Hitting the Sweet Spot
North Carolina's diversified economy is picking up steam, though a panel of state leaders finds the divide between urban and rural fortunes perplexing.
With its unemployment rate sliced by more than 40% over the past four years and five straight years of growth, North Carolina has shared in the U.S. economic rebound. Business North Carolina gathered a panel of state leaders to discuss the state's prospects in 2015. Campbell University’s Lundy-Fetterman School of Business sponsored the discussion, held at the university’s law school in Raleigh. The N.C. Association of Realtors and N.C. Railroad Company provided additional support. BNC publisher Ben Kinney moderated the discussion. Comments were edited for brevity and clarity.
Here are a few highlights of the Business NC Roundtable at Campbell University. A more complete transcript can be found here.
What has been the impact of tax reform?
Lewis: We set out with a goal to try to make North Carolina’s tax system more fair, more transparent and easier to understand. There is uniform agreement that the tax code needs to be reformed. Everyone wants to help do that as long as you leave their one particular special tax treatment alone. So we think the way to make North Carolina a better place for working families and job creators is to make sure we don’t have the highest tax rates in the Southeast. We used to, but now we have brought our tax rates much more in line with other states, with most job creators paying 5.75% now, compared with 7.75% in the past. People see that, and because they have more money to spend, our sales-tax collections are up more than we projected. When people have money in their pocket, they tend to spend it.
What about the importance of community colleges and universities?
Loyack: One of the key partners for economic development is the community-college system. To go to any business in the state and offer customized workforce-development programs is something that isn’t available everywhere in the U.S. I’d like to see us invest more in this.
Lewis: Our larger, more research-oriented universities have really been incubators, creating new products and new ideas. The universities have been remarkable in not just training folks to go out and work, but in actually creating jobs themselves.
Saylor: We have a potential rail project involving a biotech firm that employs more than 500 people in the rural communities. N.C. State University is doing a logistics study to determine whether it’s going to work.
All content is from Business NC and can be found on their website here.