Recently, Golden LEAF President, Chief Executive Officer Scott T. Hamilton sat down with the President of the North Carolina Association of County Commissioners (NCACC) and Washington County Commissioner Tracey Johnson via Zoom and filmed an episode of Critical Conversations. In this series, Scott talks with professionals about economic development issues affecting the state.
Commissioner Johnson has served as Chair of the Board of Washington County Commissioners, Chair of the Albemarle Commission Council of Government, and as a Board of Director of the National Association of Counties. Commissioner Johnson was sworn in as NCACC President in August 2022 at the association’s annual meeting for a one year term.
The NCACC is the official voice of all 100 counties on issues considered by the General Assembly, Congress, and federal and state agencies. The Association provides expertise to counties in the areas of advocacy, research, risk management, and education and leadership training.
Commissioner Johnson explained the origins of the NCACC and how it helps to enact positive economic change throughout the state. Like most organizations, the North Carolina County Commissioners Association works on priorities and strategies to help and support the people it serves. Commissioner Johnson summarized the goals for 2023-2024:
- Seek legislation, funding, and other efforts to expand digital infrastructure/broadband capability to the unserved and under-served areas and residents of the state.
- Seek additional revenue sources to address statewide public school and community college capital needs and ensure methods used to distribute school capital funding considers the needs of both low-wealth and growing counties.
- Support expansion of Medicaid as well as related funding and operational flexibility for counties to expand county workforce and necessary infrastructure.
As the president of the NCACC, Commissioner Johnson sets a Presidential Initiative for the year served as president. Commissioner Johnson’s Initiative is called “Connecting Counties: Expanding Broadband Access in N.C.” She explained that her initiative will help maximize the funding opportunities available to make sure that all counties can realize the opportunity and are able to expand broadband access to the underserved and unserved.
Commissioner Johnson said that she has noticed that all 100 counties are dealing with a strained workforce. She explained that there is a lack of workers for open positions, and this strain is having a direct impact on economic development. Commissioner Johnson mentioned that there are member services available through the NCACC to address pipeline issues for local government positions. She also noted that small businesses are having a particularly hard time getting the workers they need. Along with reestablishing the workforce, Commissioner Johnson mentioned the need for construction of schools across the state. While larger-wealth counties need more schools due to increases in enrollment, rural counties need help renovating or building new schools that are sometimes half a century old.
To learn more about the NCACC, its priorities, and services offered, visit https://www.ncacc.org/.
Critical Conversations is a feature in the Golden LEAF newsletter every month. The next edition will be in our March 9th edition of LEAF Lines.