Note: The Skinny blog is written by Rick Smith, editor and co-founder of Local Tech Wire and business editor of

RALEIGH, N.C. – With the economy continuing to struggle and legislators facing the prospects of more budget cuts, the has its work cut out in advancing a tech-friendly legislative agenda this year.

On Thursday, NCTA’s leadership and many members trooped to downtown Raleigh for their annual “Technology Day” at the General Assembly. After a breakfast sponsored by Cisco, the NCTA team laid out its hopes for the next fiscal year.

Its priorities, as NCTA describes them:

• “Supporting the knowledge economy through various state education strategies

• “Growing the defense and security cluster in North Carolina

• “Encouraging e-citizenry

• “Maximizing use of state information technology funds

• “Making North Carolina a leader in the green economy. “

On point one, NCTA continues to push its technology demonstration projects in schools with the help of federal grants.

Point two is a no-brainer. The continued expansion of Fort Bragg and the increasing importance of the state’s Marine Corp facilities (where Marines’ own special forces are now trained) provide ample opportunity for federal funds as well as for new businesses. The tech business incubator in Fayetteville, which NCTA championed from the start, is an example of how North Carolina can capitalize on the huge military presence here.

North Carolina also is emerging as a “green economy” hub, as was highlighted at NCTA’s recent statewide technology conference. Not enough people are aware of just how big an opportunity the state – especially the Triangle – has to be a leader, just as it is in biotech.

But will their message be heard?

Legislation to approve tax incentives for some new projects, including two data centers, shows the General Assembly is sensitive to the need for new jobs. However, the NCTA agenda clearly is concerned with more than economic recruitment.

In another year of tight dollars, NCTA faces a fight for every scrap of budget it can obtain.

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