The NC Chamber unveiled a comprehensive strategy for creating jobs across the state on Wednesday with its “Vision 2030” plan. NCSU economist Dr. Mike Walden likes what he sees but says the “heavy lifting” is still to come.
The core of the strategy rests on four “pillars,” as the Chamber calls it.
Walden, one of the most widely published economists in the state who wrote about North Carolina’s future economic challenges in the 2008 book “North Carolina in the Connected Age,” talked with WRALTechWire about the Chamber plan.
“Yes, the four pillars make sense, but the test will be in the details,” Walden explained.
“Next the Chamber needs to outline specific proposals for education, the business climate, entrepreneurship, and infrastructure. These issues are not new, and many ideas exist for addressing them. And there are certainly challenges along the way.
“For example, to say we need upgraded infrastructure systems is obvious, but how will we pay for them?”
The Chamber realizes the details of the plan remain to be worked out, and its foundation is seeking to raise $15 million to fund further research as well as to hire staff to help put together specific proposals based on data.
Walden said the “heavy lifting” of preparing such proposals won’t be easy. He noted several specific challenges:
”Re-structuring the tax system (a part of the business climate) always has winners and losers.
“To improve educational outcomes, do we spend more per pupil, lower class sizes, add technology, or embrace charter schools?
“Should government be directly involved in promoting innovation, or is innovation something that can’t be planned?”
The easy work is done, Walden added.
“So, in my opinion, the Chamber has done the easy part – identify our challenges and focus on key areas for attention.
“The heavy lifting will be in formulating plans with widespread support that can be politically accepted and implemented.”
But Walden pointed out that the value of what the Chamber is doing shouldn’t be short-changed.
“However, this is a timely effort for the Chamber with Governor Pat McCrory saying he wants to ‘re-brand’ North Carolina and re-structure the state’s economic development efforts,” Walden said.