In 2022, joining a chamber of commerce isn’t just about networking. While swapping business cards was once the cornerstone of chamber involvement, an increasing number of our members are joining today for advocacy on issues and a voice. Ensuring we have elected bodies who understand that free enterprise is the backbone of our economy is critical to continued growth in our economy. Chamber members must use their voice during elections by voting for pro-business, pro-jobs candidates.
Whether you always see it or not, your Wilmington Chamber team is acutely focused on advocating on behalf of our members on public policy issues that matter to the business community, the job creators, and the engines of our economy. The key issues this chamber has been focused on include the following:
· Our region’s ability to attract and sustain business growth
· Protecting our unique quality of place
· Convening the business community to develop meaningful talent and workforce solutions
· Advocating for transportation and infrastructure solutions that keep southeastern North Carolina moving.
As we work to sustain the business growth we’re experiencing and grow new industries, this year, our chamber passed a Resolution Supporting Efforts to Explore Offshore Wind Energy Off the Coast of Southeast North Carolina. We’ve also supported legislative action to reduce carbon emissions, modernize the energy grid, and keep energy prices as affordable as possible for residents and businesses.
In partnership with New Hanover County, Wilmington Business Development, and Wilmington Downtown Inc., we are working with dozens of existing small business owners in our target industry sectors to enable their continued growth. That work involves tearing down obstacles to their growth, such as available real estate, infrastructure, and access to talent.
Our chamber has been a vocal advocate for Project Grace and other public-private partnerships that aid in the revitalization of downtown, and other areas of our community, for businesses and residents. We’ve also worked closely with elected officials at every level of government on the issue of beach renourishment and coastal resilience that protect our hospitality and tourism industries. It isn’t by accident that our beaches remain attractors to visitors who contribute greatly to our economy. Advocacy is needed with state and federal governments as well as the Army Corps of Engineers.
As our area employers face unprecedented wars for talent, the Wilmington Chamber and New Hanover County Schools have partnered to introduce a new Career and Leadership Development Academy for 7th-grade students. The goal is to introduce young people to our local employers and the high-growth jobs they seek to fill at every education level and the soft skills needed to succeed. We are partnering with other organizations in our community to address the needs for talent in healthcare, technology, manufacturing, and clean energy.
The need to modernize and diversify North Carolina’s transportation funding structure has become more critical as our region continues to grow. As a member of the Destination 2030 Coalition, we worked to change the state’s transportation funding structure to continue supporting healthy economic growth and ensure we meet the needs of our fast-growing state in an increasingly competitive business environment. Ultimately, the state has committed to allocating a percentage of the total sales tax collected for transfer from the state’s General Fund to the Highway Fund and the Highway Trust Fund. The Wilmington Chamber also adopted a Resolution Urging Consideration of All Possible Options to Fund a Replacement for the Cape Fear Memorial Bridge since it is still the highest unfunded priority of the Wilmington Area MPO.
The issues we focus on matter significantly today, and if left unaddressed, they will continue to impact our economy and quality of life for decades to come, which is why we need members of the business community to vote in every election. You have a strong voice to share at the ballot box and can do so by backing candidates who back business, candidates who not only say they want to move North Carolina forward but act to make it happen, all the while protecting our system of free enterprise.
In just a few days, voters across North Carolina will have the opportunity to cast their ballots and let our candidates hear your voice. Early voting in New Hanover County begins on Thursday, October 20, and ends Saturday, November 5. To learn more about voting and registration, please visit New Hanover County’s Board of Elections website.
When deciding who to support, I hope our region’s voters will carefully consider which of our candidates will promote policy that positively impacts businesses and the economy. We need leaders who are focused on building consensus and overcoming legitimate policy differences and those who can create pathways to real, bold solutions to our community’s issues.
Our community’s job creators need pro-growth leaders able and willing to develop policy solutions that are good for our economy and workers in all industries. Candidates who might impede investment, innovation, job creation, and the inclusive economic growth we are striving for could hinder the momentum our region is experiencing in economic growth. Although we are growing quickly today, long-term economic success for our community is not guaranteed. The Wilmington Chamber continues to stress the need for bold vision, robust leadership, decisive action, and the foresight to plan ahead to meet our rapidly growing community’s needs.
Please take advantage of your opportunity to vote and support economic growth in New Hanover County.
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