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McCrory says he needs more economic development tools

Posted January 5, 2015 3:13 p.m. EST
Updated January 6, 2015 10:14 a.m. EST

— Gov. Pat McCrory told business leaders Monday that he does "not have the tools" needed to recruit new major businesses to North Carolina.  

Lawmakers, he said, need to act in the first two weeks of their legislative session in order to help land "major" businesses considering relocating to the state. 

"I need you to help me work with the General Assembly to get a new strategic program in place, and this has to be done in literally a matter of weeks if we're going to continue to have success," McCrory told executives gathered at an economic forecast forum hosted by the North Carolina Chamber and the North Carolina Bankers Association. "This has to be the No. 1 priority in the first two weeks of this legislative session."

McCrory said he has not been able to make firm offers to companies over the past few months because he did not know what tools would be available to him.

House and Senate lawmakers sparred over an economic development bill at the end of the 2014 legislative session, but it failed among wrangling over a number of matters, some of them unrelated. 

Asked after his speech what he needed lawmakers to do, McCrory said, "At a minimum we need a JDIG bill," referring to a state program that helps companies offset the costs of locating and expanding in the state.

McCrory and recently retired Commerce Secretary Sharon Decker have said that not enough money is set aside in that fund to meet the demands of large-scale employers looking to relocate to the state.

"We have not been able to give an answer on a strategic package for any company that we're talking to at this point in time," McCrory said. 

In 2014, McCrory and Decker said they would pursue a "closing fund," a pot of money that the governor could use to help land a large company, such as an auto manufacturer, whose deal doesn't fit within the normal confines of state economic development deals. 

McCrory demurred when asked if he would again seek such a closing fund.

"We will be talking about some of the things we will be seeking in the very near future," he said, adding that new Commerce Secretary John Skvarla would be making that announcement to legislative leaders.