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Tillis right to push airport bill changes

Thank goodness for N.C. House Speaker Thom Tillis.

We haven’t agreed with Tillis on much, especially as he’s helped lead the legislature toward unwise changes that could be detrimental to the state’s long-term prosperity and to the present-day lives of many North Carolinians, particularly the most vulnerable.

But we welcome his voice in the governance struggle over Charlotte Douglas International Airport. Last week, he pledged to work on a bill creating a regional authority to oversee the airport “that makes sense,” one in which the city of Charlotte has a “very weighted presence.”

We still think the strident legislative push to take governance away from the city and give it to an authority seems preemptive and unnecessary. Under the city’s governance, the airport has been extremely successful. Removing it from city control takes away a level of accountability that seems prudent.

Still, the move toward an authority appears on the path to reality, especially after city-funded consultant Bob Hazel recommended the authority. Hazel, a former US Airways vice president, has rightly come under criticism after admitting that he thought even before he did his study that airports should be run like businesses and he favored airport authorities.

Hazel did say a Charlotte authority should include mostly appointments from Charlotte, Mecklenburg County and other local organizations. Surrounding counties should have limited representation, he said. The state doesn’t need any.

That’s where Tillis is on the issue too – though he left open the possibility that no vote on an authority might happen this year. He said lawmakers could create a committee to further study the issue.

That would be preferable. But if an authority is destined, Tillis should stand firm for a bigger voice for Charlotte.

Global outlook at CPCC

A pat on the back also goes to Central Piedmont Community College President Tony Zeiss and others.

CPCC last week celebrated the first students to go through a unique training program that seems likely to make Charlotte an even more attractive place for German investment.

The college partnered with IHK Karlsruhe, a German regional chamber of commerce, to create the program, which was the first of its kind in America. It trains students to exact German specifications so that German companies can confidently hire CPCC students and know they have the same level of expertise as workers trained in Germany.

The first students took classes in three programs: Programmable Logic Controller Technology, Computer Numerical Control Machining Technology and Energy Management.

Fifty-eight companies based in or near Karlsruhe have Charlotte-area operations. About 200 German companies operate in the Charlotte area and about 500 in the Carolinas. In an increasingly global economy, initiatives like CPCC’s will help keep Charlotte prominent in German executives’ minds as they decide where in the U.S. to do business.

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The Charlotte Observer welcomes your comments on news of the day. The more voices engaged in conversation, the better for us all, but do keep it civil. Please refrain from profanity, obscenity, spam, name-calling or attacking others for their views.

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