Editorial: Legislators out of step, Infosys deal shows
Posted July 12
A CBC Editorial: Wednesday, July 12, 2017; Editorial # 8185
The following is the opinion of Capitol Broadcasting Company
Sometimes it’s what ISN’T said that comes across the loudest.
Such is the case with last week’s major job announcement by Infosys. We hope legislative leaders like Sen. Phil Berger, House Speaker Tim Moore, Senate Budget Chairman Harry Brown and House Budget Chairman Nelson Dollar, noticed.
The India-based information technology outsourcing firm is bringing a technology hub to Wake County and will hire more than 2,000 workers over the next four years. The average salary will exceed $72,000 annually.
It’s by far the largest single jobs announcement since the earliest days of Gov. Pat McCrory’s administration in 2013.
Here’s why Ravi Kumar, Infosys president, says he picked North Carolina for the expansion:
- “This was an easy one for us. That’s one of the key reasons why we chose North Carolina – there’s such an excellent ecosystem of colleges and schools.”
- “I’m actually told that Wake County has 500-plus startups. That was a huge attractive value-added proposition for us.”
- “With a talented technology workforce focused increasingly on progressive fields such as advanced manufacturing and clean technology, a diverse economy strong in financial services and life sciences, and a rich talent pool drawn from North Carolina’s many top universities, research institutions and community colleges.”
Infosys will work with the state’s community college system to develop a customized job skills training program.
The firm will also receive a variety of local and state incentives – most tied to performance goals – that are widely used to help recruit new and expanding businesses.
What Kumar didn’t mention were so-called development incentives that our legislative leadership brags about the most: low corporate taxes and low wages. Those factors didn’t seem to matter to Infosys, yet the General Assembly continues down that tax-cutting path. What’s worse are budget provisions that attack the very strengths that attract new and expanding companies to North Carolina.
Hallmarks of the legislature’s recently-passed budget are less-than-adequate funding – even some cuts -- to public higher education, community colleges and public schools. There is weaker regulation of labor conditions, attacks on clean technologies and energy and weaker environmental regulation that threatens North Carolina’s quality of life.
Effective business leaders looking to expand in the 21st century seek to invest in their workforce and provide a workplace that promotes achievement and quality while they take pride in the companies they run.
All of this is quite contrary to what the N.C. Chamber of Commerce pushes in its legislative agenda as it seeks to prop up the legislative leaders who back it.
North Carolina’s formula for economic success isn’t any secret, but one thing is very clear – that formula isn’t the near-sighted mantra droned-on by the legislative leadership.
It is just as Infosys’ Kumar stated:
- Support quality public education, from pre-K through the university
- Provide a business climate that encourages innovation and expansion.
- Encourage a diverse economy, including clean industries that provide opportunity and help the labor force expand.
Legislative leaders need to move out of the General Assembly’s ideological echo chamber and start to listen to those like Ravi Kumar, who are driving growth and investing in North Carolina.