Local News
4:47 pm
Wed February 19, 2014

NC Commerce Privatization Tries To Take Shape

John Lassiter sits as the head of the table during the first meeting of the Economic Development Partnership of North Carolina.
John Lassiter sits as the head of the table during the first meeting of the Economic Development Partnership of North Carolina.
Credit Michael Tomsic

The private board that Governor Pat McCrory wants to take control of recruiting and retaining businesses in North Carolina met for the first time Wednesday. But there’s not too much that board can do until the state legislature gives it more authority.


The board is called the Economic Development Partnership of North Carolina, and it’s the private side of the public-private partnership Governor McCrory wants to recruit and retain businesses.

“Wants” is the key word – the state legislature has basically only given the governor permission to set it up.

At its first meeting in uptown Charlotte, interim chairman John Lassiter made it clear the state Commerce Department is still in charge.

“Incentives deals are still going to be controlled by the secretary of commerce and the organization that’s set up by state statute that’s set up to deal with project recruitment and retention,” he said. “That’s not going to change until the law is changed.”

But Lassiter said the private board can start working on personnel issues, and it went into closed session to do that. The plan is to switch Commerce employees who handle selling and marketing the state to the private side of the house, or lay them off.

That plan is based off legislation that didn’t pass last year. But Lassiter and Commerce Department officials are confident it will pass when the legislature reconvenes in May.

“The expectation is we’re kind of go-live time in early summer,” he said.

This public-private idea has its critics. For example, some worry there’ll be less transparency on how the state spends public money.

The Commerce Department has said those concerns will be addressed in whatever legislation passes.