RALEIGH – Your local economy is already one of the best in the state, but President Barack Obama traveled to N.C. State University Wednesday afternoon to announce the future of American jobs.
“I’m pleased to announce America’s newest high-tech manufacturing hub, which is going to be focused on the next generation of power electronics, is going to be based right here in Raleigh, North Carolina,” President Obama said.
That announcement received a standing ovation in N.C. State’s J.W. Isenhour Tennis Center.
***Listen to President Obama’s Remarks at N.C. State***
The Next Generation Power Electronics Innovation Institute is the second of its kind. The first was started more than a year ago in Youngstown, Ohio and focuses on developing 3D printing technology.
President Obama said Raleigh-Durham’s innovation institute will focus on energy efficiency through this partnership of universities and businesses.
“Bringing together leading companies, universities, and federal research all together under one roof,” President Obama said. “Folks at this hub are going to develop what are called wide band gap semiconductors.”
The President likely addressed many engineers as he pointed out that he was on the campus of a university with one of the largest undergraduate engineering programs in the country.
He said the wide band gap semiconductors will revolutionize energy conservation.
“They’re special because they lose up to 90 percent less power,” President Obama said. “They can operate at higher temperatures than normal semiconductors. So that means they can make everything from cell phones to industrial motors to electric cars smaller, faster, and cheaper. There are going to (still be) applications for the traditional semiconductors, but these can be focused on certain areas that will vastly improve energy efficiency (and) vastly improve the quality of our lives.”
President Obama said this is just the start of where he wants to see the United States go with these partnerships. A year ago in his State of the Union address, he told congress he wanted to see bills passed to allow for 15 institutes in the U.S. Now he says he wants congress to approve the funding for 45.
“Republicans and Democrats in the House and the Senate introduced bills that would get this going,” President Obama said. “That’s good. But they haven’t passed the bills yet. So, I want to encourage them to continue to pass the bills that would create 45 of these manufacturing hubs. In the meantime, I’m directing my administration to move forward where we can on our own.”
While the Triangle has the best unemployment rate in North Carolina, the state itself if still struggling. It currently ranks 35th in the U.S. at 7.4 percent as of November.
However, President Obama says this will institute will create job opportunities and provide a major boost to the state’s economy, and he says he hopes that it will spread nationwide.
“This can be a breakthrough year for America,” President Obama said. “The pieces are all there to start bringing back more of the jobs that we’ve lost over the past decade.”
And he says he’s seeing signs of other countries sending jobs back to American and that he doesn’t want to miss the opportunity.
“A lot of companies around the world are starting to talk about bringing jobs back to the United States, brining jobs back to places like North Carolina—partly because we’ve got cheap energy costs; we’ve got the best workers in the world; we’ve got the best university systems in the world; and we’ve got the largest market in the world,” President Obama said. “So, the pieces are there to restore some of the ground that the middle class has lost in recent decades.”
President Obama kept his focus on the economy, job creation, and the new innovation institute. He did not mention Democratic Senator Kay Hagan during his time at N.C. State. She’s running for re-election this year and has distanced herself from the President in recent months.
***Correction: President Obama mentioned Senator Hagan at the beginning of his speech by thanking her for the hard work she’s doing in Washington and that he was sorry she couldn’t make the trip.
She told the media that she felt it was important to stay in Washington while the Senate was in session. However, the Replublican party has criticized her for her support of President Obama, especially during the struggling times of Obamacare and its website troubles.
However, Sen. Hagan has tried to show that she wants to keep the president honest when she asked the Obama Administration for a full investigation of HealthCare.gov. She also asked the administration to extend the filing period for Americans since there were many problems.http://chapelboro.com/news/business/president-obama-introduces-innovation-institute-n-c-state/
CHAPEL HILL- When the Chapel Hill Town Council and the Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools board met together for the first time last night to discuss shared concerns, Mayor Mark Kleinschmidt called for the school board to take a more active role in how the town plans for growth.
“We really need your feedback… to be more engaged in commenting on the impact of growth in our community on how well you’re able to provide your services to it,” said Kleinschmidt.
But long-time school board member Mike Kelley countered that growth is not what the district really needs.
