Northeastern North Carolina is not an easy part of the state or nation to get a handle on and arms around the challenges it faces. With the recent announcement by Governor Pat McCrory to do economic development differently and do it within the context of a public private partnership must include rural and rural distressed community models. Regions like northeastern North Carolina want to move forward and not be looked upon as the “drag” on the state’s economy. It does not want to be considered a region of beggars and misfits as I’ve read, seen and heard such comments over a number of years. Governor McCrory, with the same zeal he used in announcing a “Partnership for Prosperity”, the same commitment must be used to confront, address and acknowledge that rural distressed communities MUST be seen as partners in this process by creating a meaningful framework to host both poverty and prosperity.
One size does not fit all is an analogy that we are all too familiar with. Now must come the transformative nature of that belief. Rural communities that are distressed are in need of strategic options. Square pegs have never fit appropriately round holes… at least not naturally. Neither were they designed to fit. Some economic engines are low hanging fruit; others require a deep dig that is mind bending and gut wrenching- so is the case of northeastern North Carolina. Its poverty has persisted and as persistent as is its poverty, must be policies that reflect no tolerance for further poverty in Northeastern North Carolina.
Nonprofits have always played a key role in distressed communities. When everyone else packs to go home, they remain faithful partners with limited resources. If the Governor’s wish is to move accountability to the private sector, decreasing the need for state appropriation of nonprofit dollars, is to suggest he is either considering the many needs of the poor in his legislation or he has written off the poor as a casualty of elected office.
There is so much good nonprofits do that is beyond the capacity and ability of the private sector. Rural communities in North Carolina and in particular those with a history of persistent poverty, welcomes the Governor’s vision to do economic development differently by constructing a bi-partisan team of its citizens to serve in partnership to create, expand and innovate the economy. It is a hope that such a journey will include all of North Carolina and not just those living in easy places where counting outcomes are done before the first dirt is turned, press conference is held or final deal has been done.
Below, is the text of Governor McCrory’s announcement:
Governor McCrory Launches “Partnership for Prosperity”: A New Economic Development Approach
April 8, 2013 • Jobs and the Economy
Raleigh, N.C. – Governor Pat McCrory announced plans today to pursue a “Partnership for Prosperity,” an effort to change the way we foster economic growth in North Carolina.
New legislation will create a separate nonprofit corporation to center economic development functions for the state. A board of directors, chaired by the governor, will oversee the Partnership and have governance of all recruitment and retention activities. The functions include small business development, entrepreneurship, international investment and import/export, along with travel & tourism.
“We are going to unleash North Carolina’s economic potential with a bold new approach to recruit and retain business,” said Governor McCrory. “The Partnership will allow us to grow more jobs, and better-paying jobs for North Carolina.”
The new partnership will leverage existing state funds to get the private sector more involved in economic development. In the long run, fewer state dollars will be needed to run the programs currently operated by the N.C. Department of Commerce and several non-profit organizations receiving state funding.
“We have to be able to move faster, primarily in terms of job recruiting,” said N.C. Commerce Secretary Sharon Decker. “Our economic development efforts must also recognize that one size does not fit all, and the economies of all communities are important to us.”
Over the next 45 days, the Department of Commerce will develop a plan for the public-private partnership that includes organizational structure, budget and cost projections, as well as a timeline for implementing the reform. Bill Elmore, vice chairman of Coca-Cola Bottling Co. Consolidated, has volunteered to lead the effort in the Department’s restructuring review. The group will also be meeting and seeking input from various stakeholders in the economic development process. Bipartisan legislation will be introduced this week to help shape these changes and get them in place before the end of this year.
“Our current approach to economic development often duplicates efforts, wastes state resources and lacks clear focus,” said Rep. Tom Murry. “I applaud Governor McCrory for supporting the concept of a public-private partnership to address these issues.”