|Air Date: June 11, 1996||Program 9624|
MAYNARD JACKSON: We are now internationally inclined; we were not at all before. We still have the kind of good old boyism afflicting us in many places—every state in the Southeastern USA—but the people who have the vision who understand how the global economy is operating are the ones who are leading the way to the future.
KEITH PORTER: Globalization in the American South on this edition of Common Ground.
LIB FLEMING: The important thing that we have to deal with though is maintaining the quality of life that we've been accustomed to and maintaining that livable community. Because, as I said earlier, the Europeans have very high standards, and one of the reasons they liked our area is because they liked the quality of life.
PORTER: Common Ground is a program on world affairs and the people who shape events. It's produced by the Stanley Foundation. I'm Keith Porter.
All regions of the United States are experiencing a growing amount of globalization, establishing or reinforcing their economic and cultural ties with the rest of the world. Today on Common Ground we look at how this process is working in the American South. We first hear from Carol Conway. She's Program Director at the North Carolina office of the Corporation for Enterprise Development. Conway spells out the characteristics of the South which she thinks most influence its dealings with the rest of the world.
CAROL CONWAY: As a region it's got an identifiable consciousness, partly because of the Civil War, that makes the region different from the rest of the country. A couple of factors that are different: one, it's rural but relatively densely populated so it's not like the far West where there are lots of vast, open, unpopulated spaces, but it is a rural-based population. It's also a capital-poor region historically. Following the Civil War the region had an exodus of capital. They ran off to Europe to find capital, since they couldn't bring it back from New York. That has made it a different region. Another factor that makes the South different is its large population of African Americans. Of course there was a wave of an exodus of African Americans to the North at one point in our history, but African Americans are beginning to return to the South as well. In fact, the South—there's a belt that runs along from Maryland I believe to Mississippi—that region has the highest percentage of African-American-owned businesses than anywhere else in the country.
Another feature that's different about it is that there's a heavy concentration of manufacturing. A lot of that is branch employment, but it's the most manufacturing-intensive region of the country. Another factor that makes it different is that the region over the past 20 years has been rapidly growing, and that affects the psyche I think of the Southerners generally and also the political leaders. Another different feature about the South, and this goes way back, is that they have historically underinvested in K-12 education. It was part of the concept that for a low-wage economy you did not need to educate the general public very well; but they invested very heavily in higher education, which is where you would send the well-to-do kids to go make up for the fact that they didn't have a very good elementary school education.
I guess the final characteristic I might mention is that the South historically—with some important exceptions—has had relatively few international connections. So there's a certain sense of isolation. The South has always looked inwardly as opposed to externally.
PORTER: What does that mean? What's important and what advantages and disadvantages does that bring to the South in this new global economy?
CONWAY: One example is in the case of the South's historical deficit in capital led them, beginning in South Carolina, to begin to recruit foreign investment. This has had both its good points and bad points. The good side is that the South as a whole has been far more welcoming of foreigners for purposes of foreign investment than the rest of the country. The bad side though is that it has encouraged a lot of competition between the states and between communities for that foreign investment and has contributed to a sense of isolation and fragmentation. Also, part of the South's isolation has led to the fact that again, with very important exceptions, we tend to have leaders that are inwardly focused. We don't have the same visionary, externally focused leaders that perhaps other parts of the country tend to have. Perhaps the third thing is because of our active African-American community being concerned about global politics—fighting apartheid in South Africa and concern about what happened in Haiti—they have been globally connected, but only on social issues. This is about to change, which will have an important positive impact on the South's connections internationally as the African-American community begins to look at trying to get connected up for business purposes.
JACKSON: Starting back in the early '70s, we were in pursuit of international air routes. We got those. One absolute truism is that where you have an airline flying into Atlanta you're going to have investment from that country coming in. That's true anywhere in America. We pursued consulates; we got more of those. We pursued international banks; we got more and more of those. So we began this big push for internationalism in Atlanta back in the early and middle '70s. Without question, that enhanced our position and understanding point of view—understanding the world reaching out to the world and developing more and more of the world view.
PORTER: This summer the American South will make its most high-profile connection with the rest of the world as it hosts the Centennial Olympic Games. One of the many people responsible for bringing the Olympics to Atlanta is former mayor, Maynard Jackson.