“The best situation for the schools is stability, not to have to build new schools, not to have to redistrict, to move kids from one school from another and change those communities,” said Kelley.
Nonetheless, both council and school board members recognized that the district’s high-performing schools are a significant draw for Chapel Hill, and that school enrollment numbers are likely to continue to grow.
School board member Mia Burroughs has represented the district in the Central West planning process. She told the council the specifics of development aren’t as important to school administrators as the bottom line.
“Within our district, we’re not super-concerned about where the kids are,” said Burroughs. “What we are concerned about is how to do we pay for the schools and the operating costs, and that’s what we want you to be cognizant of, that when there are more kids, there’s a cost.”
Assistant Superintendent Todd LoFrese told the council the district is already struggling to maintain aging facilities and that the cost of operating new schools continues to rise.
In light of that, Burroughs and others asked the council to examine the economic impact of residential development and consider what can be done to increase the commercial tax base.
At the same time, some are already looking ahead to where the next school will go. Mayor Pro Tem Ed Harrison suggested land-banking potential school sites across the district.
“With the astounding price of land in this district, we really have to pin down that land right now, so that in five or ten years it isn’t simply out of reach,” said Harrison.
This was the first time the two groups have come together to discuss joint planning efforts. The school board and council pledged to continue the collaboration through a series of future meetings and raised the possibility of forming a committee to facilitate communication.http://chapelboro.com/news/local-government/chccs-asks-town-council-to-consider-cost-of-growth/
CHAPEL HILL-Sustainability and citizen engagement were the key themes raised by candidates for the Chapel Hill Town Council at Thursday’s forum hosted by the Orange County Democratic Women.
Cuts to state and federal funding, as well as the persistent drain of retail dollars to surrounding counties have many in Chapel Hill looking for ways to grow the local economy.
Maria Palmer, who served on the Transportation Committee during the Chapel Hill 2020 process, said implementing the vision laid out in the new comprehensive plan will be the key to drawing new commercial development to the area.
“I don’t think any of us realize that the level of services we receive in Chapel Hill is unsustainable,” said Palmer. “We either pay a whole lot more in taxes or we cut services or we create new income, and that is one thing I really want to do.”
And 2020 co-chair George Cianciolo agreed. He said the town needs to focus on streamlining the development process and revising the town’s land use ordinances to provide guidance to developers to attract new business.
“There should be no reason that any applicant should have to wait more than a year to either get an up or down vote on their application,” said Cianciolo. “If we do those [revisions], I think we can get new growth, we can get thoughtful new growth, we can get well-designed new growth that will not only increase our tax base, it will bring in increased revenue from sales tax.”
D.C Swinton said he’d like to see new growth focused on job creation to help the approximately one out four Chapel Hill residents who live in poverty.
“There are a lot of people who are still in need of full-time jobs and I’d like to bring jobs through sustainable practices to Chapel Hill,” said Swinton.
Candidates also discussed ways to get the public engaged in town affairs. Loren Hintz said he wants to foster a proactive approach among town officials.
“So much of what local government does is complaint-driven,” said Hintz. “I want to create a new attitude where employees are going around town, council members are going around town noticing what the problems are and then pointing those out so they can be addressed rather than waiting for someone to complain.”
Current Council Member Ed Harrison said educating residents about the role of local government is one of the best ways to get the public involved.
“The more the town publicizes what the town actually does on a day-to-day basis, and what solutions the town can offer to people, the more people will understand that the policies of the town should matter to them,” said Harrison.
Only Democratic candidates were invited to Thursday’s forum. Cianciolo, who had previously been unaffiliated, recently registered as a Democrat, allowing him to participate.
Five of the nine candidates for town council were in attendance. Incumbent Sally Greene was out of town on a family matter, Planning Board member Amy Ryan was across town at the Central West meeting, and challenger Paul Neebe was absent. Gary Kahn, the ninth council candidate, was not included, as he is a registered Republican.
Election campaigning is well underway, with a slew of forums scheduled in the next six weeks. The local chapter of the League of Women Voters will host a forum for the Carrboro municipal candidates this Saturday from 10 a.m. to noon at Carrboro Town Hall.http://chapelboro.com/news/election/chtc-candidates-talk-growth-engagement-and-sustainability/