Roy Cooper at Duke: The Path to Economic Growth Runs Through Education

Roy Cooper takes questions at the Politico Playbook. Photo by Megan Mendenhall
Roy Cooper, right, takes questions at the Politico Playbook. Photo by Megan Mendenhall

All politics is local and scarcely is that truer than in North Carolina, argued NC Governor Roy Cooper in conversation with POLITICO Playbook co-authors Jake Sherman and Anna Palmer Thursday at Duke.

Among his priorities are investing in K-12 education, pitching NC as a hub for Amazon’s second headquarters, and winning back the NC General Assembly for Democrats.

Speaking before more than 200 people in Penn Pavilion and an online audience, Cooper discussed how the future of North Carolina depends on investing in pre-K and K-12 education. That investment, he said depends upon keeping a strong tax base that can pay teachers higher salaries and invest in after-school programs.

A strong educational foundation is one of the attractive forces of North Carolina for companies such as Amazon, which is currently seeking a location for its second headquarters.

"What I tell them is that the number one advantage that we have is talent, workforce, innovation, entrepreneurship, the great universities and you combine that with quality of life ... [and] on top of that, the lower cost of living” all provide for an ideal work environment for Amazon, Cooper said.

He praised the state’s universities, from private institutions such as Duke to the state university system and its Historically Black Colleges and Universities, for their role as economic engines. “We are a state of great universities …  Our greatest asset is our universities.” 

He also emphasized the importance of repealing HB2, officially known as the Public Facilities Privacy & Security Act, in building the state as an economic powerhouse.  The law barred transgender individuals from using bathrooms outside their birth gender.

“Had [North Carolina] not repealed House Bill 2, we would not even be in the discussion, but we have more work to do in the area of fighting discrimination and encouraging diversity,” said Cooper when explaining how companies like Amazon would not have considered North Carolina as a place of business.