Nathan Babcock, political director of the North Carolina Chamber of CommerceNSJ: Can you explain to readers how politics play a role in the economy?NB: Our philosophy at the Chamber is supporting policies that are pro-business and pro-job creation. Those policies do not happen without legislators being pro-leadership and business. We support bipartisan business practices and give legislators a scorecard or report card each year on how they voted to support our business agenda.NSJ: What are the top issues facing the business community in North Carolina?NB: Tax reform was No. 1 on our members’ lists for several years until 2013 when the governor and legislature passed the landmark tax reform which dropped down rates. Now, health care and education are the top issues. Businesses are seeing they must make changes per government policies that are increasing costs for them in relation to the Affordable Care Act. Businesses are seeing a skills gap between the skills need for companies and the education they are receiving.NSJ: How has the business economy improved or declined over the last four years?NB: On our last annual survey of members, we asked them if North Carolina’s economy was on the right track or the wrong track. Seventy-one percent of our members said our economy was on the right track and 12 percent said the economy was on the wrong track. In comparison to the 2009 survey, 66 percent of our members said the North Carolina economy was worse than the American economy and 18 percent said it was better. We have seen our economy improve in the last seven years.NSJ: Do you have any final thoughts on North Carolina’s business economy you feel readers should know?NB: There is a lot to be excited about in regards to North Carolina’s business economy, but we still have a long way to go. We are on the verge of becoming a top-10 state in tax competitiveness and we are moving in the right direction to be the best state in America for business.Dr. Harry Davis, professor of finance Appalachian State University; economist for the N.C. Bankers AssociationNSJ: How will the business economy fair under President-elect Trump’s leadership?HD: We will see a rollback of regulations coming out of Washington in regards to tax reform and the lowering of corporate and individual tax rates. Trump has said his economic policy is all about growth for the United States. We certainly need a faster growing economy in North Carolina and nationally. Strong economic growth is good for job creation, income, salaries and consumer spending.NSJ: The race for Governor is within a close margin. How would you compare the future of North Carolina under an additional four years with Gov. Pat McCrory versus a new term under challenger Roy Cooper?HD: North Carolina’s economy over the last four years has outperformed the national growth rates largely because of Gov. McCrory and the House of Representatives and Senate working together. Roy Cooper will assume a leadership where policy will be decided by the House and Senate which is driven by Republicans. He will not have a great impact on the economic policy of our state.NSJ: How do you foresee the banking industry over the next four years?HD: The banking industry has done well and will continue to do well. We will see rollbacks and parts of the Dodd-Frank [Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act] eliminated or scaled back which is good for community banks. There are many community banks throughout North Carolina and this bill hurt those banks.NSJ: Anything else you would like to add to the economic knowledge of readers?HD: President-elect Trump and Secretary Clinton both spoke of infrastructure spending in their campaigns. North Carolina needs to spend money on infrastructure at the state level and have funds spent at the federal level. The building and repairing of roads and bridges increase the rate of economic growth.
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