Newly-installed Governor McCrory came to Rocky Mount last Thursday to speak at the 109th Annual Meeting of the Rocky Mount Chamber of Commerce. The event took place on January 31 at the Business and Industry Center of Nash Community College. Several state and local government officials were in attendance, including NC Senators Buck Newton and Angela Bryant and Representatives Collins, Richardson, and Tolson. Several members of Nashville’s Chamber of Commerce, which were introduced as “chamber partners” and the Nashville Town Council were also in attendance at the sold-out event.
Governor McCrory said that he felt close to Rocky Mount and the surrounding area because he had several key staff members from the area, including his Chief of Staff, his Secretary of Office Administration, and State Attorney Roy Cooper.
“When I was here for the debate in October, you probably thought that we would never come here again,” McCrory said. “But I plan to come here again and again. You have a coalition of leaders here that is second to none.”
McCrory said, that as the former mayor of Charlotte, he was very supportive of community economic efforts such as the revitalization of Main Street. He also supports economic growth based on the growth of the private sector rather than government.
“My goal is to complement the work of the private sector even if it means that government has to get out of the way,” he said. “We should be treating companies as customers, not adversaries.”
McCrory said that he was also focused on solving the current unemployment woes that are troubling the state. “North Carolina currently has the fifth highest unemployment rate in the country at 9.3 percent,” he said. “Locally, it is even worse, at 13.8 percent,” McCrory commented. “We have a lot of people hurting. We are not here just to solve problems, but to create opportunities.”
However, McCrory also announced that he would have to begin to make some tough choices in order to protect the state long-term. “I support a total reform of how we operate the unemployment and insurance here in the state,” he said. “I do not plan to extend the employment benefits from July to January as we have done in the past. I feel that that has only contributed to the problem. We need to focus on getting people back to work.” McCrory said that the state now owes roughly two and a half million dollars to the federal government for unemployment benefits and could not continue to operate effectively under such a debt load.
McCrory also plans to revamp the Medicaid system in the state. “Our system is broken,” he said. “We spend too much on fraud and administration. We need to spend less on administration and make sure more gets to the people who need it. The status quo is not acceptable.”
He also feels that the tax system of the state needs to be reformed as well. “We need to decrease our income and corporate taxes in order to compete with our neighboring states,” he said. “They are stealing our industries. We need to change to adapt to survive in a competitive world.”
McCrory feels that the exploration and development of energy resources in the state and off-shore would also provide long-term solutions to the flagging economy. “This would help with our energy independence and job creation,” he said. “If we do it right, it would be environmentally safe and would help our economy.”
McCrory ended his remarks by announcing his appointment of the Honorable Jim Gardner of Rocky Mount as his new Chairman of the Alcohol and Beverage Control Commission.
“I have not forgotten Rocky Mount,” McCrory concluded. “I am surrounding myself with some of the best people from here.”