Under the Dome

Emerging issues forum focuses on manufacturing

November 11, 2012 

The Institute for Emerging Issues will focus its annual forum next year on manufacturing, and it is beginning this week with a series of programs that explore the issue.

On Monday at 3:45 p.m., the Institute at N.C. State University will host a virtual panel discussion on manufacturing and its importance to Generation Z. The discussion will be broadcast live online and available for viewing through the Emerging Issues website and YouTube.

The panelists include Chris Anderson, editor-in-chief of Wired Magazine; Adam Friedman, author and director for New York’s Pratt Center for Community Center for Community Development; Aly Khalifa, a Raleigh entrepreneur; Joe LaRussa, a Society of Manufacturing Engineer’s membership director; and A.J. Swaett, an industrial marketing strategist from Atlanta.

On Tuesday, the Institute will hold an event from 5:30 to 8 p.m. At Cobblestone Hall (215 Wolfe St.) where 10 North Carolina entrepreneurs will share their ideas.

The Institute was created by former four-term Gov. Jim Hunt.

Jan. 12 not soon enough?

Pat McCrory is the governor-elect. But when will he take office?

The N.C. constitution says the governor’s term “shall commence on the first day of January next after their election and continue until their successors are elected and qualified.” But traditionally the transfer of power is timed to the Junior League of Raleigh’s inauguration festivities. Gov. Bev Perdue took the oath of office Jan. 10, 2008.

This year’s inauguration is pegged for Saturday, Jan. 12, a day after the league’s inaugural ball. But Bob Orr, a conservative and former N.C. Supreme Court justice, argues McCrory needs to be sworn in sooner.

“I would submit that the Constitution leaves no flexibility and that the new governor,” he said. “It simply requires the administration of the oath before the governor can perform any duties. The qualifications are limited to age, residency and having been elected. Thus, on January 1, the new governor should take the oath (perhaps in private) then do the inaugural activities of oath taking, parade, ball, etc., whenever.”

McCrory provided no answers at a news conference in Raleigh on Thursday, saying decisions have been made.

State transit plan on horizon

When he was Charlotte’s mayor, McCrory helped implement a 25-year plan that set priorities for transit investment to guide the city’s growth. Now the governor-elect says North Carolina needs a 25-year transportation and infrastructure plan “to send a clear signal to the business community of the state’s future investment in roads, railroads, bridges, ports, airports and other infrastructure.”

People in and out of government in Raleigh have been thinking along similar lines over the past couple of years.

“We’ve done a lot of work, and we’re happy to share that with the new governor,” said Gene Conti, who has served as Perdue’s transportation secretary since 2009. “And what he does with that is up to him. There’s a lot of stuff out there, and we’re certainly sharing it with his transition team.”

A business-government logistics task force, chaired by Lt. Gov. Walter Dalton, spent two years meeting in communities across North Carolina to assess the state’s long-term economic, mobility and infrastructure needs, and it reported its findings in June. Recommendations included further looks at developing inland ports and investing in improvements to the Morehead City and Wilmington ports.

The state Board of Transportation updated its own long-range look this year with a 2040 Statewide Transportation Plan, based on a survey of expected needs and priorities from residents and local governments. The plan predicts that the state will need $94 billion over the next three decades to maintain the transportation system we have now, and $130 billion to build a better system. But the state can count on only $54 billion in state and federal transportation funds during the same period.

For more on this, see our transportation blog: http://blogs.newsobserver.com/crosstown.

Staff writers Rob Christensen, John Frank and Bruce Siceloff

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