On June 13th members of President Barack Obama’s Council on Jobs and Competitiveness came to the State of North Carolina and held a meeting at North Carolina Central University (NCCU) School of Law. The President’s Council sought ideas and suggestions from local leaders about how to accelerate job growth and economic development.
In a spirited 90-minute round-table discussion, representatives of Research Triangle Park businesses, nonprofits, governments and educational institutions offered their views about policies and strategies that promote job creation, and about those that impede it.
The session held at the law school was one of five similar gatherings in the region held in conjunction with President Obama’s visit to Durham later in the day, which included a speech by President Obama at Cree Inc, a major manufacturer of LED lighting located in the Research Triangle Park.
Melody C. Barnes, President Obama’s Domestic Policy Advisor and Director of the White House Domestic Policy Council presided over the meeting and also served as moderator of the session. Ms. Barnes stated that North Carolina was chosen as the site for Monday’s meetings “because of what you’re doing,”. The Research Triangle is notable for its “dramatic focus on innovation” and for its collaborations between the public and private sectors, she said, adding, “We want to take those lessons to the rest of the country for job-creation purposes.” Prior to her appointment with the Obama Administration, Barnes was Executive Vice President for Policy at the Center for American Progress and she also served as Chief Counsel to Senator Edward M. Kennedy on the Senate Judiciary Committee. Barnes received her law degree from the University of Michigan School of Law.
Glenn Adams, NCCU Law Class of 1984 and Chairman of the NCCU Board of Trustees, was one of several speakers who pointed out that reductions in Federal Pell Grants and other financial aid to students have had the effect of stifling entrepreneurship and job creation. “Students who graduate from college with heavy debts need jobs right away,” he said. “You can’t be an entrepreneur who’s creating jobs if you need to repay your loans.”
Dean Raymond Pierce stated that “it is an honor to have President Obama’s Jobs Council meet at North Carolina Central University and the law school is particularly honored to be the host of the meeting.”