Commentary

Report, editorial: McCrory’s economic development partnership has been a failure

Be sure to check out this morning’s Capitol Broadcasting Company editorial on WRAL.com. In it, the authors shine a light on a new report from the General Assembly’s Program Evaluation Division showing that former Gov. Pat McCrory’s Economic Development Partnership of North Carolina has been a failure and needs to go. This is from the editorial:

Amid the recent discussion over the effectiveness of the state’s economic development efforts, a new report this week exposed a less than flattering assessment of the private Economic Development Partnership of North Carolina.

The creation of the five-year-old partnership was a top priority of former Gov. Pat McCrory and the leadership of the General Assembly – who’d contended the state’s economic development efforts would be far better in private hands – and save taxpayer money with the use of private funding. It turned out to be meddling in a place that didn’t need it.

As the partnership’s contract expires in October, it has little to show that it has met the effectiveness promised with its establishment. In fact, there’s little evidence of any improvement on what it replaced. There’s no way to tell just who is in charge.

The report from the General Assembly’s Program Evaluation Division offers up concerns that it has been even less effective.

The partnership failed to coordinate and communicate with the state Department of Commerce and didn’t adequately raise private-source funding. About 93 percent of the partnership’s $24.5 million budget is from mostly state (89%) and federal resources….

After reading the report, it would be difficult NOT to conclude that any success North Carolina has had in economic development over the last five years has come despite the partnership and not because of it.

The rocky relationship between the partnership and the state wasn’t enhanced when, in the closing days of 2016, the partnership revised its rules to give incoming Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper far less input and oversight than outgoing Republican McCrory enjoyed.

The partnership didn’t completely dispute the communications and coordination shortcomings. It said that it has already taken steps toward improvement. “Previous performance audits of the organization … find no issues with how the organization is approaching its mission,” it said in the written response to the report.

This scathing report was far from an endorsement for contract renewal.

One of the big questions is just who the partnership worked for – the Department of Commerce or the state legislature? It is difficult to identify just who was in charge of economic development for the state.

It is time to do away with the partnership. Let the governor and Secretary of Commerce do their jobs.

Then we’ll know who to credit or blame.

Sounds like a plan.

One Comment


  1. Teri Beckman

    February 1, 2019 at 4:09 pm

    Did you actually read the report? It is far from scathing. Can you not do better than parrot WRAL?

    The EDPNC is made up skilled economic development professionals. In thirty years of working with nonprofit organizations, I have never seen an organization that could not use improvement (except maybe the NC Justice Center of course). Relationships perhaps with the state in particular could be improved, but that would not be surprising given the unfortunate political maneuvering that gave birth to the EDPNC, which I am sure has left hard feelings, but why on earth would you throw the baby out with the bath water?

    The report shares the EDPNC actually performed better than the state did (when it held certain functions) including capital investment by companies, foreign direct investment, and the number of companies receiving export assistance. It runs crazy efficiently with less 6% of costs allocated to administration (good luck finding a government agency that does that).

    I have found in my 30 + career in the nonprofit sector that nonprofits (meaning the legal structure that both the ECDPNC and the NC Policy Watch functions under) often provide for fresher outlooks and more flexibility and innovation than government can ever do by itself.

    There is a TON of potential here for EDPNC and the Commerce Department to improve the economic opportunities of all North Carolinians and I know there are professionals at both shops are deeply committed to this. So then why focus on tearing down the EDPNC when it has basically done a very good job for the citizens of North Carolina in its first 5 years of life? I think the report, it is elegant governmentese, basically says that.

    Does everything have to be political? Are you tired of Trumpesque reactionary behavior? Come on, you guys are way better than this. Please show us!!

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