Economic Interests

Although it may seem unlikely, Economics is also fast becoming an important issue in this controversy. The South in general is now in the midst of a rapid period of industrialization with businesses from all over the world flocking to set up shop there. The South offers relatively cheap labor, cheap land, a mostly non-union work force, a low cost of living, and a comfortable climate. BMW recently built a large plant in Greer, South Carolina along Interstate 85, a highway nicknamed "the Autobahn" for all of its German industry. Tourism is also a lucrative business in the South with its abundant and warm coastal regions. Economic prosperity awaits the South if it can clean up its act enough to ease would be investors' fears of deep-seated racism. In the case of South Carolina, as Daniel Pederson puts it, its bad for business if the state gives the appearance of being the "Cracker Capital of America." The businessmen in South Carolina and across the South have a vested interest in alleviating the racist image of the South. The controversy in South Carolina has gained global recognition, with an article about the Statehouse flag struggle apperaring in the German weekly Der Spiegel in November of 1996. German industry is especially sensitive to problems of racism, given their past and present problems with race at home. As Hunter Howard, president of the South Carolina Chamber of Commerce, illuminates, "Other places have church burnings, but the flag gives the impression that we condone those episodes" (Pederson).