THOM 7 | Fall / Winter 2016

ThomArts

PLACEMAKER

Missionary Baptist

Church — and not

just biding time.

An enthusiastic

Young Democrat,

active in sports,

missions and

student council,

he was someone

you’d reasonably

characterize as

being among that

coveted cohort of

people who were

“going places.”

Thus, when

presented with

opportunities

beyond the borders

of Thomasville, he

left.

In the usual telling, this is where the story ends.

Fortunes are followed, lives get built and potential

hometown contributions disappear. A return visit is

made, but by a person valued by others, somewhere

else.

It didn’t quite happen that way with Christopher.

His journey led him to St. John’s University in New

York City, just days before the 9/11 attacks. That

experience, coupled with the context in which it

occurred, became the foundation for his emerging

awareness of the world.

What he began to discover was that increasing

connections, both physical and virtual, are

reordering global commerce and challenging

many long-held notions, for good and bad. The

customer service agent working a phone bank in

India; produce from South America; the shirt you’re

wearing, made in a Bangladeshi factory; and sadly,

the dispersed nature of terrorism all demonstrate a

broad but interconnected system of production and

distribution, presenting tremendous implications for

diaspora back into smaller cities like Thomasville.

“We’re in a smaller world now,” Christopher says.

“And we need to be better prepared for that.”

When geographical barriers crumble and business

is conducted with the rapidity of bits and bytes,

the playing field gets leveled. In a world of greatly

expanded potential markets, you need not be a big

player to enter the game. When fast and reliable

shipping routes can get your products out in

short order, where your goods originate becomes

considerably less critical.

As this happens, the larger players can no longer

monopolize markets or the fresh talent that they

typically lure into major metropolitan areas with

job opportunities. Today’s graduates can work from

anywhere and thus live where they choose.

For communities looking to prosper, the challenge

comes in turning themselves into appealing choices.

More and more, cities are looking to keep or call

back their talent by building places with the ability

to compete into the next century, where strong local

economies emerge from a deeply interconnected

sense of community.

Coming to this realization is what ultimately

led Christopher to the directorship at LOCUS, a

network of future-focused real estate developers

and investors, chasing the promise of more lasting,

livable, lovable places.

LOCUS — the Latin for “place” — works to remove

the bureaucratic barriers preventing the compact,

walkable development that people increasingly seem

to want, which supports strong, local economies — a

Herculean task of sorts, and one where Coes finds

himself driving change in places all around the

country.

Places like Thomasville.

Through his work, which includes Congressional

lobbying, he creates bridges to Federal resources —

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