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Friday, March 1, 2024

NC trend: The N.C. Tribune news you may have missed

Our paid daily newsletter provides detailed interviews with key lawmakers, Q&As with other political leaders and lots of stories tracking daily happenings at the state legislature as the 2023 long session gets under way.

Here’s some of what you missed. Sign up today at nctribune.com.

LEVELING THE PLAYING FIELD

Some North Carolina charter schools are dominating in athletics, and those wins have sparked envy.

Because charter school enrollment isn’t bound by district lines, charters draw students from larger pools than traditional high schools. That gives some an advantage to build powerhouse teams.

Until recently, the solution most often floated has involved having charters “play up” a level, meaning a 1A charter would play at the 2A level and so on. A new rule being considered by state lawmakers would require charters to play at the same level as the traditional high

 school that “the largest percentage” of its students would otherwise have attended.

The potential effect of the percentage idea is that a small charter that draws most of its students from a large, 4A high school would have to play 4A ball, says Rep. Ashton Wheeler Clemmons, D-Guilford.

Some say the potential mismatches could wreck charter-school athletic programs and in the process also threaten their schools’ market appeal. Of course, that’s the flip side of the argument traditional-school ADs and coaches have been making.

STATE WORKING ON OFFSHORE WIND STRATEGY

A bill that would impose a 10-year moratorium on offshore wind energy projects off
North Carolina’s coast will not become law this year. A Department of Commerce task force meeting hinted at possible reasons.

One is that if the industry gets off the ground — or, rather, on the water — there are potentially a lot of jobs that might come the state’s way.

Project managers are going to have to create a lot of supply

chains from the ground up, which will mean work for a broad set of trades, Maynard Smith, the Maryland business development manager for US Wind, told members of N.C. Taskforce for Offshore Wind Economic Resource Strategies.

His presentation included a slide pointing out that as projects reach the construction phase, there’ll be work for everyone from machinists and welders to whoever’s driving the truck that delivers the port-a-potties.

Off the North Carolina coast, the project furthest along is one by Kitty Hawk North, although the company suggests it’ll be at least 2025 before it gets the green light.

RECRUITING SUCCESS MAKES NEW TARGETS HARDER TO HIT

The state’s economic-development effort is going to need a strong last eight months of the year to make good on its “very aggressive” targets, one of its top recruiters says.

Through the first four months of 2023, the state had notched “27 recruitment and expansion wins” in its Tier 1 and Tier 2 counties, said Christopher Chung, CEO of the Economic Development Partnership of  North Carolina.

But “where we’d like to be is 40 wins,” to meet a benchmark set by averaging performance over the last three years and adding to that a growth factor, Chung told members of the Economic Development Accountability and Standards Committee, an oversight group.

Similarly, the January-to-April wins promise more than 3,400 jobs, and involve capital investments “at an announced $1.5 billion and change,” Chung said.

But the state’s targets would have translated into goals of about 8,600 jobs and $3.1 billion, respectively.

One reason the targets are high is because of the state’s past recruiting successes, Chung said.

He was alluding to prior-year announcements like the VinFast auto plant in Chatham County, which promised 7,500 jobs and about $2 billion in company investment.

 

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