Letters to the Editor

John D. Chaffee: Critical bond issue for Eastern N.C. education, economy

Our private, not-for-profit economic development agency is dedicated to improving the capacity of Eastern North Carolina to sustain and attract companies that will create quality jobs. That includes supporting sensible education initiatives.

Several months ago, our Board of Directors approved a resolution supporting the ConnectNC bond referendum. We revisited this decision after the legislature approved a $2 billion bond issue that did not include transportation projects. We unanimously endorsed the bond issue supporting critically needed investments in higher education, clean water systems and state parks.

The legislature’s decision to eliminate the transportation component was a result of its ending transfers of money from the Highway Trust Fund to the general fund – a huge step toward improving our connectivity.

We have lost many jobs as a result of global shifts in manufacturing, but we are experiencing significant growth in STEM-related manufacturing jobs such as aerospace, life sciences, motor vehicle parts, value-added agriculture (food, wood products) as well as health care and financial services.

Our community colleges and universities play an oversized role in providing the technical talent needed by such employers, not only in educating the next generation, but in retraining adults who have lost jobs.

The bond proceeds will allow Eastern North Carolina institutions to build, renovate and equip new facilities needed to meet student needs.

John D. Chaffee

President and CEO, NCEast Alliance