ARE WE BUSINESS-FRIENDLY?

North Carolina consistently over the past two decades has been cited as a top state in which to do business. This month CNBC ranked us fourth (Texas with no income tax is first). Site Selection magazine has us second. But the gubernatorial exchanges charge that North Carolina is losing ground. No longer the Dixie Dynamo.

Republicans blame the state tax structure with its high income tax and regulations. Democrats charge that cutbacks to education and funds for business recruiting are putting the state in jeopardy. The debate is a healthy one and has implications for the hosiery and textiles manufacturers and the supply chain.

Industry initiatives can be expected to have favorable hearings. Investments in research and development, business nurturing (incubators), job training, expansion will likely receive state support. Growing and protecting our existing companies will be a priority for leaders of both political parties. During the waning hours of the immediate past session, the General Assembly restored funding to the Rural Economic Center which helps fund infrastructure and development programs in regions outside the large metropolitan centers.

With its low unions population, the support of community colleges, and tax incentives, North Carolina is considered friendly to business. But competition is tough and this fact alone will shape the agenda for the 2013 session which convenes January 31.

AFTER 35 YEARS, NEW CAREER

Representative Harold Brubaker, former Speaker of the House and its longest serving member has resigned. He will become a lobbyist in the 2013 session.

Throughout his 18 terms, GOP Rep. Brubaker has firmly established a reputation for helping businesses thrive. This year he was senior chair of the House Appropriations Committee which protected the funds for the Manufacturing Solutions Center and the Textiles Technology Center. He is a farmer and former instructor at Randolph Community College.

Brubaker will be joined by his son in a new lobbying firm. Banks, insurance companies and utilities are seeking experienced people for lobbying in a Legislature that is likely to remain dominated by Republicans for the next 10 years.

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