ROCKY MOUNT, N.C. — Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards has opposed the North American Free Trade Agreement, which has taken jobs away from the United States and sent them overseas. Edwards' opponent, John Kerry, has supported NAFTA.
A plan to help correct some of the mess NAFTA left behind is to offer better job training, In North Carolina, that is becoming a major job for community colleges.
High-tech jobs often mean higher pay. But those jobs are getting harder to find.
With thousands of textile workers unemployed, the government knows a solution has to be found. That is why Assistant Commerce Secretary David Sampson and Sen. Elizabeth Dole came from Washington to Rocky Mount on Thursday to present a $1 million check to Nash Community College.
Dole and Sampson agree with the state's vision to turn a now-empty lot into classrooms. The money will help build a center for science and technology and help train workers for good and better jobs.
But what about those out of work? Those who worked at a job for years and are now unemployed -- Where do they turn?
"Your heart goes out to those people who lost their job," Dole said.
Dole and Sampson are convinced President George W. Bush's plan for economic growth is working. They also stand by the president's trade policies of working to "level the playing field" for American workers competing in a global economy.
And while it is not exactly level yet for all North Carolina workers, Sampson said change is coming.
"When American workers can compete on a level playing field, no one can outwork them," Sampson said. "No one can beat an American worker."
Because of all the textile closings, Sampson has made 11 trips to North Carolina in the last three years.