LUMBERTON — Ask Republican gubernatorial candidate Pat McCrory the No. 1 issue on the minds of folks in Southeastern North Carolina and he will tell you there is really only one — the need for jobs and the re-establishment of a strong economy.
“I want to get people off unemployment,” he told The Robesonian on Tuesday. “I want to get our college and university graduates into jobs and out of their parents; homes.”
McCrory said he has been traveling throughout the region touting the need for growth of the state’s private business sector and the development of a more friendly environment for small businesses.
“It’s nice to get out into the real world,” he said. “I’m visiting the whole region, and what I’m seeing is that we need a whole new development plan. I don’t think the governor and lieutenant governor get that.”
McCrory on Tuesday used Scotland County — with its unemployment rate of 17.6 percent being the state’s highest — as a backdrop for driving home the point that North Carolina needs to grow its private sector. He made stops in Laurinburg at Service Thread — one of the county’s most successful businesses — and the county’s GOP headquarters before traveling to Robeson County, where he visited Robeson Community College, met with county GOP campaign workers, and attended a fund-raising event.
McCrory, a former Charlotte mayor, told The Robesonian that there needs to be a change in focus from service industry and government jobs to the private sector.
“We have to stop living off service and government jobs and build the private sector,” he said.
McCrory said that there is too much regulation on small businesses, regulation that limits business growth. He said incentives also need to be given to existing businesses that expand, not just to new businesses and industries that move into the state.
As part of his economic improvement plan, McCrory said education would become more market-based.
“We need to educate people to get jobs that are available,” he said. “We need to teach people the jobs that employers need. Even when they do have openings, employers sometimes find it difficult to find qualified employees to fill the positions.”
McCrory said Tuesday that he believes his message touting the need for change is being heard by North Carolinians across the state. An Elon University poll released Monday shows McCrory with a 15-point advantage over his Democratic opponent, Lt. Gov. Walter Dalton. About 11 percent remain undecided, according to the poll.
“We have to get our message of change across to voters in this area,” McCrory told The Robesonian. “They (Gov. Beverly Perdue and Lt. Gov. Walter Dalton) have failed this county. It is not better off than it was four years ago.
“There needs to be new leadership. That’s why we are reaching out to everyone.”
Reach staff writer Bob Shiles at 910-272-6117 or email@example.com