Editor’s note: As part of our commitment to covering “The Business of the Greater Outer Banks”, WOBX has reached out to candidates running for state and local office this November in our coverage area to answer a series of questions focused on economic development and the visitor economy. We’ve included candidates who are running unopposed as a service to our readers. Some candidates did not respond to the questionnaire at the time of publication, and we will update this story when we get their answers.
N.C. Senate – District 3
Democrat Valerie Jordan of Warrenton faces Republican First District Sen. Bobby Hanig of Powells Point in a district that stretches from the Atlantic Ocean to the I-85 corridor.
Jordan’s campaign has not submitted her answers.
Essential/worker housing continue to be one of the main challenges facing the overall business climate on the Outer Banks and in northeastern North Carolina. What steps will you take to address this housing shortage?
In the budget I secured $35 million for affordable housing for Dare County. Once this housing is established it will alleviate some of the stresses in the surrounding counties by having people move from other areas into Dare County.
We need to encourage municipalities and local governments to ease restrictions on accessory dwellings and encourage local governments to allow for multiple unit housing. Study and consider dormitory housing style for short term housing, not year-round, these would be 90-100 days for college students working in the Outer Banks.
What do you see as the other challenges facing overall economic development in your area, and how will you address them?
Broadband is the number one issue, the state has funded over one billion dollars for broadband. Currituck County recently received four million dollars for broadband expansion. Though we are not finished, I will continue to fight for broadband for across the region so every household has access to it.
Other major challenges are infrastructure and schools. I’m fighting for grants for lower economic tier counties to get assistance to help with new or updated schools.
While I’ve been in the General Assembly, we approved nearly $43.8 million in grants to expand broadband in the 16 counties of the Fifth District, and $105.3 million in grants for new and renovated schools in six of the lowest income counties.
What are your ideas and goals to boost overall economic development in the area?
Education and training is most important, we need to get our workforce ready for economic development. The priority is one education and training. We need to expand our partnering with community colleges for kids who are not going to four year colleges to get the training certificates for trades such as plumbing, welding, electrical, and others to help attract manufacturing jobs to the region. Employers want to know there is workforce ready to step into jobs.
What are your ideas and goals in helping support the current visitor economy and help it to grow in the area?
We are the breaking point at the ability to do what we have now. Because of the all the great things available our tourism economy has had record numbers. We need to keep the image up of the area, maintain our pristine beaches, and continue to work on improving our infrastructure needs.
What other challenges does the area face in maintaining the current visitor economy, and how will you address it?
Inflation is a huge challenge for tourism, it impacts the ability of visitors to afford the trip and it impacts businesses due to the rising cost of everything – salaries, gas, food, etc.