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Perdue: Jobs, education must be the state’s priorities

By Gov. Bev Perdue
N.C. Governorís Office
The last time you visited your doctorís office and had blood drawn, chances are the needle was covered by sleeves manufactured in North Carolina.
Thereís a good chance, too, that the Blackhawk helicopter flying over on its way to base is held together by parts made right here in the Tar Heel state.
From broadband cable to dishwashers, jet engines to baked goods, North Carolina-based companies make the things we use, the foods we eat, the machines that move us and the supplies that make our lives better.
And while those companies are vastly different in many ways, they all share one thing in common: their success comes from the strength of their employees ó North Carolinians ó who come to work every day determined to keep North Carolina moving forward. These are the hardworking citizens I met as I got out of Raleigh and began a jobs tour. For the next few weeks I will take this jobs tour to the people ó visiting with workers on the assembly line, in community college classrooms and at town hall meetings ó as I talk with them about North Carolinaís two major priorities: jobs and education.
At West Pharmaceuticals in Kinston, I asked specifically about how those two topics ó jobs and education ó contribute to the success of a company that manufacturers health care products that touch some 99 percent of us. Their answer was immediate and unwavering: Without access to workers trained at the local community college, West would struggle to find qualified employees. They know what all of us are beginning to understand ó the ticket to a prosperous economy lies in an educated, well-trained workforce.
Too many of our friends and neighbors have lost jobs with North Carolinaís businesses since the beginning of this global economic recession. Creating new jobs and protecting those we still have must be the No. 1 priority for North Carolina. I consider it my most pressing obligation to strengthen our economic development efforts ó by protecting our incentive funds, by personally marketing North Carolina every chance I get, by rewarding entrepreneurship and innovation with tax breaks and access to capital and by investing in the one thing that will ensure businesses come and stay ó our public schools.
North Carolina is slowly but surely pulling out of this global economic recession because we are willing to make hard choices and smart investments in the things that matter. We have a real opportunity to show the world what we believe in, what are values are, by protecting our childrenís classrooms, our career training programs in community colleges and our capacity for research and development in our universities. Anyone who fails to understand the link between a strong education system and economic prosperity simply hasnít been paying attention. I believe itís time to stand up for what we believe in and insist that our elected leaders prioritize jobs and education first. This is a fight worth having.
So as I take my jobs tour, I have called on the General Assembly to put aside any ideological agenda that has them distracted. Save the miscellaneous for the end of session. Now is the time to focus on jobs and education, and to support those two priorities in the budget. These arenít only my priorities; they are North Carolinaís priorities, and only by keeping them at the center of our efforts will we keep North Carolina moving forward.
North Carolina stands poised to emerge out of this recession better than it was before. We can put our people back to work and make sure our children have the education they need to succeed. Join me in urging your senators and representatives to focus on whatís really important to all of us ó and to North Carolinaís future.

Beverly Perdue is the governor of North Carolina.

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