JACKSON: Coming to the Olympics, of course, we won the Olympics. That dramatically has increased our visibility around the world, and we're going to be greatly improved because of that. We'll have a brand new benchmark for Atlanta. It will be much higher than it was before. After the Olympics, what we can look at is what Atlanta was already before the Olympics—the third busiest convention city in America (Chicago #1, New York #2, Atlanta #3). We're going to have improved facilities and greater capacity to accommodate and entertain. As a result of that, we think we're going to have a dramatic increase in convention business, including international convention activity. Tourism is a major thrust for Atlanta. We want to get more tourists, so we'll be improved in that position. Because more people will know about Atlanta, want to come and see the Olympic City, and things like that.
PORTER: Atlanta is, of course, the headquarters to a number of global corporations.
JACKSON: Quite a few. CNN of course is in Atlanta, headquartered there, and that goes all over the world. They're from Atlanta. I'll tell you a quick story. In Rabat, Morocco, chasing votes for Atlanta for the Olympics, [I] got in an elevator with a guy who was not attending any Olympic conference. He and I did not share a language of any kind; so he looked at my name tag and said, "Atlanta, Atlanta." And I said, yes, Atlanta, Georgia, USA. He still didn't catch it. He said, "Atlanta, Atlanta." And I said, CNN. He said, "Ahhh, Atlanta." So that has been a tremendous boost to us.
PORTER: During your tenure as mayor, you opened the International Affairs Office in the mayor's office. Who told you that the mayor could do foreign policy?
JACKSON: Nobody. We just figured that we had to go for ourselves in attracting business to Atlanta, but also in reaching out to the world to send the message about what Atlanta stood for—the home of Martin Luther King, Jr. and the home of 29 degree-granting universities and colleges including the largest consortium of historically Black universities and colleges in the world. Here we are, over 100 years people in Africa and Asia have been coming to these schools in Atlanta primarily and taking home an impression, a positive impression, of our city. We wanted to capitalize on that.
PORTER: One more question for you Mayor Jackson. As you look into the future, what do you see as the next step as far as the Southeast connecting with the rest of the world?
JACKSON: We have an awful lot of upside to take advantage of. We have come far compared to where we were let's say 20 years ago, 25 years ago. The changes are dramatic, I mean literally dramatic. We are now internationally inclined; we were not at all before. We still have the kind of good old boyism afflicting us in many places—every state in the Southeastern USA—but the people who have the vision who understand how the global economy is operating are the ones who are leading the way to the future. We must develop, share, and pursue a common vision in my opinion in the Southeastern USA. How you do it in this very competitive atmosphere with state versus state, city versus city, and county versus county is something we're grappling with. I don't know the answers, but I'm curious and eager to pursue them.
PORTER: I've heard you say that maybe there's a special opportunity with regard to Africa.
JACKSON: Where you find the rest of America not seriously pursuing a continent that may be the richest continent in the world, maybe. Okay? That is an opportunity we ought to pursue. It should be done, because it makes good business sense. Even if it may be difficult to do it, take the long-term view and pursue it. Incidentally, by the way, there is this interesting connection of the African-descended people of America who are most heavily found in five states, I mean these are the five Blackest states, so to speak, of the USA geographically going from Louisiana through South Carolina—Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, and South Carolina. Is that an affinity connection with Africa? A continent, by the way, a collection of many nations, by the way, it's not just one thing. They're not monolithic by a long shot. But, yes, that is a connection that should be exploited, should be taken advantage of by White, Brown, and Black to bring in the jobs, bring in the money, and to also export and to share in a humanitarian effort that will build bridges between the people.
CHARLES RANSON: The Florida International Affairs Commission was created by the Legislature about six years ago to provide overarching, coordinating strategy for all the states' myriad international programs: educational, cultural, consular, and economic development. It's a public/private commission with 27 members in all, 17 private sector.
PORTER: In the American South no state has felt more direct fallout from US foreign policy decisions than Florida, where statements on Cuba and Haiti can have immediate ramifications for the people as well as state and local governments. Charles Ranson is Vice Chairman of the Florida International Affairs Commission.
