One of the best parts of campaigning is getting to travel around North Carolina meeting and listening to people. I also love seeing the diversity in landscape, in the cities and towns, and in the work that we do. I was reminded of this last week as we launched our campaign with a tour of some of our vibrant NC cities.
We kicked off in Durham in the revitalized warehouse district. Mayor Bill Bell hosted us at a revitalized warehouse that represents the accomplishments of the city to establish Durham as a cultural and economic powerhouse. The work they are doing in that city shows the heart and soul of Durham – and it was the perfect place to start our campaign at the heart of our great state.
Later that day I visited the TIMCO plant at PTI in Greensboro. The Piedmont Triad has certainly been in the news lately with recent job announcements for LF USA, Solstas Labs, and Carolina Precision Plastics, not to mention the Vice-President’s visit to Davidson County Community College. There is a lot of momentum in the Triad and its focus on coordinating workforce development and education with businesses who need workers is paying off!
We then traveled east to Wilmington, where the film industry is still humming with work from Hollywood. In fact, on the day we were there, EUE/Screen Gems Studios were filming Iron Man 3 – and no, I didn’t get a cameo. But the state will get revenue benefits in the tens of millions from the labor and services that support the movie production.
It’s exciting and heartening to see the diverse industries that flourish in North Carolina – and it’s because we offer a location where it’s easy to work with the public sector, and the natural and human resources are unmatched.
Nearing the end of our tour, we drove to Charlotte for a stop at Central Piedmont Community College. I visited the Middle College Program at the school’s Cato Campus and came away very impressed. The Charlotte area is another region that fosters the relationship between educators and job creators. We witnessed some of the incredible work they are doing there to train folks for 21st century jobs. Amazingly, they are educating nearly ## thousand students at CPCC, making it one of the largest schools in the nation.
North Carolina’s community colleges are an incredibly valuable resource for the kind of education and training that modern jobs require. A high school drop-out just isn’t going to have the skills and technical knowledge involved in more advanced manufacturing. I’ve heard a plant manager describe the multi-million-dollar machines that run in their plant. They operate so precisely that even a setting less than a millimeter off could destroy the machine. It’s just a fact of modern life that jobs today require more education. And if you want to attract companies, you have to provide the workforce that can effectively and safely produce the goods.
We finally closed our tour in my hometown, Rutherfordton. It’s always good to go back home and spend time with family friends, neighbors and longtime supporters. I feel strengthened and bolstered by their support and got some wonderful encouragement as I launched my campaign.
Last week’s tour is just the beginning. In the coming weeks I look forward to traveling across our great state and sharing my vision about how to improve education and create jobs.