Editorial summary: North Carolina | Raleigh News & Observer
Winston-Salem Journal. December 6, 2021.
Editorial: A megasite jackpot for the whole region
In late 2019 and early 2020, Jim Melvin gave Triad reporters a personal tour of 1,900 acres of rolling hills, woods and farmland, officially known as the Greensboro-Randolph megasite.
Melvin, former mayor of Greensboro and chairman of the Joseph M. Bryan Foundation, was a key player in the creation of the megasite.
And despite a recent failure in finding a tenant for the site, Melvin remained firmly convinced that it would pay off sooner or later, and he wanted us to see up close what still turned him on so much about it.
Then this first planned tour was postponed by bad weather.
As for the second attempt, well, at that point there was COVID.
What do they say about the best-designed plans?
Like those visits, the megasite itself had been a story of detours and delays, and worse still, of hope and sorrow.
The site was assembled through regional cooperation as a ready-made magnet for a new industry. Still, there were nibbles, but no takers.
Then came a serious suitor who had seemed a sure thing. Melvin was almost convinced that a $ 1.6 billion Toyota-Mazda electric car plant would be moving there in 2018. So pretty much we all were. But the companies chose a site near Huntsville, Alabama instead.
We were all dressed with nothing to show for it. Until now.
Toyota and Panasonic confirmed on Monday that they will build a car battery plant at the site.
And even if it’s not the electric car factory that we coveted, it is a battery factory.
for electric cars, which represent a capital investment of $ 1.27 billion and which pays well: an expected median annual salary of more than $ 62,000 for 1,750 jobs between 2025 and 2029.
It gives the Triad and the State a valuable position in the auto industry and it has a future: almost a quarter of the cars Toyota currently manufactures around the world are electrified and it plans to sell up to 1, 8 million vehicles at least partially powered by electricity by 2030.
The project rewards the vision and foresight as well as the courage and patience it takes to play the long game at a time when we want it all and we want it now.
And it’s a major victory for the Triad, not just for Greensboro and Randolph County.
“This project will anchor the entire 17-county region of Carolina,” Loren Hill, director of regional economic development for the Piedmont Triad Partnership, told Randolph commissioners on Monday.
Or, as Greensboro City Council member Nancy Hoffmann said, âCities don’t have fences around them. They shouldn’t either.
Above all, Monday’s good news validates the political and financial bets that Randolph County Commissioners, the Greensboro and Guilford County Government, and community leaders and state officials made on the megasite during the first one.
Much like the Randleman Reservoir that supplies water to Greensboro, High Point, and a host of other communities, it was a heavy haul with many moving parts.
But when the opportunity finally presented itself, they were ready.
So apparently this is the Piedmont Triad International Airport.
Another major employer is said to come to the PTI airport area – an aircraft manufacturer who could create an additional 1,750 jobs for the Triad with an average annual salary of $ 60,000.
The PTI Airport Authority has also tinkered with land nearby to accommodate new industries. We may know more details later this week about the initiative, called âProject Thunderbirdâ.
It would be an additional balm not only for the pain of Toyota-Mazda disappointment, but also for the tens of thousands of Triad jobs lost due to the decline of the tobacco, textile and furniture industries in the Triad. since the 1990s.
If there is one general theme to all of this, it’s that, especially when times are toughest, you have to create your own luck.
Monday’s announcement of the Greensboro-Randolph megasite was a healthy dose of potent medicine for the Triad’s economy.
And who knows? A reminder could follow him soon at the airport.
Charlotte Observer. December 6, 2021.
Editorial: Who can afford to be a state legislator? Not most North Carolinians
North Carolina state lawmakers are pretty busy, but they don’t get paid much. Very few workers can actually afford to run for office – and as a result, their interests are often overlooked in the policy-making process.
At just $ 13,951 a year, North Carolina’s statutory salaries are among the lowest in the country. This figure has not changed since 1995, even as the demands of the job – the time commitment, in particular – have increased. This year’s legislative session, which began in January, was the second longest uninterrupted annual session since at least 1965, the Associated Press reported.
North Carolina has a hybrid legislature, which means it sits somewhere between full-time and part-time. According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, members of a hybrid legislature devote more than two-thirds of a full-time job to the office of legislator.
âThe salary is a problem. The length of the session is an issue. Session length plus salary is a big issue, âsaid Chris Cooper, professor of political science and public affairs at Western Carolina University.
The increasingly tedious legislative timetable has prompted at least one member of the General Assembly to decide not to stand again. Representative Brian Turner, a Democrat from Buncombe County, announced last week that he would not run for a fifth term at NC House.
“During my tenure, I have seen our legislative session lengthen to the point where the October, November and December sessions (well after our scheduled adjournment at the end of June) have become the norm,” Turner said in a statement. published on its website. “It is unbearable.”
For those who live several hours from the state capital, the cost of housing during the session can also add up. Members receive a daily allowance of $ 104 while the legislature is in session, but that barely covers the cost of rent or hotel accommodation these days. For years, some lawmakers, including Turner, have chosen to camp on the state fair grounds.
There is a reason why so many members of the General Assembly are senior lawyers or business owners, work in real estate, or are independently wealthy. There aren’t many jobs that allow someone to spend the overwhelming majority of their time doing other things – and a legislative paycheck alone is barely enough to get one person, let alone of a family, can live. County commissioners and city council members across the state also generally earn low salaries, despite the time they spend.
âHe selects certain types of people, and they’re people with money and flexibility,â Cooper said.
A single mom who has to work to get food on the table? Forget it – $ 14,000 will not cover food, shelter and child care. Even a person with a spouse who earns an average income can struggle to make ends meet, especially if they have children.
âI couldn’t afford to do this job if my husband didn’t have a job,â Rep. Susan Fisher, Democrat of Asheville, told News & Observer earlier this year. “We extend the money we make to the nth absolute degree.” Fisher and several other lawmakers have turned to campaign money to supplement the cost of accommodation in Raleigh this year.
For the average worker, holding public office is largely out of the question – and in many ways our policies reflect that. North Carolina is notoriously business-friendly, but it ranks last in the United States for wages and worker protection. The new state budget will remove the corporate tax rate entirely by 2029, forcing workers to bear a disproportionate share of the tax burden.
Of course, the questionable optics of giving you a raise could explain why their pay has remained unchanged for so long. But someone has to do it. California, for example, has a commission known as the California Citizens Compensation Commission, which meets annually to review the salaries and benefits the state pays to its elected officials.
âI think there has to be some third-party mechanism where someone can look at this and say, ‘Hey, it’s about time. It’s time for a raise, âCooper said. âWe need to be able to put breaks in the length of sessions and we need to have a sustainable salary model going forward. “
If we want lawmakers in our states to be more like the people they serve, we must allow them to come forward without sacrificing their livelihood entirely.