Editorial: Greensboro’s jobs initiative

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Weíll have to wait until Thursday evening to hear President Barack Obamaís plans for putting more Americans back to work, but some Greensboro leaders arenít waiting.
The Greensboro Chamber of Commerce recently launched a new job-creation initiative thatís a model of simplicity and directness. Itís the kind of program businesses in any county, including Rowan, might emulate.
Basically, the One Job for Greensboro program asks each local company to consider adding a single worker to the payroll. Thatís it. No tax breaks or other incentives. No fast-track regulatory approval process. No grand scheme beyond putting a thousand or so people back to work if the program is successful.
The idea behind it is that some businesses need to expand staff, but theyíre hesitant because of fears weíre on the verge of returning to recession. Some high-profile CEOs have recently sounded a similar theme, including Starbucks boss Howard Schultz who has urged his fellow capitalists to free up the hiring. ěRecord levels of cash are piling up in corporate treasuries, idling,î he said. ěThe only way to break this cycle of fear is to break it.î
Obviously, fear isnít the only thing holding companies back. Smaller firms arenít sitting on buckets of cash. Many are struggling to maintain their existing staffs. In an interesting coincidence, however, shortly after Greensboro announced its jobs initiative, a national survey of small businesses found that 41 percent intended to add workers within the next six months. As for whatís holding them back from hiring now, the survey by Pepperdine Universityís Graziadio School of Business and Management and Dun & Bradstreet Credibility Corp. found ěeconomic uncertaintyî as the most frequently cited impediment to growth (38 percent), followed by lack of access to capital (26 percent) and government regulations/taxes (24 percent).
Rowan County has more than 140 industrial employers, according to a recent listing. Throw in restaurants, retail establishments, service providers and other small businesses, and the county has more than 10,000 individual businesses, the Census says. All of those companies arenít in a position to add jobs; many, in fact, are one-person operations. Yet as weíve seen with announcements of expansions at Hitachi Metals and Universal Forest, some companies are in a growth mode. Augustís dismal jobs report shook confidence in the recovery. While businesses must exercise caution, they shouldnít be guided by the fear factor. Adding a worker canít be an act of charity, but it can be an act of faith in Americaís future.