Outlining a whole list of topics,
members of Western North Carolina’s delegation in the NC General Assembly spoke
to the business community at the Legislative Wrap-Up on Tuesday, Oct. 24.
“We have a real conundrum in our
society – the skills gap,” Senator Chuck Edwards said. “Companies can't find
the labor that they need. It crosses industries. Yet, we have people who need jobs
and need income.”
Supporting local community
colleges and informing higher education of workforce needs can help reduce the
skills gap while also removing other barriers to employment.
Representative Brian Turner cited
his focus as being on what legislature can do to support working families from
addressing education to hunger to domestic violence.
“If people are secure, they can
be more focused on their job,” Turner said.
Senator Terry Van Duyn spoke of
the need to renew focus on healthcare to support families throughout North
Carolina and the importance of investing in early childhood education.
“We have a crisis with
childcare,” Van Duyn said, noting lack of childcare providers, low subsidies
and high need from working families for quality childcare.
Representative John Ager
expressed disappointment that more had not been done in this session to expand
Medicaid, fund education, address environmental issues and more.
“On positive note, I really like
solar bill we passed,” Ager said. “This was nice cooperation between parties
that will result in better organized effort to support and encourage solar
In an effort to address rural/urban
divide, the legislature has made several attempts to put more money towards
rural counties sometimes at the expense of urban counties and often without a substantive for the money. The Asheville Chamber opposed a proposal to redistribute sales
tax that would have been a detriment to Buncombe County. With a ten-county
labor shed and significant tourism traffic, Buncombe County faces some unique
issues and need to maintain infrastructure beyond the needs of its residents.
“We cannot simply divide up
success from urban counties and sprinkle it among the rural counties,” Senator
Van Duyn said. “The way we address it is investment in education, broadband,
infrastructure. We need to invest in rural areas and connect them to urban areas
so we can both prosper.”
Noting bi-partisan agreement on
this issue, Senator Edwards reiterated need to revisit the Tier system
currently used to allocate funding to counties. “We have to find what is unique about the
rural counties to build their economic base or build transportation that
supports access to and from those areas.”
Engaging at the local level
legislators present all noted a variety of big issues they anticipate the NC
General Assembly continuing to engage on in 2018. But, they also encouraged
engagement at the local level, citing the work local organizations are doing to
address needs in the community and advocating for work with local government to
make an impact.
both state and federal changes in taxes for small business may be forthcoming,
Turner suggested changes in regulations, permitting and processes at a local
level can make a real impact on small business finances and ease of doing
we can empower communities to make changes that are positive. To do the better
job to meet needs of their local constituents.”
Chamber’s Vice President of Public Policy, Corey Atkins echoed that sentiment,
saying “Businesspeople can't be apathetic. Go vote. It is important
that we elect people that are business-minded.”
Three seats on Asheville City
Council will be elected in November. Review our candidate survey to see where
candidates stand on issues of importance to the business community.