  • Durham ranks 26th in the nation for high-tech, and Raleigh-Cary 38th -- in a study that an N&O accustomed to trumpeting regional number-ones claims undervalues the Triangle due to its two-MSA split. On the flip side, the Durham MSA has 2.6x the national concentration of high-tech jobs (Raleigh-Cary, 1.5x) and ranks seventh nationally in R&D, sixth in pharmaceutical manufacturing, and second in computer equipment manufacturing. (N&O)
  • Proving that Durham Magazine did a good thing in hiring pro-jo Matt Dees to join as their editor, the ex-Daily Tar Heel chief has picked through Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor's 2005 appearances at a Duke Law School panel; the judge's talk, recorded digitally, has provided the sound bite on "policy-making" taking place at the appealate court level, but Dees goes through the entire nearly hour-long talk and brings out clarification and highlights. (DM Blog)

Comments

barry

"Durham ranks 26th in the nation for high-tech, and Raleigh-Cary 38th -- in a study that an N&O accustomed to trumpeting regional number-ones claims undervalues the Triangle due to its two-MSA split. On the flip side, the Durham MSA has 2.6x the national concentration of high-tech jobs (Raleigh-Cary, 1.5x) and ranks seventh nationally in R&D, sixth in pharmaceutical manufacturing, and second in computer equipment manufacturing."

Kevin - you can probably analyze this better than i can, but what does this mean in terms of all the statements that i constantly read from commenters here and at my place, that without Duke U., Durham would essentially shrivel up and die economically?

Kevin Davis

Barry: I've never done any analysis, but I suspect there's some truth to the assertion.

Duke employs something like 20,000 Durhamites, out of a total workforce of 40,000 people.

The Durham Co. employment base size is about 130,000 jobs. If Duke shuttered its doors tomorrow, you're talking about an instant unemployment shock in the 25% range -- more, when you count the failure of so many businesses that have grown up around the campuses to serve students, faculty, staff and patients. Those are Appalachia numbers.

You'd look at a significant number of hotel and restaurant closures, the disappearance of a range of cultural resources -- followed in turn by an exodus of citizens who worked for or once worked for Duke, and then in turn the businesses who supported them.

Of course this is all a mental experiment -- but it's hard to imagine 1 out of 3 jobs in a county, or 1 out of 6 positions employing Durham residents disappearing without a major shock.

Now, if Duke had _never_ been here and our economy had developed differently: much harder to say. In general, it's hard imagining a post-tobacco, post-textile existence for Durham without Duke. Name me a similarly-sized Southern city that built an industrial base (as opposed to professional, tourism or service sector) that survived the loss of manufacturing and heavy industry.

barry

well, 20,000 jobs out of 130,000 jobs is closer to 15% than 25%, and i'd be curious as to how many of those jobs that Duke employs Durhamites for are clerical/minimum wage jobs. Granted it would be difficult losing the largest employer, and many of those hi tech RTP jobs, while technically in Durham, belong to people who actually don't live here or spend much money here. On the other hand, the medical facilities certainly wouldn't go anywhere if the university disappeared. Someone would end up running them.

it's not an experiment that i'd like to try, but i gotta admit, when i hear variations on the "If Duke would up and leave, Durham would have nothing" whinge, i remember that Durham was a fairly well off community long before Duke resembled a major university, and that Duke also receives a lot of benefits from being in Durham.

Just wondering out loud.

Kevin Davis

Barry,

Hate to say this, friend, but I feel like your argument has much more to do with emotion than logic.

My 25%-30% number was looking at the fact that Durham's unemployment rate is I believe calculated on loss of jobs that exist within a community, not on the loss of jobs of a community's residents. IOW, you count the 40k Duke jobs in Durham out of 130k total jobs in Durham -- regardless of whether half are held by non-Durhamites. OTOH, I don't know what % of that 40k work in other counties or regions, which is where the 25-30% came in for Durham job impact.

Even is someone ended up running the medical center if Duke left in your hypothetical scenario -- unless that someone were an academic medical center a la UNC, you'd keep most of the lower-wage patient care type of jobs but lose more research and academia-linked medical positions. So if a Rex or WakeMed (say) took over, congrats, you've maintained a basic hospital but lost much of what brings higher-wage/higher-skill positions in.

Secondly, Durham "was a fairly well off community" back in the days when there was real industrial and manufacturing action taking place in the city. That's left Durham. It's also left most US cities.

Comparing Durham's wealth in, oh, the 1910s-1950s to its position now doesn't make any sense.

I think you're reacting to heavily to this out of remembering the Duke LAX stuff, where there was this entitled air of "what would Durham be without Duke?" floating in the discourse.

The arrogance underlying the argument from those who were making it does not necessarily negate the actuality that, if Duke were for some reason to shutter its doors, Durham would need a generation or two to regain the lost wealth and economic position -- if it ever did.

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