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Biden touts workforce training in Rocky Mount, signs executive order at Fort Liberty

President Joe Biden speaks about workforce training programs at Nash Community College in Rocky Mount.
Colin Campbell
President Joe Biden speaks about workforce training programs at Nash Community College in Rocky Mount, N.C. on Fri., June 9, 2023.

Updated at 4:45 p.m.

President Joe Biden was in North Carolina Friday, making stops in Rocky Mount and at Fort Liberty in Fayetteville.

In Rocky Mount, the president and First Lady Jill Biden toured Nash Community College. Biden spoke at the college’s Advanced Manufacturing Instituteabout his workforce development initiatives.

Nash Community College was among the colleges that recently received nearly $24 million from a COVID-19 federal relief package to create more training for clean energy jobs.

Gov. Roy Cooper, U.S. Rep. Don Davis and Nash Community College students were among dozens of invited guests attending Biden’s speech, which was held in a room full of industrial equipment used for training.

Biden touted the billions of dollars in private investment in North Carolina’s community college system that he said is coming in addition to the federal grant funding.

“Look, you can’t have advanced manufacturing without a highly trained workforce, they don’t go together,” he said, noting that 95% of graduates from the Nash program find jobs immediately after graduation. “That’s where you all come in, here at this college, you’re learning every aspect of advanced manufacturing — machining to robotics, so you can do everything from cellphones to rocketships, literally, not figuratively.”

Biden said the investments in workforce training are paying off in North Carolina, pointing to the Wolfspeed semiconductor plant under construction in Siler City and the Toyota battery plant coming to Randolph County.

Friday marked the first presidential visit to the Rocky Mount area in decades, and Biden quoted a speech from then-President Lyndon Johnson when he visited the city in 1964.

"He said, 'the time has come for us to see that every American gets a decent break and a fair chance to make good,'" Biden said. "That's exactly what we're going to achieve."

Security was tight for the president’s Rocky Mount visit, with Secret Service agents and dogs searching cars entering the community college campus. Biden was in North Carolina at the same time special counsel Jack Smith was announcing indictments against former President Donald Trump over classified documents.

As Biden greeted the sons of Congressman Davis in Rocky Mount, the president declined to comment on the indictment, telling a reporter he doesn't plan to speak with Attorney General Merrick Garland about the matter.

President Joe Biden speaks with the sons of North Carolina Congressman Don Davis after an event in Rocky Mount.
Colin Campbell
President Joe Biden speaks with the sons of North Carolina Congressman Don Davis after an event in Rocky Mount, N.C. on Fri. June 9, 2023.

After leaving Rocky Mount, the Bidens visited Fort Liberty — the recently renamed Army base formerly known as Fort Bragg. There he signed an executive order to help spouses of soldiers and veterans to find jobs and child care. It’s part of Jill Biden’s initiative to help veterans and their caregivers.

"He knows that supporting military spouses is a national security imperative, and in the last two years, he’s done so much to respond to the challenges that you all face," Jill Biden said of her husband.

President Biden said the executive order will push federal agencies to offer flexible policies for employees married to someone in the military, including providing remote work opportunities when a family is stationed overseas. The order also gives military spouses an option to get help from military legal assistance officers about getting credentialed for overseas jobs in their field. And it creates more opportunities for military families to access child care services with tax benefits.

"Too often the people you work with, they just don't know — not that they don't care, they don't know," Biden said. "They don't know what you're going through. They don't know how it works."

Colin Campbell covers politics for WUNC as the station's capitol bureau chief.
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