Economic development overhaul is troubling

Jun 04, 2013

Leaders in Raleigh are moving swiftly to dismantle the economic development model in North Carolina and replace it with a one centralized in the N.C. Department of Commerce.

There are two obvious concerns for western counties if this strategy is implemented. First off, the legislature hasn’t exactly treated local governments as much of a partner as it moves to consolidate decision-making and power in Raleigh.

The second reason for concern would be your gut reaction to the following statement: I’m from Raleigh, and I’m here to help. If you feel queasy just reading this aloud, trust your instincts. Even local legislators tell us that Raleigh folks seem to think the state line ends at Charlotte.

Part of the new economic development model is to replace the current public/private partnership efforts tailored to specific regions with a state approach. Locally, the regional effort is AdvantageWest. The organization has a good track record, and those on the front lines of economic development call the agency an effective tool to bring new business to the area and expand or nurture home-grown businesses, which are becoming the cornerstone of our economy. The state agency that’s been valuable to rural counties is the Rural Center, and its funding is on the chopping block as well.

It would be a pity if the known successes of AdvantageWest and The Rural Center are cast aside while the state funds being put to good use regionally are funneled into commerce department coffers where the outcome is an unknown. Take a moment to express your concerns to legislators.

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