Let’s look at where we started in January when I had the great honor of being sworn in as your Governor. Putting people back to work was our main goal and we’ve made significant progress.
In January, North Carolina’s unemployment rate was 9.5 percent. Today, it is down to 7.6 percent. Bringing jobs to North Carolina will continue to a top priority in 2014 because people are still hurting and we won’t be satisfied until every North Carolinian that wants a job can find one. We won’t be satisfied until North Carolina leads the nation in job growth and we’re going to do everything in our power in 2014 to make that goal a reality.
This past year we tackled some very complex problems and made some difficult decisions. At times, we had to endure short-term pain for long-term gain. I’ve traveled the state and have listened to you. And it’s clear we must unleash more our resources for North Carolina’s economic revival.
Thanks to the historic tax reform we passed, North Carolinians will be able to keep more of their hard earned money in their paychecks starting on January 1st. These reforms also will make North Carolina more competitive in attracting job creators to our state.
We’re also revitalizing our job recruitment efforts so we can be faster, smarter, and more innovative when responding to business looking to move to North Carolina. We’ll also focus on helping existing business grow and thrive so they can put more North Carolinians back to work.
Transportation is critical to any discussion about economic growth. When you look back at where we started, funding for roads, airports and other transportation projects were largely based on political influence. With the bipartisan reforms we set in place this year, funding will be based on merit and need. We’ll connect rural communities to our state’s economic hubs so that small towns in North Carolina will have big city opportunities.
Next year, we’ll build on the progress we made this year in revitalizing our economy, streamlining government and improving our children’s education. I’ll continue to surround myself with problem solvers, people dedicated to improving the lives of everyone in North Carolina. Some politicians and interest groups will just want to tear the process down, but we will not be distracted. We all want a better North Carolina. We must respect our different paths to reach that goal and find consensus where we can.
Jancer Franklin, a farmer from Madison County, has given all of us an example to follow. Most of his crops were damaged by flood waters that ravaged Western North Carolina earlier this year. When I met Mr. Franklin, he didn’t greet me with a complaint. Instead, he handed me a bag of cucumbers from what little crops he had left and asked how I was doing. He told me not to worry about him. He would bounce back.
Jancer Franklin represents the strength of North Carolina.
In the upcoming year, I’ll continue to listen and learn as I travel the state and put the people’s common-sense wisdom and compassion to work confronting the serious issues that face North Carolina.
Much has been accomplished this year and by working together and unleashing the creativity of our people, North Carolina’s brightest days are still ahead.