10 Reasons to Hate New Carolina’s Report

The NerveAttempting to limit yourself to just 10 reasons to hate the latest New Carolina annual report is like trying to milk a fish. Nevertheless, without further ado we present the following:


10. The inane claptrap found in the organization’s “manifesto,” located on the cover of the report, such as “We, the tenacious people of New Carolina, declare independence from mediocrity,” and “With tireless passion, bold leadership and decisive action, we will silence the nay-sayers, the doubters, the critics.” If this silly sounding tripe weren’t enough, it’s composed in the handwriting of nine different individuals, making it about as visually appealing as an income tax return.


9. The manner in which New Carolina measures its self-contrived “South Carolina’s statewide cluster status.” New Carolina is all about “clustering,” the economic development concept pushed by Harvard professor Michael Porter. Having highlighted several potential clusters, ranging from automotive to textiles (and even including recycling), New Carolina proclaims in its report, “We measure our clusters by looking at how they add value to existing economic development efforts, and how far along the continuum to actualization they have come.” The continuum to actualization? Such squishy measuring devices enable New Carolina to tell potential donors that more work always remains to be done and, therefore, more money is always needed.


8. The verbiage used to measure cluster progress: “mobilize,” “analyze” “catalyze,” “realize,” and “actualize.” While all would be great words for Scrabble or a feel-good therapist, they’re just about useless for determining economic development, which may be why New Carolina glommed onto them in the first place.


7. The full-page photographs of individual New Carolina board members. A key rule when it comes to putting together big, expensive reports: If you don’t have much to say, throw in fancy photographs and make them as big as possible. Of the 21 pages found online in the 2008 annual report, 10 are individual full-page photos of board members, with a quote from each superimposed on the bottom. And on the table of contents is Executive Director George Fletcher holding his granddaughter. The entire piece is little more than a very expensive pat on the back by New Carolina to itself.


6. The obvious staging of the photos. Of the 10 full-page photos, nine feature individuals gesturing with their hands out in front of them. What spontaneity!


5. The softball queries posed to New Carolina leaders in question-and-answer pieces, like this one for Council Member Paula Harper Bethea: “What keeps you involved and excited?” Perhaps it was expecting a bit much to see an inquiry along the lines of, “Aren’t New Carolina board members embarrassed by the fact that the organization has received so much public money and has so little to show for it?”


4. The self-aggrandizing responses to those questions, such as Bethea’s answer to the above: “We aren’t doing this for us. New Carolina is not for today. It’s a journey.” In reality, if they weren’t doing it for themselves, their pictures and quotes wouldn’t be plastered all over the annual report.


3. The longwinded statements that don’t say anything, like this from “Cluster Champion” Pete Ashi: “Because clustering has been promoted so heavily, I think that the synergy and the leverage are definitely there. The parts create a larger and stronger whole. New Carolina represents to this economy not what we are today, but what we really can become. They’re working on the future initiatives to make this a world class economy.” Yes, there’s plenty of buzzwords in that paragraph, but good luck trying to actually find any meaning in it.


2. That the annual report includes a list of donors that features several public entities, including the University of South Carolina, Trident Tech and the S.C. State Ports Authority. And Clemson is particularly supportive. Not only does the school itself give to New Carolina, but the organization was also sponsored by the Clemson University Foundation, the Clemson College of Business and Behavioral Science, and the Clemson College of Engineering and Science. It’s good to see that organizations that are often bleating for more funding have money to throw away on something as frivolous as New Carolina.


1. The fact that the General Assembly has allocated hundreds of thousands of dollars to New Carolina over the past few years – at least $800,000 – so it’s likely that each and every taxpaying South Carolinian has helped fund this all-style, no-substance marketing extravaganza, put out by an all-style, no-substance organization.


Reach Dietrich at (803) 779-5022 or kevin@scpolicycouncil.com.