UNC School of Government interview

25 01 2013

i just finished a phone interview with UNC. they work quickly. the application deadline was 1/15. roughly 50% of interviewees are accepted into the MPA program, so i’m no shoo in. but i’m more interested in the MPA program than I was prior to the call.

the interviewers were professional, prepared and gracious. two professors, two students and one graduate hosted. one of the students works part-time as a research assistant at the SoG and part-time at the Triangle J Council of Governments, most recently working in database management. i was glad to hear students have time to sandwich contextual work around their full-time course load. T, W, TH courses leave some time to make a little money the rest of the week. the alumnus said she was about at the same place in her career experience-wise as i am.

i also liked that professor ammons tactfully questioned whether a dual degree made sense. i applied for the MPA / Master of City and Regional Planning, but it might not make sense. three years is a long time to be in school, for age and money one, but also for want of getting this show on the road and doing interesting work.

i’m reenergized this evening about economic development. just like asking students to present what they’ve learned helps them clarify their thoughts, articulating why i want to go to school and work in econdev renewed my mojo.

i can imagine an urban lifestyle for the next two years, learning and working and living like a pauper. it feels fulfilling.

Economic development @UNC

7 08 2012

“If you’re looking for a 9-to-5 job, you can get up and leave right now.
This is not a job. This is a lifestyle.” – Ronnie Bryant, President, Charlotte Regional Partnership

Ronnie Bryant closed the economic development boot camp I attended at UNC last week and sold me on wanting to work in this field.

In the lean years at F4K, when John Shaw and I worked long hours to keep the lights on, I used to think, “That’s it. I’m going to find some high-need, stable job that won’t keep me up at nights.”


We didn’t sleep or earn much then, but I felt alive.
Economic development gives me that same motivation to get involved.

Simply, economic development is about creating jobs in your community.
That can include loving on your existing businesses and stealing recruiting businesses from somewhere else. Increase your tax base, improve the quality of life for people in your hood.

UNC’s School of Government runs this most excellent, annual course called “Basic Economic Development”.

Even for me, coming from a career and workforce development POV and not working in econdev right now, the course was worthwhile. We learned about ethics codes, business retention strategies and how county vs. regional economic development organizations work together.

Some memorable takeaways:

Incentives are BS.

Businesses look at workforce, infrastructure, workforce, education, workforce and oh, also workforce, when they consider moving to an area. Company heads may say they want incentives on the table, but generally after they’ve decided to move to your area. This came from a no-BS 20-year veteran site consultant.

Workforce, workforce, workforce.
Mac Holladay‘s exact words were: “If you don’t remember anything else I say here today, remember workforce. The rest is details.”

Businesses want to know they can hire the workforce they need, if they locate in, say, Person County, and they really don’t care, if that workforce is driving from Danville, VA or not.

Would-be entrepreneurs cite healthcare as the number one obstacle to starting a new business.

If you’re thinking about taking this course, take it. Add the dates to your calendar, so you don’t miss it. We had top-notch content everyday from veteran developers. And while I’m $650 poorer, I’m more resolved to come back from Korea and get to work. I miss being part of a movement.

Interested in economic development? UNC’s School of Government offers more than the basics boot camp.