Southbound - Winter 2023

Southern Innuendo Stew

By Michael Randle, Editor

I write all the time that the phrase “The New South” is 40 years old, but the media — especially the standard Asian media business model and business news reported by CNN, CNBC, Fox, whatever — loves to continue labeling the South as “The New South.” 

I assume that when people describe the vibrant and beloved Southern region of the U.S. — particularly writers who have never set foot in the South — they presume that we are still a backwater like that of the mid-1800s to, say, the 1950s. 

FYI, there ain’t no more “Uncle Tom’s Cabin.” It is not a tourist attraction here in the region. It was an anti-slavery novel written by American author Harriet Beecher Stowe, published in two volumes in 1852.

“The New South” and its economy emerged and blew away the entire world in 1972, or at least by 1982. Get it right, or do not write it.

“The New South?” Really? Apparently y’all have never been to Austin, Charlotte, Nashville, or much less monster economies like Atlanta, Northern Virginia, Dallas-Fort Worth, Houston and other mega-economies like Tampa Bay and South Florida in the region.

And let’s not forget the mid-major economies in the South such as Birmingham, Greenville, Louisville, Raleigh, Jacksonville, Little Rock, Richmond and New Orleans, among many more in the region. Throw in a few dynamo small markets like Huntsville, the Space Coast in Florida and Charleston, S.C., and it is easy to understand that the South’s economy is a mile wide and a mile deep. Those metros and others lead the nation in so many economic categories.

So, when, really, did “The New South” emerge? Try the early 1960s when the Atlanta airport became the first mega-airline hub in America. That was the first “New South” thingy. That was exactly 60 years ago.

Change the dang headline to “The South Rules the World” when it comes to economic development and a generational change in the worldwide economy.

The American South (not “The New South”) is the third largest economy in the world based on GDP, double that of the Midwest’s, only behind the U.S. and China’s gross product by value.

Hear that Notre Dame, you Michigan toothy mammals that no one has ever seen and what the hell is a Buckeye, a badger?

We don’t have badgers down here, but we have ’gators, snakes, bullfrogs, giant snapping turtles and ’possums. They are so yummy, especially in what I call “Southern Innuendo Stew.” Goes great with poke salad and a Grapico!

So, let’s get the data right and retire the phrase “The New South” for once and for all. The 13-state Southern region has been beating the stew out of all of the other three regions in the U.S. in GDP and positive demographics for decades. We have earned the phrase, “The Economic Engine of the United States.”

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