Posts Tagged ‘North Carolina’

“Power Breakfast” with North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper – Part 1 of 2

North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper speaking at the April 6th Triangle Business Journal “Power Breakfast.” (PHOTO: Triangle Business Journal)

The Triangle Business Journal, the very well-read and respected business weekly newspaper for the Raleigh / Durham / Chapel Hill area of North Carolina, holds a quarterly “Power Breakfast” featuring an area senior leader with a few hundred local business leaders. The Spring 2017 breakfast held April 6, 2017 featured the newly elected NC Governor Roy Cooper. Governor Cooper is quite unique as he was the first challenger to defeat a sitting governor in our state since 1850!

One of the major issues in our state which helped lead to Governor Cooper’s election was the unpopular HB2 law passed last Spring (see my latest blog on HB2) which dictated the bathroom transgender people needed to use in public venues, curtailed the ability of cities and counties to pass their own non-discrimination ordinances, and more. Accordingly, this ongoing issue was a major part of the April 6th breakfast discussion.

Since I am a diversity and career development consultant with a deep expertise in the LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender) workplace and marketplace, Part 1 will overview all of Governor Cooper’s remarks, and Part 2, coming next week, will be a much deeper dive into the overall diversity and LGBT components of the breakfast.

It is important to note that this meeting was not for the LGBT community, but for general business leaders. Therefore it was quite remarkable that within 30 seconds of taking the stage, Governor Cooper stated that he loves his state of North Carolina with its diverse mix of people of different genders, races and sexual orientations; that diversity is all over our state, and “that we need to encourage diversity at every step.” Look for an expansion of this theme in part 2.

Popular NC State Attorney General Roy Cooper was the first candidate to defeat a sitting Governor in NC since 1850! (PHOTO: Citizen Times)

Key points from our Governor:

• My goal is to see North Carolina better educated, healthier, with more money in people’s pockets with them living a more abundant and purposeful life.

• In terms of economic development, we need to attract better paying jobs to North Carolina, pay attention to the businesses that are already here, and remember that small businesses are a major economic engine.

• Education has to be a key initiative in North Carolina – my goal is for NC to be one of the “Top 10 best educated states.” Building our education system is certainly a common ground issue that all legislators can agree on. Education goals:
1. Participation in pre-kindergarten education increased from 22% to 55%
2. High school graduation rate increased from the low 80% to 90s
3. More people with advanced degrees from 38% to 55%

• We can make people healthier by taking advantage of the federal funding provided for health care.

• We have cut taxes enough; it is now time to invest in our state as well as run things more effectively and efficiently. (Side note from Stan – I am sure our new state Secretary of Administration Machelle Sanders (link) will see to that!)

• We have to keep in mind that we are competing in a global economy (not just with bordering South Carolina.)

• Art and music are important elements for the quality of life in North Carolina, including attracting leading businesses to our state.

This is certainly an enlightened agenda to positively impact the lives of all North Carolinians.

More next week on diversity, the LGBT community and HB2!

More NC HB-2 Discussion – Two Business Perspectives

TBJ Editor Sougata Mukherjee (right) interviewing American City Business Journals CEO Whit Shaw at the Feb. 23 Power Breakfast (photo courtesy of the Triangle Business Journal)

As a quick refresher, North Carolina’s HB2 law, passed last spring, dictated that transgender people must use the restroom corresponding to the gender on their birth certificate in public facilities, and that municipalities may not pass legislation protecting its citizens from discrimination beyond that already described at the state level. The result has been a huge departure of convention, sporting and entertainment events, as well as potential major business expansion, from the state. See links to my previous blogs about HB2 at the bottom.

The discussion continues to drag on and on, and now the proponents of HB-2 are further emboldened by President Trump’s administration’s recent roll back of federal protections for transgender students. (link to news article)

I now continue this discussion by adding the two different business perspectives: from a senior executive in his mid-60’s speaking to a group of local business leaders, and from a recent college graduate.

From the senior executive: On February 23, I attended the quarterly Triangle Business Journal Power Breakfast with other Triangle area business leaders. The speaker was Whit Shaw, CEO of American City Business Journals, which distributes 43 different business publications across major US cities. To kick off the Q&A portion of the session, Triangle Business Journal editor Sougata Mukherjee asked Mr. Shaw for his perspective on HB2.

“I can flat out tell you that it has changed the conversation about North Carolina,” he said, recounting conversations with executives across the country. “It has distracted us from the conversations that we should be having, namely, how are we going to keep growing? How are we going to provide good jobs for the people in this state? How are we going to get things done?” (Quote from TBJ article about the event, link to the full TBJ story)

Mr. Shaw did comment that the North Carolina economy is clearly losing significant amounts of revenue, including opportunities that we did not even know we were in the running for. He stated that we are continually spending time and money on this issue and thus losing sight of the real conversations we need to have that will determine our state’s future.

From a recent college graduate: My 24-year old very straight but definitely not narrow cousin Brandon just graduated with his Sociology degree from NC State while working full time. He enjoys discussing current events with me.

On the same day I attended the TBJ Power Breakfast, Brandon and I had this text conversation:

Blog author Stan Kimer with his cousin Brandon at his recent graduation from NC State. As a young millennial, Brandon understands the business impact of discriminatory laws.

BRANDON: “How horrible is this strip of protection by the Trump administration. So transgender students have no protection over the bathroom they can use now?”

ME: “It is now a big mess and is in limbo since it will now be state by state and by school district, plus there are still open court cases.”

BRANDON: “So pretty much all transgender people are going to migrate to the liberal states where they feel protected like New York, Colorado and California?”

ME: “That certainly could happen, especially with the talented ones who have the resources to move.”

BRANDON: “Yeah, it’s horrible”

Yes, an older senior executive gets it. Yes, a recent college graduate gets it. HB2 is a huge negative impact on our economy in terms revenue and workforce talent. Too bad our politicians don’t get it.

# # # # #

My earlier blogs on HB2:

Five Impacts of North Carolina’s Infamous HB2

On entertainer Cyndi Lauper’s alternative approach to boycotting NC over HB2

On the politics of division and hate that led to HB2.

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