Economic Opportunities and Job Creation
Eastern North Carolina faces economic challenges that are unique within the State. Edgecombe County regularly posts an unemployment rate close to 12% (3rd highest in the State) while Martin County continues to have a higher than State’s average unemployment rate of 7.5%
Historic job losses, particularly in traditional markets such as agriculture and manufacturing, have brought the area to its knees. The economic downturn experienced by the nation as a whole beginning in 2008 was already underway here in Eastern North Carolina and continues.
As a business owner for the past thirty years, I know full well the impact of high unemployment on our local economies. The loss of mid-level and executive jobs has deeply cut into the economic fabric of this area. Small businesses are now the economic drivers. We must find ways to encourage new economic opportunities for small business owners and to uncover new, nontraditional economic opportunities in service businesses, including tourism, agriculture and technology based initiatives.
As a lifelong resident of Edgecombe County, this is personal to me. My passion for my hometown and Eastern North Carolina, coupled with my history of service within the region drives me to want to bring new opportunities to the region and to work tirelessly to achieve this goal. We have made improvements to the infrastructure needed to encourage business growth; our community colleges and universities are working more closely with industry in the area of job stills training than ever before.
Both Edgecombe and Martin Counties have placed an increased emphasis on tourism economic development and have created viable long range plans to increase this area of our regional economy. We need to do more, to reach further into our imaginations for both opportunities and solutions to the issues facing this area.
We have many of the resources needed for new economic opportunities. We must also have the will to create them and to sustain them.
As a former school board member, father and grandfather, I know that a sound, growing and exciting North Carolina depends on investments made in education. North Carolina enjoys a long and storied history of educational advancement and investment. These investments have been made into the people of North Carolina and these investments need to grow and increase, especially in the near term.
Improvements in education begin at the grassroots level – in the local schools – and are of vital importance in today’s economic climate. If we don’t adjust the curriculum to meet today’s advancements in technology and return to a commitment in job skills training, it is our children who will suffer the long term consequences. Traditional blue collar jobs and on-the-job-training are almost a thing of the past. We must bring our education systems inline with today’s job skills in technology, in medicine, in agriculture and in service businesses.
There are many important issues facing educators – teachers and administrators alike – that need to be addressed. I have made improvements in education a lifelong commitment and will continue to so do.
In 2013, North Carolina refused federal funds to expand health care access to 500,000 low-income North Carolinians. As a result of this decision, thousands of working families and seniors across the state may have limited access to health care.
The State’s Medicaid system needs study and reform, yes, but this decision makes healthcare less available to working poor, college students and seniors while the overall issues are addressed. Studies indicate that people who fall into the gap of coverage will be more likely to go without medications and preventative tests.