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NC Commerce Talks Privatization

Sharon Decker
NC Commerce

North Carolina’s Economic Development Board is reviewing strategies and making suggestions on how to help re-vamp the state Commerce Department.

Commerce Secretary Sharon Decker says she’s pretty positive the Economic Development Partnership of North Carolina will be a reality.

“It’s a total re-organization, it is indeed.  Redesign, I guess is a better way to say it," said Decker.

The proposed partnership would privatize many of the agency’s functions and reportedly eliminate dozens of positions, including the directors of the film industry and tourism.  Red Hat CEO Jim Whitehurst is Vice-Chair of the newly formed economic development board reviewing the proposal.

“And so right now, all is good and that we have captured that well, a lot of really exciting things.  And we got to go back and then say, what can we afford.  We have to be a good stewards, certainly, of government resources," Whitehurst.

Secretary Decker says the new CEO of the Economic Development Partnership will report to her.  Meanwhile, There have been reports criticizing several states that have privatized economic development, accusing them of misusing taxpayer money.   A report from 'Good Jobs First' found problems that included excessive executive bonuses  and questionable subsidy deals, according to Chris Fitzsimon of NC Policy Watch.

The board is expected to approve the plan in January, but not before the concept of such a partnership is given the go-ahead by the Office of State Budget and Management. 

Leoneda Inge is the co-host of WUNC's "Due South." Leoneda has been a radio journalist for more than 30 years, spending most of her career at WUNC as the Race and Southern Culture reporter. Leoneda’s work includes stories of race, slavery, memory and monuments. She has won "Gracie" awards, an Alfred I. duPont Award and several awards from the Radio, Television, Digital News Association (RTDNA). In 2017, Leoneda was named "Journalist of Distinction" by the National Association of Black Journalists.
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