Today in our editorial pages, among Jim Longworth’s counterintuitivity, Ogi Overman’s nostalgia, Alexander Cockburn’s angry leftism and a shameless plug for Chuck Norris’ “cultural manifesto,” we have some good news. Well, it’s pretty good. Or maybe it’s just not bad, which these days passes for red-letter tidings.
Yes, even as business dealings nationwide — and certainly here in North Carolina — are rewriting their futures by curbing expenditures and cutting major expansion projects, FedEx says it’s still game for its regional hubs planned for the aerotropolis around Piedmont Triad International Airport. Bear in mind that planning for the air hub at Piedmont Triad International Airport began with an announcement by the company in 1998 when, strangely enough, shares of FDX were trading on the NYSE for about $45, actually about $15 less than the price today. But in the year between, FDX had seen the mountaintop. Its profile began to rise steadily almost immediately in the days following 9-11, and in 2006 traded for as high as $116 a share. In the throes of this economic crisis, the tendrils of which reach to virtually every sector of the market, FedEx has seen demand for overnight delivery slow down and with it plummeting share earnings. But hey — this is supposed to be about the good news: FedEx announced last week it would stick to its guns here in the Triad, and that the sorting hub would go online in summer 2009 as planned. This is indeed good news that comes across in dark times. The detritus of failed industry is all around us: unfinished subdivisions and empty condos; news of layoffs and closings; a surge in foreclosures; an uptick in unemployment and higher demand on social services. Fact is, we need this sorting hub right now, in much the same way that an emotionally distraught person needs a hug. For us it’s much more than a sturdy corporate presence in our struggling airport with assurances of 1,500 decent jobs and satellite businesses that should bloom like daffodils in spring once the machine is up and running. It’s more than the creation of wealth that should result from the increase in value of the property in the surrounding areas. It’s more than the straightup dollars in our own economy as a result of localized spending and hiring. At this point, 10 years on, the FedEx hub seems like the fulfillment of a promise made in earnest, when we were all a bit younger and perhaps more na’ve. And though it was nice to hear a reassurance last week, it is a promise in which we’ve trusted all this time. Plus, we’ve been squabbling over the land around this hub this entire decade: how it will be zoned, who will get to build on it, where the roads and flight patterns will go… and at times it’s gotten pretty heated. We would look like a bunch of yokels if the whole thing never happened.
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We would look like a bunch of yokels if the whole thing never happened.