McCrory seeks to privatize much of Commerce Department

Posted April 8, 2013

— Gov. Pat McCrory said Monday that he wants to create a nonprofit to handle North Carolina's economic development efforts.

The Partnership for Prosperity, headed by a board of directors that McCrory would chair, would oversee small business development, entrepreneurship, international investment, imports and exports and travel and tourism.

Commerce Secretary Sharon Decker said many details of the nonprofit won't be worked out until June, but McCrory said it will be more competitive than the current system, where state, regional and nonprofit efforts are not coordinated.

"The customer is very confused on how recruitment is actually being done because we have so many different voices speaking from North Carolina and it's not always the same message," he said. "It makes negotiations extremely difficult against other states."

The Division of Employment Security, which handles unemployment claims, won't be privatized under the proposal.

The nonprofit will leverage existing state funds to get the private sector more involved in economic development, McCrory and Decker said. Eventually, they said, less state money will be needed to run programs now handled by the Department of Commerce and regional groups that receive state funding.

“We have to be able to move faster, primarily in terms of job recruiting,” Decker said. “Our economic development efforts must also recognize that one size does not fit all, and the economies of all communities are important to us."

Gov. Pat McCrory with Commerce Secretary Sharon Decker Nonprofit to handle NC economic development efforts

Privatization will mean big changes, and McCrory said he is already working with legislative leaders to craft the proposal, which could be introduced this week.

Bill Elmore, vice chairman of Coca-Cola Bottling Co. Consolidated, has volunteered to lead the restructuring in the coming months. His group will meet with and seek input from various business groups and North Carolina's education system.

Officials will conduct a national search for the chief executive of the Partnership for Prosperity.

"There are going to be a lot of people out there who are going to want to keep the status quo, and as I say and Sharon says, if we keep the status quo, we will get the same results. It's time for change," McCrory said.

The plan was unveiled at Copland Fabrics, a textile-maker near Burlington that exports most of its fabric to Central and South America.

McCrory said the company provides a blueprint for the state's future – an economy based on manufacturing exports and agribusiness.

Chief Executive Jason Copland, the fourth-generation leader of the company, said he appreciates that McCrory wants to help existing North Carolina employers as much as those the state is trying to recruit.

"Where do a lot of the jobs, the new jobs, where they're grown from, it's actually existing businesses," Copland said. "So, just to hear them say that and a recognition that we're here working hard and doing everything we can to try to help people in North Carolina, It was nice to hear."


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  • goldenosprey Apr 9, 2013

    "in just the past month the taxpayers are giving MetLife $100 million and the Carolina Panthers $125 million." uBnice

    Surely, they'll be drug-tested.

  • free2bme Apr 9, 2013

    NC continues to lag in a lot of things. The main one is good leadership. NC citizens continue to pay high taxes and fees, deal with one of the higher UE rates in the country but no one cares. McCrory and the GOP Legislature were quick to discontinue estate taxes which cut needed tax revenue for NC because it affected them and their rich friends. The rich has been their main focus and the only people they continue to look out for.

  • uBnice Apr 9, 2013

    There is a lot of money to be made off of taxpayers. I mean, in just the past month the taxpayers are giving MetLife $100 million and the Carolina Panthers $125 million.

  • goldenosprey Apr 9, 2013

    "Plus this gets special interest groups out of the state government"


  • bill0 Apr 9, 2013

    "Bill, we still have one of the highest UE rates in the nation and the SE! How is that a "working system" when we are lagging the recovery?"

    Because it isn't the roll of government to insure full employment.

    NC is lagging the recovery because of our mix of business, not our lack of government action. As a growth area, we were overly reliant on construction. That is just automatically going to lag the broader recovery.

  • davidgnews Apr 9, 2013

    Fox, meet the hen house.

  • Scubagirl Apr 9, 2013

    McCrory and cronies will decide how this should be??? AND be the BOD....sounds potentially BAD to me.

  • publicassistance Apr 9, 2013

    "Why exactly do we want to change that? Since it is a government agency, I'm sure there are things that could be cut or done better, but why would you want to scrap a working system?" - bill0

    Bill, we still have one of the highest UE rates in the nation and the SE! How is that a "working system" when we are lagging the recovery?

    We are losing projects to SC and VA every month. NC cannot just "wait and see" and resto on our past laurels....

  • admyank Apr 9, 2013

    Plus this gets special interest groups out of the state government

  • admyank Apr 9, 2013

    I think it is a great idea.

    The government is not the answer for controlled commerce.