One thing the bombings had brought to the city were lots of jobs. Everyone who owned a dump truck, backhoe, skid steer loader, dozier, excavator or most any other kind of construction and demolition equipment was hiring. DH Griffin Companies, the world's second largest demolition contractor and located in Greensboro, was hiring new people faster than any time since having cleaned up after the World Trade Center bombings on 9-11-2001.
But there was also a mass exodus of highly paid college graduates packing up and leaving Greensboro at rates that couldn't be imagined, much less measured. The City's universities, UNCG, NC A&T, Greensboro College, Bennet College and even Guilford Technical Community College were dropping classes in the midst of quarters because professors and instructors were simply packing up their families and leaving town.
Angry and dissappointed students were signing up to go to school in other cities or dropping out altogether.
And it wasn't just a problem for institutions of higher learning. Greensboro's accounting, banking, pharmaceutical and insurance companies of which City leaders had long wooed as the means to economic development were losing key personnel in droves. Anyone who could afford to leave and had no real family ties to the city was soon to be gone.
In only a few months property values all over the city had dropped by 75% or more with no end in sight. Banks were refusing to lend to build anything in Greensboro as insurance companies wanted too much to insure it. Even people with paid off properties couldn't afford insurance premiums that now far exceeded what was once their monthly mortgages.
The people who worked at the new jobs became squatters in the homes abandoned by the brain drain. City staff gave up trying to enforce water and sewer regulations and even Duke Energy employees refused to disconnect illegally installed electrical hook-ups because neither Greensboro Police nor the Guilford County Sheriff's Department had the manpower to protect them.
Besides, the demolition workers were needed to clean up the debris from the almost daily explosions at one small factory or another. And with the factories all closing the demolition workers were quickly becoming the biggest economic driver in what was now a very upside down economy that everyone knew could never be sustained.
There were rumors that some of the demolition workers, themselves trained in explosives, were actually responsible for the explosions-- a means to perpetuate more work for themselves and their employers. Others thought it was Greensboro's homeless veterans who had disappeared from our streets after years of constant harassment by police, downtown business owners and City Council, returning for revenge. Unlike other insurgencies around the world there seemed to be no one group in charge, no ties between the few who were captured and killed. Most seemed not to know the others existed almost as if someone had put something in Greensboro's water supply to drive everyone mad.
In just a few short months the population of Greensboro had fallen from 280,000 residents to 160,000 residents with most of the losses being on Greensboro's once prosperous northwest side. Greensboro's tax base was destroyed, its bond ratings wiped out. Construction on the Steven Tanger Center for the Performing Arts again ground to a halt as Downtown became a ghost town. Billions would be needed to build it all back and Millions of Dollars were leaving every day.
And all it had taken was one man or woman to set off the first bomb.
How much worse could it get? I'm about to tell you in Chapter XVi, Denial.