March 8, 2018

Subsidies Go From Main Street Winston-Salem To Wall Street

The Clearing House viewed from Union Cross Park.

Monday night the city council was happy to approve $147,834 in subsidies to The Clearing House over 5 years. Earlier in the month, the Forsyth County Commissioners approved  $179,038 in subsidies to TCH. State subsidies are yet to be determined. But if The Clearing House expands in Winston it will clear a sizable check from local taxpayers.

Monday’s Winston-Salem City Council meeting was more of a sprint than a marathon. The council’s agenda was short and the city council members didn’t spend much time debating it. The meeting was over in less than 20 minutes.

Winston-Salem City Council Agenda, Monday March 5, 2018

The City’s primary order of business Monday was kowtowing to The Clearing House. Mark Owens-the new CEO of the local Chamber of Commerce spoke in favor of the subsidizing TCH.  To no one’s surprise, Mayor and president of the Winston-Salem Alliance, Allen Joines was an enthusiastic proponent of the subsidizing TCH.

Mayor Pro Tempore Burke spoke of the need to ensure that The Clearing House continues to have a significant minority presence in its Winston-Salem workforce. Councilmember Adams asked that TCH strengthen its ties with the community. Specifically, Adams asked TCH to start an internship program with Winston-Salem State University.

Councilmember Taylor said that The Clearing House’s expansion would be another positive step forward for the Southeast Ward. Taylor equated TCH’s expansion with the work at Quarry Park and Salem Lake-two projects miles removed from TCH’s facility at Union Cross Business Park.

Sadly, no members of the city council or the mayor had any misgivings about funding a corporate conglomerate that doesn’t need our money. No members of the public came forward to object to their tax dollars being wasted during the council’s public comment period. The subsidies that Winston-Salem the City approved would literally take resources from Main Street, Winston-Salem (101 N. Main Street to be exact) and give them to Wall Street.

The Clearing House is a little-known payment processing conglomerate that is owned and operated by a who’s who of the nation’s largest and most notorious banks, including Wells Fargo, Bank of America and BB&T.

The Clearing House is Wall Street, an arm of the “too big to fail” banks that crashed the economy in 07′-08′. These are the same Wall Street banks that continue to practice fraud and deceit with impunity-Wells Fargo, I’m looking at you.

For a corporate-friendly introduction to The Clearing House, watch TCH History – A Look Back or go to their website. Below is the City’s description of TCH and the subsidy it is seeking from Winston-Salem.

The Clearing House is a banking association and payments company. They operate a payment system at the core of the banking industry. They currently have 177 employees in Winston-Salem and are considering expanding their operations by investing approximately $25 million and creating 50 new jobs with an average salary of $98,361.

-City of Winston-Salem, Development Project Analysis Form

The Winston-Salem Journal reported that TCH has previously received over $250,000 in local subsidies. Now they’re back for more. TCH is apparently intent on playing North Carolina against New York to see which state will offer them the most generous subsidy.

The Clearing House - Approve Economic Development Assistance

 

The Clearing House’s Winston-Salem facility is located in a nondescript building at Union Cross Business Park. When you turn into Union Cross Business Park, The Clearing House is the first building on the right. It’s clearly visible from Union Cross Park.

The Clearing House viewed from Union Cross Park.

 

Union Cross Park and Union Cross Business Park are separated by a meager metal fence. Each week hundreds of walkers and runners probably see The Clearing House’s local facility without knowing what it is.

TCH’s proximity to Union Cross Park is a reminder that there isn’t a hard line between public and private ventures these days. Union Cross Park has a clear public benefit, it’s utilized by the community year-round. But by contrast, businesses inside the Union Cross Business Park don’t benefit the public-at least not directly. The profits at TCH go back to New York, they don’t stay in the community.

Why should the taxpayers of Winston-Salem/Forsyth County be subsidizing them? Corporations have to grow and expand, but we don’t have to fund them, especially when we have so much poverty in our community. In the midst of an ongoing opioid crisis, it’s disappointing that the City of Winston-Salem is once again preparing to subsidize corporate America, to the detriment of local residents in need.

In the past Winston-Salem/Forsyth County have funded Dell, Caterpillar, Herbalife and to a smaller extent The Clearing House with mixed results at best. The money that we’ve given these corporations could have been better spent on folks in Winston-Salem.

The jobs that Reynolds, Hanes and other manufacturers once provided for Winston-Salem/Forsyth County are gone. None of the companies that have been recruited in recent years have come close to replacing the factory jobs that were here 20 or 30 years ago.

Everytime that we subsidize corporations to bring in jobs were tacitly admitting that we don’t have a plan to create jobs locally, therefore we must rent the goodwill of corporations that will always look out for their own profits in the end.

Winston is still a company town, even after the companies that defined it have largely moved their jobs elsewhere and greatly diminished their local presence. Instead of subsidizing The Clearing House the City should be subsidizing community co-ops. Corporate jobs aren’t the future. They are precarious at best.

 

 

 

 

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