Appreciating our Local Government Officials in 2022
Appreciating our Local Government Officials in 2022
Excerpt from the remarks of Chamber President and CEO, Aaron Nelson, during the Local Government Appreciation Reception, which captures the accomplishments of our municipal, state, and federal government officials in 2022.
Good evening! Welcome everyone!
I am Aaron Nelson, President and CEO of The Chamber for a Greater Chapel Hill-Carrboro, and it is my pleasure to welcome you this evening to the Local Government Appreciation Reception.
At the Chamber our vision is “To be a resilient, globally recognized community with the talent, infrastructure and investment that drives the success of local employers and supports world-class education, public amenities, and thriving downtowns.”
We are grateful for your leadership and partnership in realizing it.
As partners in achieving our shared vision we have a policy agenda focused on four key areas – economic development, workforce development, community development, and business development and in 2023 we are excited to work with you all to advance this positive community impact agenda.
This evening’s reception is hosted by The Chamber’s Board of Directors, Government Affairs Committee, Major Investors, and Chamber staff to say thank you… thank you from the business community to you - our elected and senior government officials - for your remarkable partnership this year in service to our community.
As I reflect on 2022, several highlights come to my mind:
In Chapel Hill:
- You prioritized economic development, especially in downtown. You increased funding for the Chapel Hill Downtown Partnership, you supported the development of new wet labs and innovation space, and you are invested in the infrastructure necessary for a vibrant down, including a 1,000-space parking deck.
- You streamlined regulatory requirements and reduced regulatory hurdles in the affordable housing development process. Of course, we hope you pull those smart changes through all development processes!
- You are addressing our serious housing gaps with the complete community framework. You and we agree we must have more housing.
- And through it all, you are promoting development density along transit corridors and investing in the infrastructure and amenities that make our community a great place to live and work.
- We know you are listening, our local businesses feel heard, and for that we are grateful. Thank you!
- You approved the 203 Project, which is the most significant municipal development project in Carrboro’s history. When completed, this beautiful and modern facility will include a library, the NC Works Skills Development Center, and other uses that will help activate our downtown. And thanks to your leadership, the facility includes parking as well!
- You also approved the Carrboro Comprehensive Plan, which prioritizes the expansion of commercial and mixed-use development opportunities especially in the downtown, promotes infill development and overall development density, and strives to reduce the tax burden on residents with more commercial development.
- Through it all, you continued to support the local business community with grants and loans through the Covid recovery.
- For all of that and more – your business community thanks you!
- You actively supported regional connectivity and invested in the development of the future train station.
- You have the strongest commercial tax base of our towns in Orange County and invested heavily in water and sewer infrastructure to support long-term growth and economic development.
- You invested in regional partnership with your strong investment in the Intercity Visit, and you continue to help fund the data for our annual State of the Community Report.
- It is so easy for a community to focus in rather than partner out. Without fail, Hillsborough Board of Commissioners come to the table with a posture of engagement and cooperation. The spirit of partnership in Hillsborough is really exceptional and, for that and so much more, your business community thanks you!
In Orange County:
- You preserved Article 46 funding for economic development for another 10 years, rejoined the Research Triangle Regional Partnership (RTRP), approved the realignment of our workforce board to better connect with our labor market and improve our regional talent pipeline, and invested $10 million to improve broadband in underserved areas of the county that includes many home-based businesses.
- All the while, you have maintained your strong support for our schools and continued to partner with us on data for the State of the Community Report.
- For all of this and more - We thank you!
- You crushed it in economic development with more than $9 billion and 9,000 jobs secured in Chatham County this year! Some highlights of course being the accelerated development of Chatham Park, securing the $2 billion deal with Vin Fast – the Vietnamese auto manufacturer building a new line of electric vehicles at your Innovation Point Megasite, and the $5 billion deal with Wolfspeed - a global leader in silicon carbide semiconductor manufacturing in Siler City. These are the two largest economic development deals in the history of North Carolina.
- The Chatham Economic Development Partnership exceeded its nearly $1 million fundraising goal, of which our Chamber is pleased to be an investor, and you like Hillsborough demonstrated strong interest in partnership with your elected and policy leaders engaging with us and others on affordable housing strategy, regional transportation and connectivity, workforce development, and much more
- As a neighboring county that will benefit from your strategic vision, confidence, and effectiveness, we thank you!
At the General Assembly:
- Our state representatives and senator faithfully advocated for long-standing priorities in our community, including education, our university, and transportation infrastructure.
- Along the way, they prioritized infrastructure issues like transportation and grid modernization and set ambitious reductions in carbon emissions that has led to an explosive growth in the renewable energy sector in North Carolina.
- We see you and thank you for your strong support.
And in U.S. Congress:
- What a complicated place to serve! Despite all the challenges, you were able to pass at least two significant pieces of legislation that will help our community, including the Inflation Reduction Act, which will lower prescription drug costs, address climate change, and reduce the federal deficit, and the infrastructure bill (Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act), which will help rebuild airports, rails, and roads, ensure access to high-speed internet, and strengthen supply chains.
- All the while, our local businesses and community continue to benefit from the relief provided through the many federal government covid response and recovery bills.
- Thank you, David Price, for your years of faithful service and we look forward to working with Representative-elect Valerie Foushee.
- For your focus on serving the needs of our community – thank you!
Listen, we know we ask a lot of you throughout the year, and we do not always agree, but we appreciate you…
…We appreciate that in 2022 you really leaned-in and listened to the business community’s perspective on matters that matter to our community.
I want to professionally thank you, personally thank you, and publicly thank you, and the Chair of our Board of Directors would like to do so as well.
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