The McCrory administration is looking to bolster North Carolina’s economy as it undergoes major changes in how it will recruit new employers to the state.
In a final meeting for the state’s economic development board, N.C. Commerce Sec. Sharon Decker told members Wednesday that she’s hoping to figure out a way to continue to attract businesses, even as the legislature declined to fund some of her priorities.
The state legislature ended its session earlier this month without funding a $20 million “closing fund” that Decker and Gov. Pat McCrory had asked for. But it did give its blessing to moving the state’s marketing and recruiting efforts to a public-private partnership, a setup that has had mixed results in other states.
The board for the new public-private economic development partnership is expected to meet this afternoon. The group hopes to be operational by early October.
State lawmakers also let a tax credit program for the film industry, which offered credits of approximately 25 cents for every $1 spent on big projects, to sunset at the end of the year. Lawmakers instead allocated $10 million for a modified grant program.
Decker said Wednesday that she’s already heard that several shows and film projects may be backing out of North Carolina because of the changes.
“The risk is significant,” Decker said, about the possibility of losing North Carolina film jobs.
Her comments came as business and political leaders in New Hanover County, where much of North Carolina’s film industry is centered in Wilmington, made a plea to McCrory to call the legislature back into session to expand film incentives.
At Wednesday’s meeting, Decker said she also wishes funds for the Job Development Investment Grant (JDIG) had been expanded. A pending project in the Triangle, if it materializes, could deplete 80 percent of the fund, for the year, she said.
Decker declined to provide details about the pending jobs deal, saying that Commerce officials were still in talks with the business. She did say it could amount to more than 1,000 jobs at higher-than-average salaries.
“It puts us in a very precarious position,” Decker said, if the state depletes the JDIG funds early in the fiscal year.