The state’s economic development picture has seen shakeups in recent years, from the privatization of the N.C. Department of Commerce to film industry grant cuts, the loss of regional development partnerships and last year’s tourism and re-branding campaign.
Many groups, from trade industries to local chambers of commerce, have listed a stronger JDIG (Job Development Investment Grant) Program as one of their priorities this session. That program funds incentives to lure companies to North Carolina.
The N.C. Economic Developers Association’s priority is establishing a low- or no-interest state loan program that city and county governments can use to build industrial parks or facilities.
Ernie Pearson, president of the association, said many struggling areas don’t have the infrastructure needed to attract businesses nor the means to build that infrastructure – which is where state loans come in.
“It lets counties that have limited financial reach get into the game,” he said.
After the fallout from the controversial LGBT law passed last month, several concerts, conventions, film projects and business expansions canceled.
It’s unclear whether the N.C. Economic Development Partnership might receive increased tourism and marketing funding to counter that fallout. The nonprofit handles those duties for the state, but Executive Director Christopher Chung said it’s prohibited from lobbying. State commerce officials did not respond to requests for comment about their legislative priorities.
Doran: 919-836-2858; Twitter: @will_doran