Goodman: Job creation, economic recovery is top priority

RALEIGH — Members of the Main Street Democrat Legislative Caucus today called on the Speaker of the House Tim Moore and Senate President Pro-Tem Phil Berger to provide the state’s citizens with a clear-cut vision for economic development in the state.

The Raleigh Report by Rep. Ken Goodman

Rep. Ken Goodman

“The Republicans are having an internal policy debate while our neighboring states are actively recruiting new industries and companies out from under us,” said Rep. Ken Goodman.  “We say we are open for business but are we really competing right now?  Most business and economic developers will tell you that North Carolina doesn’t have a clear-path forward on the job recruitment front.”

Sen. Jane Smith, of Robeson County, said her county recently lost a substantial economic recruit because the state could not offer Job Development Investment Grants (JDIGs).   “We need leadership and we need vision,” Smith said.  “Our inability to compete is costing rural North Carolina new jobs and critically needed growth opportunities.”

“Over the past year, we have lost Mercedes Benz, Continental Tire, Volvo and Goodyear.  There is a growing concern that North Carolina’s economic development mission is failing because we cannot compete with other states in our region,” Smith said.

“There has been a total reformation of the Commerce Department and we’re not seeing the results that people expected.  It is time for the state to clearly define its plans and objectives for economic development in every county in the state,” said Smith.  “The state legislature really needs to provide a vision for economic growth, development and recruitment in North Carolina.”

Rep. Ed Hanes, of Winston-Salem, said there are several key bills in the General Assembly dealing with jobs and the economy that need attention. Hanes listed several bills that are pending that will make the state more competitive and improve the state’s overall business climate:

H117 – NC Competes Act

S526 – Job Creation & Tax Relief Act of 2015

S338 – Economic Development Tax Modification Bill

S326 – Increase JDIG Program Funding

H920 – Economic Development Improvements

“Last week NC State Economist Michael Walden issued a quarterly economic report showing that our state’s economy had slowed in the first quarter.  The warning was based on several key criteria including unemployment claims, building permits issues and average weekly hours and wages paid in the manufacturing sector.  Dr. Walden reported that the state’s economic index has dropped four out of the last six months,” said Hanes.

“We are not out of the woods yet,” said Hanes.  “Many sectors of our state’s economy are still fighting off the impacts of the recession.  As state leaders, our focus should be on stabilizing the economy for all sectors and all communities.  That begins with having a clear-cut vision of what our economic development plan is going to look like.  Three years ago, the Governor promised a re-branding campaign.  We’re still waiting to see it,.”

“We cannot lose focus on the jobs front because the Republicans want to hash out a philosophical fight on incentives. Do we really want to engage in that debate when we are losing major projects like Volvo and Mercedes Benz, or do we want to compete, to recruit new jobs with high pay wages to our state?   When we say we are open for business, it shouldn’t be a slogan, we should really mean it,” Goodman said.

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