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Short Stack: 'The wisest course' for Guilford College
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SHORT STACK

Short Stack: 'The wisest course' for Guilford College

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HondaJet EliteS (copy)

The HondaJet Elite jet, which was developed, tested and is now built in the Triad.

Brief takes on the news, quick and over easy:

By their nature Quakers are a reflective and deliberative community, which means they tend not to hurry when making big decisions.

The American Friends Service Committee explains on its website: “Quaker decision-making is grounded in the belief that when several people come together to labor in the Spirit they can discern a truth that exceeds the reach of any one individual. In making decisions Friends do not simply vote to determine the majority view, but rather they seek unity about the wisest course of action.”

But once the course has been charted, well, that’s another matter.

More than a month before it was scheduled to end, Guilford College already has met the goal of a critical fundraising campaign.

The venerable private Quaker institution in west Greensboro had set out to stabilize its fragile finances with an ambitious $6 million fundraising campaign.

That target amount was a stretch, to be sure.

Suzanne Whitmeyer, who headed the campaign’s fundraising committee during the first half of this year, told the News & Record’s Jessie Pounds that the goal had felt “a little aggressive.”

Guilford’s interim president, Jim Hood, agreed. “I had a few moments of pause to think about whether we would be able to get that far,” he told the News & Record.

But nothing ventured …

The money provides some breathing room when Guilford’s new president, Kyle Farmbry, officially starts Jan. 1.

Guilford’s financial problems stemmed from a number of factors: the ravages of COVID, declining enrollment, debts incurred by physical improvements to the campus.

Under a previous interim president, Carol Moore, Guilford had planned deep cuts to faculty and majors that angered students and alumni.

Once, however, a different path was chosen — a voluntary early-exit program offered to tenured faculty and voluntary offers by other faculty to take less pay in exchange for lighter workloads — the Guilford community seemed both galvanized and reenergized.

Faculty layoffs were avoided in 2021. And the pace and success of the fundraising effort exceeded almost anyone’s expectations.

More challenges lie ahead. But so far, so good.

As became clearer and clearer during the unrest earlier in the year, the broader Guilford community had simply wanted a stronger voice in the plan for long-term survival.

Remember: “In making decisions Friends do not simply vote to determine the majority view, but rather they seek unity about the wisest course of action.”

Now that it has one, the results speak for themselves.

Honda takes flight

More good news in a year that is ending in a gust of optimism for the Triad economy:

As the News & Record’s Richard Barron reported Tuesday, Greensboro-based Honda Aircraft Co. has sold and delivered its 200th HondaJet Elite.

Cool, sleek and compact, the little plane that could was developed and built from the ground up in North Carolina. The Elite costs more than $5 million a pop, so you’re not likely to see one parked in a neighborhood driveway (depending, of course, on your neighborhood).

But it probably could fit in one.

The Elite is built for efficiency and practicality and has found a market among such customers as air taxi services, companies that sell ownership shares of jets and very well-off individuals.

Described by Honda officials as “a sports car in the sky,” the HondaJet Elite can seat as many as seven passengers. Its engines are mounted in its wings to conserve space for people and cargo.

During the design and testing phase of the aircraft several years ago, we boarded one of the prototypes. The cabin is snug but comfortable. We could see the possibilities.

Speaking of possibilities: Now that the HondaJet Elite has a firm foothold in the market, with certification in 13 countries, the company is planning the next iteration: the HondaJet 2600 Concept, which would fly nonstop across the country and seat 11.

Meanwhile, anticipation is building for an official announcement that a supersonic passenger jetliner manufacturer, Boom Supersonic, will build a plant here on 1,000 acres near PTI Airport, a potential $500 million investment that could create at least 1,750 jobs.

Called the Overture, the new aircraft would succeed the Concorde SST, which was discontinued because it was too expensive to ride and too impractical to fly.

The aerospace industry in the Triad has been a formidable presence all along. Airport-related employment in the Triad has grown from 4,500 a decade ago to about 8,600, Brent Christensen, CEO of the Greensboro Chamber of Commerce, told the Guilford County commissioners last week.

Now, if Boom does indeed land here as we hope, the “aerotropolis” at PTI Airport appears poised to fly even higher and faster.

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