by Michael Lowrey
Gotta ask about the economic impact of all those protestors at the Bank of America’s annual shareholders’ meeting yesterday. I say this because whenever something gets built or might get built with some government money, there’s always talk about the economic impact, bout how many tourism dollars the project will generate and multiplier effects in the local economy. And unlike something like minor league baseball, which is mainly about how entertainment dollars are spent within the greater Charlotte area, most of the BofA protestors came from outside the Charlotte area.
These out-of-town protestors are people bringing money to spend in Charlotte. They have to stay somewhere, they have to eat (organic, locally grown vegan food) while they are here. They might spend some money in a bar, go see a band, buy (overpriced organic) coffee, take a yoga class, go to a local music or bookstore, etc. They might tell their friends about what a great place Charlotte is to protest, so some more anarchist and/or radical environmental will come to town to spend money while not protesting. And think about the multiplier effects, how this all helps local business, so that they can spend money at other business right here in Charlotte. And all the action by the protestors is Uptown, which as we all know is where you should spend all your money while in the city.
And those protestors may very well be members of the creative class, the very demographic that none other than Charlotte City Manager Curt Walton has proclaimed is absolutely essential to the city’s future. So rather than attempting to suppress them with extraordinary event ordinances, based upon past policy, it seems that Uptown groups and city and county government really should embrace protestors.
Update: Meanwhile from Greensboro: The Raleigh News & Observer reports that the John Edwards trial is declared by local economic development officials to be a big benefit for the city:
“Overall, I think it’s been a very good thing. Certainly for the local economy, it’s been very good,” said Ed Wolverton, president and CEO of downtown Greensboro Inc., an economic development group.
So if the Edwards trial is good for the local economy in Greensboro, why can’t protestors be god for the local economy here in Charlotte?