RANSON: We are a highly internationalized state. Although the figures are soft, probably $60 billion a year of our state economy is directly related to international not counting tourism. We are stressed by some of the predictable issues. Immigration is a major concern for Florida. We are trying to promote stronger dialogue throughout the state. The various communities that may have historically competed, we're trying to promote cooperation. We're encouraging a long-term view rather than a short-term transactional view, because most of the people that we deal with globally take a much longer term view than we do. We found that our long-term strategy in Florida, not only Florida but domestically, tends to be the next election or the next budget cycle. To be successful internationally we've got to look much longer term, and we've got to be willing to put in place strategies and stay with strategies that may not have a payout for five years or even ten years.
PORTER: Where do you see the biggest connections to Florida from the rest of the world? Is it mostly Caribbean or elsewhere?
RANSON: For a variety of reasons our strongest ties and our historic orientation have been north-south. We're heavily involved in Caribbean trade. We have a persistent and very strong trade surplus with the Caribbean and Central America. But because of a very large Hispanic population, and the language facilities that we have, we do a lot of business on the north-south axis. The summit of the Americas in December of '94 cemented that and made that much more clearly understood by a large part of the state's population that had not heretofore appreciated our internationalism. We think, however, that we've got to have balance. We must look east-west, we have to be global. We're positioned for global with our deporter ports and with our proximity to the Panama Canal. We need to be doing business in Asia.
PORTER: Florida also finds itself very close to two sort of long-running, US foreign policy problems, and that's Cuba and Haiti. You've borne the brunt of the biggest disadvantages at least of those relationships. What kind of price has the State of Florida paid?
RANSON: You're absolutely right. When Haiti became a very difficult situation, Haitians started coming to Florida at great peril to themselves in huge numbers; and they were washing on the shores, literally. Over the years we've had the same situation with Cubans coming. The federal response and reaction to both of those have been different. The Cubans have been welcomed; the Haitians have not been welcomed. In either event, we have not had—and particularly with Cubans and the Central American influx generally from El Salvador, Nicaragua, Panama, Colombia, and other parts of the region—the federal support financially to help us absorb what was really a national crisis or a national interest. The policies that are set in Washington have had a disproportionate impact on Florida, as they have either been implemented or as they've been tried and discarded in favor of other policies. We have taken a position, speaking personally. I think a number of us in Florida have taken the position that if we had a foreign policy in the State of Florida one of the first tests of our foreign policy would be how we dealt with our central government to get them to understand the impacts of these policies on Florida—the fact that we disproportionately feel the burden, along with a few of the major cities (such as New York and Chicago) have absorbed a number of Haitians. Boston has, but it's not in the hinterlands. It's not in Iowa, Kansas, or the Midwest where these impacts are felt. We've had strong support form our Congressional delegation in attempting to make that case.
PORTER: One last question for you, back on this internationalization issue, do you find that the general public, the people of Florida, are supportive and understanding of what you're trying to do?
RANSON: I think increasingly so. The internationalization of Florida came about without plan. It was not a strategic decision. It started in the '60s when Castro came into power in Cuba and large numbers of Cubans migrated to Florida. It's grown into a huge business. It's begun to be more appreciated, and it has spread throughout the state. Even village-size communities are beginning to participate in international [activities]. We're seeing the benefits. We need to do more structurally to build the infrastructure. Again, we need to be consistent with our commitment to establishing the infrastructure that's necessary to be globally competitive.
PORTER: We're talking in this edition of Common Ground about globalization in the American South. Printed transcripts and audio cassettes of this program are available. Listen at the end of the broadcast for details. Common Ground is a service of the Stanley Foundation, a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization that conducts a wide range of programs meant to provoke thought and encourage dialogue on world affairs.
Major manufacturers from Europe and Asia have chosen to locate some of their most advanced production facilities in the American South, another sign of increasing globalization. Spartanburg, South Carolina, has become the North American home of German automobile manufacturer BMW. But Spartanburg has a long history of global connections. Lib Fleming is a member of the Spartanburg city council.
