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Our Opinion: The price is right?
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Our Opinion: The price is right?

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Does everything Harold Martin touch turn to Aggie blue and gold? Probably not.

But a lot of it does.

Martin’s extraordinary run as chancellor of his alma mater, N.C. A&T, continued with the announcement last week of a record-shattering fundraising campaign.

A campaign that initially aimed for an $85 million target more than doubled it, bringing in $181.4 million in cash donations and pledges.

In fact, that total appears to be the largest fundraising result ever for a historically Black public college or university.

And it speaks to the university’s soaring national profile.

Clearly the biggest gift in the campaign was the largest individual donation in A&T history, $45 million from philanthropist MacKenzie Scott. But even without that gift, the campaign would have broken records.

Significantly, 70% of the 21,305 donations and pledges came from A&T graduates. That speaks to Martin’s ability to build strong relations with alumni even as he was prodding the university to rethink some of its traditions. Thirty-five gifts were for $1 million or more.

Some of the money will pay for 270 new scholarship funds, including the February One Scholarship, which honors the four A&T freshmen who began the historic Woolworth sit-in protests.

That it comes during a time when COVID has cast a worldwide shadow makes this unprecedented success for A&T all the more impressive.

Among some other recent headlines with big numbers in them:

A parting giftThe Community Foundation of Greater Greensboro has received the largest in its history, $50 million, to create an endowment for improving and expanding local eldercare and health care facilities.

The bequest comes from local businessman Charles L. “Buddy” Weill Jr., who died in 2020 at 95 years old.

Weill, a Greensboro native, owned Weill Investment Co. and was president and CEO of Robins & Weill Inc. He also was deeply involved in his hometown.

Weill had an abiding concern for the care of the elderly, and left behind his enduring gift to help.

Better late ...After what seemed like a small eternity, the Guilford County commissioners in April authorized spending $300 million in voter approved bonds to build new schools and make overdue improvements on others.

You could argue that even $300 million is too little: The total cost of the actual needs is $1.6 billion. (For some reason, a previous commissioners board put the much smaller amount on the ballot.)

And too late: The need for the bonds was first broached in 2016. And the average construction date of a Guilford County school building is 1966.

But judging from the reactions of school officials, it was Christmas Day all over again.

At least we’ve begun to chip away at this mountain.

Apple of our eye

Meanwhile, North Carolina has landed a coveted new Apple campus in Research Triangle Park that will employ a workforce of 3,000 at an average salary of $187,000 a year.

The massive, $1 billion investment will include $552 million for the campus itself. The company also plans to spend an additional $448 million to expand its data center in Catawba County, though no new jobs will be created there. (What wouldn’t we give for a fraction of this kind of an investment in the Triad.)

“North Carolina’s competition for the project was primarily Ohio,” Mark Poole of the state commerce department told The (Raleigh) News & Observer. “But there were a number of other states considered.”

Incidentally, as is usually the case with such announcements, there were some, uh, considerable shipping and handling costs.

Apple will receive a state Jobs Development Investment Grant of $845.8 million to be paid over 39 years, by far the largest such grant in North Carolina history.

There are the jobs at very high salaries. There is the cachet Apple’s presence may give the state in luring other tech firms. There is the impact on the state’s tax base, including $112.4 million from state income taxes paid by Apple’s new employees, which go to a fund that will pay for roads, bridges, broadband, and other infrastructure needs in rural areas.

There is the fact that the campus will run on 100% renewable energy.

Does Apple’s long-term value to the state makes this a solid investment? Absolutely.

Does Apple really need a jobs grant from the state? Absolutely not.

But that’s the way of the world these days. You don’t pay, you don’t play.

The price of freedom

Ronnie Long, 65, served the better part of his life, 44 years, in prison after a wrongful conviction for rape.

Long is suing the city of Concord and a group of several former and current members of the city’s police for mishandling his case. Police withheld evidence that may have cleared Long during his 1976 trial. Long’s case also was marred by jury tampering.

Long was released in September after a federal court overturned his conviction. He also received a pardon from the governor as well as a $750,000 settlement from the state — which comes to about $17,000 for every year he spent in prison.

We don’t know what price tag you place on the injustice done to Ronnie Long.

Whatever the amount his lawsuit may yield, it won’t be enough.

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