No doubt you’ve heard that the City of Greensboro has announced the winners of the federal Strong Cities, Strong Communities Challenge. Winner of the $500,000 prize was the UNCG Office of Research and Economic Development for its proposed Global Opportunities Center, which will ostensibly “leverage the resources of local colleges and universities, corporations, and community partners by connecting and educating students and businesses in innovative ways that result in new global business and career opportunities.”

The Rhino’s John Hammer is —shall we say— somewhat skeptical:

If there is a less entrepreneurial group than government bureaucrats it would be hard to find them. The fresh idea that won the award was a Global Opportunities Center for downtown Greensboro to search for global business and career opportunities.

This idea is not fresh, innovative or entrepreneurial. In fact, it might be described as old and worn out.

But what is more infuriating than giving an award that is supposed to be to promote economic development and the entrepreneurial spirit to a bunch of government bureaucrats is that nobody who received any of the $900,000 in awards has to try and complete the plan that they presented to win the award.

UNCG, for instance, can use the money to fly the faculty to France for the weekend to promote global opportunities, or just for fun. The money is a gift from the federal government for the recipients to spend however they like. According to City Manager Jim Westmoreland, “There are no restrictions on the money.”

Guess what–I’ll choose not to be as skeptical as Hammer—I’ll just choose to sit back and wait for all the wonderful things the almost $1 million (total spread over six prizes) in taxpayers money is going to do for our fair city. That said, it might be a long wait.

Bonus observation: JLF’s Sarah Curry does not refer to SC2 specifically, but her latest Fiscal Update nonetheless provides valuable context:

Many will argue that this is “free” money and if North Carolina doesn’t take it, then it will go somewhere else. Every tax dollar Washington sends to North Carolina is a dollar taken from taxpayers in North Carolina and other states. Economists have found that federal subsidies to the states lead to higher state taxes and spending in the long run, because the federal “seed money” creates a demand for more government with current and future commitments.

Curry adds “North Carolina has set a powerful precedent by not accepting federal funding to expand Medicaid as well as rejecting the federal government’s extension of unemployment benefits,” a statement that no doubt gives the guys down at the local paper of record fits.