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The Real World: Kannapolis, NC

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By Joseph Beasley, on June 23, 2014

Dirt is moving at the site of Kannapolis' new city hall and police headquarters.
Dirt is moving at the site of Kannapolis’ new city hall and police headquarters.

My time working primarily with the City of Kannapolis has been exciting and real. As I make progress with my internship, the City continues to grow and develop as well. This coming Monday, I’ll transition to the City Manager’s Office in Concord, NC.

Last Tuesday, I sat in on a conference call to Moody’s Corporation with the City Manager of Kannapolis, the finance director, a bank representative, and the City’s financial advisor. The call covered a comprehensive overview of the City of Kannapolis as Moody’s considers issuing the City a new credit rating. Kannapolis has seen its credit rating improve in the recent past. A higher credit rating now would save the City significant money in the long-run as it prepares to finance remaining construction costs for a new City Hall. The overview included everything from current and expected revenues to economic development efforts. Last semester we studied debt financing in Whitney Afonso’s public financial management course. Instead of hypothetically considering things like the remaining fund balance and debt service payments for a class exercise, I was sitting in on a meeting in the real world listening to a discussion that covered those topics. It was a great to hear subjects discussed in class actually being put into practice. I also enjoyed the  lunch that the City’s financial advisor treated us to at Restaurant 46.

Restaurant 46 is only a five minute walk from Kannapolis City Offices. Across the street from the NC Research Campus, the menu offers choices that promote healthy living.
Restaurant 46 is only a five minute walk from Kannapolis City Offices. Across the street from the NC Research Campus, the menu offers choices that promote healthy living.

On Wednesday, I shared my report on buildings and grounds maintenance with City Manager Mike Legg and Deputy City Manager Eddie Smith. I took advantage of several resources to help form my recommendation. I conducted personal interviews with current and former department heads and I was able to apply ICMA survey data on local government service delivery choices. I also applied theories covered in Willow Jacobson’s course on organizational theory. My research and recommendation will help the City Manager’s Office come to a decision as they consider establishing a separate buildings and grounds department or division that is dedicated to the maintenance of all city-owned properties.

Deputy City Manager Eddie Smith has gone above and beyond expectations to ensure that this internship is a true learning experience. I appreciate him welcoming me into the fold and for being a great mentor. I’ve gotten exposure to nearly every department in the city. Not only did I observe how Eddie communicates goals and expectations to department heads, but I also got to personally work with department heads one-on-one. I’ve observed how different each department head can be and the different leadership styles each apply. I faced challenges gathering specific information related to my research from some department heads. Apprehension to share information may be associated with concern of losing control of certain services and staff.

When I haven’t been out in the field with Eddie or away meeting with department heads and staff, I have been at my desk surrounded by the finance department. Aside from Eddie, these are the people I have gotten to know the most during my time in Kannapolis. I have heard all their crazy and distracting stories, listened to their laughs, and at times sensed their stress. They have done a fantastic job taking on the duties of another employee who unexpectedly quit her job just one week into my internship. I know the staff here are ready for a new finance employee to start work next week.

My mother made zucchini bread for me to share with my co-workers at Kannapolis City Offices.
My mother made zucchini bread for me to share with my co-workers at Kannapolis City Offices.

All of the staff at Kannapolis City Offices have been kind to me. They generously gave me a bag full of gear all decked out with the City of Kannapolis logo. The gifts included everything from a leather portfolio to an official City of Kannapolis pocket knife.

Interning close to home allows me plenty of time to visit with family and long-time friends. When my grandfather’s brother visited with a bounty of zucchini from his garden, my mother had an idea. Aware of the wonderful experience Kannapolis has given me, she insisted I share some homemade zucchini bread with the staff here at the City offices. The finance department in turn treated me to a one-of-a-kind lunch at El Amigo – the best Mexican restaurant in town.

Again, the people, the food, and the overall experience in the City of Kannapolis have been amazing. The best part of this public work experience is that this is the real world. I look forward to moving on to the City of Concord and to comparing the organizational structure and culture of the two cities. My next post will cover my first full week with the City of Concord.

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