It’s the Economy at NCLGBA’s Last Day

ELGL is visiting Wrightsville Beach for the North Carolina Local Government Budget Association (NCLGBA) summer conference. In this column, ELGL nerd Ben Kittelson reflects on the experience.

By Ben Kittelson – LinkedIn and Twitter

July 15

Economics and Economic Incentives

Final day of the conference and it was all economics. The day led off with a representative from the newly formed, Economic Development Partnership of North Carolina. Despite the dry name they do some very important work for the State. They primarily focus on five areas:

  1. Attracting new businesses to North Carolina
  2. Supporting existing businesses
  3. Promoting exports from North Carolina
  4. Tourism promotion and support
  5. Support for entrepreneurs and new businesses

Despite these lofty goals that did not stop a Pokemon from crashing the presentation…

hypno at edpnc

Dr. Walden

Let me preface this with, I love economics lectures. I majored in Economics (at the prestigious Willamette University) and I love reading nerdy books about the economy. With that being said, Dr. Michael Walden from NC State University gave an awesome talk about the current economic outlook for the nation and North Carolina.

dr walden

I have sat through my fair share of dry economics lectures but this was not one of them, he did a great job keeping it entertaining and informative. There were a few things that I thought were particularly important from his presentation:

“We will have a recession by the end of this decade.” That’s a direct quote from an economist. Here’s hoping it’s more like 2001 than like 2008. Dr. Walden’s point was that we’ve had a very long, extended period of growth, which means we’re due for a recession (capitalism is so fickle). But good news, he doesn’t think it’ll come before 2018…

It has never been cheaper to borrow money. Despite not coming up in the musical, today’s interest rates are lower than what Alexander Hamilton had to work with at the beginning of the country’s history. So, maybe we shouldn’t put off that bond project that’s been kicked around for 10 years?

Urban areas in North Carolina have grown at an extremely fast rate. In the last six years, the Charlotte and Raleigh metro areas have added 20% to their workforce. Twenty percent! Dr. Walden said that you’d be hard pressed to find any other regions in the country that have grown like that. However, that growth has not been uniform, other areas in the state have decreased and by quite a bit (our condolences Rocky Mount).

Also get ready, the esteemed economist had the hottest of hot takes on social media during the presentation:


  I have no rebuttal to this, I got distracted by my twitter feed…


July 14

Afternoon Takeaways

Before I forget I want to share some takeaways from the afternoon, although it may seem like the world stopped after we gave our presentation there were some other great learning opportunities.

Drop the Mic

Dr. Ammons from the storied UNC School of Government dropped some performance management knowledge. His whole session was great, but real causally he said this:



I almost stood up and gave a round of applause. There are few statements I could agree with more. His point was all about getting out and talking to employees and departments, tell them you are reading the info they give them and how important it is to decision making.


Salisbury Downtown

I’m always curious about how cities can reinvigorate and redevelop a downtown. (Hot take alert) I think downtowns are one of the most underutilized resources cities have. Anything we can do to spur development and get people into a city’s core is a good thing in my book. To that point there were two reps from the big city of Salisbury, NC at the conference talking about what they did and they had some great lessons for cities.

Couple of takeaways: Have redevelopment grants to encourage the projects you want to see and partner with other agencies to make development easier.

I do think my favorite part of the presentation may have been Preston Mitchell‘s seersucker sport coat.


Meanest (or Best?) Interview Question Ever


I just don’t even know where to begin. At first I thought this was the meanest, it took me a few weeks to learn the elected officials at Guilford County and that was after I was hired! But on the other hand, it’s a good thing to know and would show how familiar a candidate is with the organization or how well they studied. I’m in, I think we should ask it… but maybe only to name one elected official.


Gotta love a word cloud

My pits are still a little sweaty (don’t judge), but our presentation went great! Thanks to everyone that has come up and asked questions, shared stories and told us how much they enjoyed it – check it out here. Although the polling feature didn’t go quite as planned there were some really interesting results. We asked everyone to send in one word to describe how they feel about the “silver tsunami” and the program created a word cloud based on the most popular answers. Here were the results:

silver tsumani word cloud

This is fascinating to me. I feel like most of the articles I’ve read or reactions I’ve seen to the “silver tsunami” are doom and gloom. The articles outline how dire the situation is, how organizations have to do something…. or else! But the results show that there’s another side to this issue. People are excited, maybe nervously so, about the potential openings and opportunities for advancement. OPPORTUNITY is the biggest word in there and that’s exactly how I feel about it, and I think organizations should change their view of it to also think about the retirement wave as an opportunity.

My personal favorite responses were “finally” and “hellyea” – I definitely agree with those sentiments.

The other poll I wanted to highlight was about Pokemon Go, yes the craze sweeping the nation. We used this question to warm up the audience and the results are below:

Screen Shot 2016-07-14 at 11.38.48 AM

I’m definitely a nostalgic millennial so guilty as charged.


Rise and Grind

Started the day off with a nice beach run followed by working on our presentation. Yes that’s a sunrise from the beautiful Wrightsville Beach. We have been editing the presentation at the same time thanks to Google Docs but that means sometimes Kirsten gets a little thrown off by edits that you make leading to…

kirsten presentation editing

We’re really excited about the presentation! We think we’ve done a good job of combining the issue of #13percent with practical solutions for local governments. Here’s a sneak preview (spoiler alert for you NCLGBA attendees):

sneak peek

July 13

Catching Pokemon

First thing I did when we got to our hotel is check for Pokemon, turns out the room is infested with them. Check out what I’ve got so far (here’s hoping for more water Pokemon at the beach). Share the Pokemon you’re seeing around your city with #CityHallPokemon.

Mankey Goldeen


Getting Pumped

Team ELGL is in Wrightsville Beach and between catching Pokemon we’re starting to get pumped for our #13percent presentation tomorrow. After we figured out how to work the radio in our car we listened to some sweet jams. Before Kirsten makes us listen to more AC/DC I wanted to share what I’m listening to:

Gotta start with some Jimmy when you’re at the Beach


Then take it to a local band, like Mount Moriah


Finally gotta get pumped with some Chance the Rapper