LIB FLEMING: Spartanburg, South Carolina, has the largest per capita foreign investment than any other area in the country. Being linked to the rest of the world started about 35 years ago. By the time that we got the kind of sexy BMW, so to speak, and had the national fame, we were just so accustomed to dealing with people, primarily from the European countries, that it really has not made a lot of difference in our lifestyle. We've had consulates from Switzerland and France living in our city. We have taken advantage of the cultural differences to have international festivals. It has very much influenced our curriculum in schools, especially the cultural aspect of that and the cultural aspect of the community. Because the international community that we have has very high standards, and it matched very well with the work ethics and the ingenuity of the forces in our community. So the two together blended very well to come up with very, I think, world-class standards in lots of areas of our lives as well as our industry.
PORTER: Now you kind of slid past the latest megadeal that has brought jobs into Spartanburg. Tell us about that.
FLEMING: All right. BMW is the one that we're certainly getting all the press for, that has put us on the map. That has been a very exciting industry to come into our community. Really the reason that BMW decided to locate in Spartanburg has to do primarily with the previous international development that was already there. We have a large contingency of German people in our community, and they have in turn kind of worked as the ambassadors to these countries, and especially dealing with BMW to work out a compatible agreement that would make them find Spartanburg a wonderful place to set up a business and to introduce them to the community. Because those people were settled in our community, we were able to get agreements that enhanced our area as well. A lot of times we're talking about, are we selling our souls to get these really big investments? South Carolina doesn't feel that was the case. Any incentive that they have gotten will be performance-based. They will have to invest so much money in the community before they can reap any of those tax incentives. They have to hire so many local people from the community, even though I think for like the first 500 jobs they had 50,000 applications from all over the United States and the world. A large majority of those people had to come locally. As a result of that though, the state agreed to train those people to make them competent for those positions. So it was kind of a win-win-win situation I would say. It was a win for our state and it was a win for BMW, but it was also a win for the citizens in our community and the investment it would make.
The other interesting process that was worked out was that not only the money that we as a county will reap as a result of BMW coming in has been worked out, but a proportion will be reinvested in communities that aren't as fortunate as ours in South Carolina communities that don't have the kind of international development and livelihood that we do. A certain percentage that we get will be shared with them; so that in turn, hopefully, they can build up their economic resources in the process. I think it's a very positive thing all the way around. The important thing that we have to deal with though is maintaining the quality of life that we've been accustomed to and maintaining that livable community. Because, as I said earlier, the Europeans have very high standards, and one of the reasons they liked our area is because they liked the quality of life. But with that influx of people and development, we have to work very hard to maintain the quality of life with green spaces and recreational areas and school systems to maintain that level.
PORTER: Another challenge of globalization is helping Americans understand their new role in shaping US foreign policy. This has been the mission of the New American Global Dialogue, a project of the Stanley Foundation done in association with the Domestic Politics and Foreign Policy Project of the Council on Foreign Relations. The dialogue has organized meetings in several regions of the United States, including the Southeast. Michael Clough is dialogue's codirector.
MICHAEL CLOUGH: The New American Global Dialogue is an attempt to try to create a new network of people involved in foreign policy. We've had sort of a traditional foreign policymaking community, and what we're trying to do is to bring together people who didn't really in the past consider themselves foreign policymakers—state and local officials, local activists, people working in community organizations—and bring them into the discussion on foreign policy. We've done this both by having meetings around the country and focusing on different regions' interests, but at the same time by trying to draw in ethnic groups who haven't traditionally been as involved in foreign policy. So in a nutshell the New American Global Dialogue is basically a network-building operation.
PORTER: All right. Now what comes after the Southeast?
CLOUGH: We've got a number of ideas. We're planning on doing a meeting sometime in the fall in Minneapolis. We've had some discussions about the possibility of doing a meeting in Northern California. We did the previous meeting on Southern California, so this would be sort of a follow-on to that. We're also talking about moving into some new areas. I've recently become quite interested in the whole question of the globalization of sports and particularly the way professional sports illustrate a lot of the tensions that develop between global commerce, global marketing, and local community interests. What happens when a team all of a sudden becomes more dependent for its revenues on its ability to market abroad than it is on its ability to draw fans at home. And so it's conceivable we might even do something on that.
PORTER: That is Michael Clough, codirector of the New American Global Dialogue. Our other guests have been Carol Conway of the Corporation for Enterprise Development; former Atlanta Mayor, Maynard Jackson; Spartanburg city council member Lib Fleming; and Charles Ranson of the Florida International Affairs Commission. For Common Ground, I'm Keith Porter.
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