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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 WUNC’s race and southern culture reporter, the first public radio journalist in the South to hold such a position. She also is co-host of the podcast Tested and host of the special podcast series, PAULI. Leoneda is the recipient of numerous awards from AP, RTDNA and NABJ. She’s been a reporting fellow in Berlin and Tokyo. You can follow her on Twitter @LeonedaInge.
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