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Hendersonville Times-News - Pat McCrory Talks Employment in the Mountains

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Hendersonville Times-News - Pat McCrory Talks Employment in the Mountains

Jobs and how to bring more of them to North Carolina was the focus of a visit by Charlotte Mayor and Republican gubernatorial candidate Pat McCrory on Wednesday as he toured the Manual Woodworkers and Weavers factory in Hendersonville.

The Henderson County visit was one of several stops McCrory made across the state as part of his "Bring Jobs to North Carolina" tour. The candidate said he is working to bring awareness of the "number one issue in the state right now," which is the economy and providing jobs.

"I am emphasizing bringing jobs to the state and I am traveling throughout the state to first meet with companies, entrepreneurs and large businesses to hear their feedback, to see what their challenges are and to build relationships," he said. "I think that's the governor's job, to build relationships. There are a lot of people worried about their jobs and economic security in the future."

Manual Woodworkers and Weavers was started in 1932 by Lemuel and Sandra Oates. The private, family-owned business, which includes the couple's sons, Travis and Bob, moved in 1990 from its original location in the Bat Cave community to its current location on Howard Gap Road in Hendersonville.

The company employs 350 people and produces tapestry wall decor, tapestry afghans, decorative pillows and tapestry tabletop products. Manual Woodworkers and Weavers has a second facility in Spindale in Rutherford County. The company ships its products throughout the United States and overseas, said Jim Clarke, chief financial officer. The factory sells its products locally at A Day in the Country outlet store on Sugarloaf Road in Hendersonville.

Providing economic incentives, such as tax breaks, and increasing the potential labor pool, especially where vocational jobs are concerned, would be the core of his jobs program if he is elected governor, McCrory said. "In talking with North Carolina principals and school administrators, I have talked about tying in our education policy with our jobs policy," he said. "I am recommending putting more emphasis on vocational and technical training in our high schools and re-establishing that as the primary emphasis of our community college system. I think there has been kind of an elitism of assuming that everyone wants and needs a college degree. Not everyone wants one and the economy doesn't necessarily support that." He added: "What I am hearing from employers is that they are looking for electricians, welders, health care workers — jobs that don't require a four year degree, but that pay well."

Economic incentives must be an integral part of the state's strategy for luring industry to North Carolina, he said.

"One of the dilemmas we have is that we have one of the highest income and corporate tax rates in the nation," McRory said. "That is a recruitment detriment to bringing jobs here. We are losing that economic advantage. If they (businesses) can't find qualified labor and it costs them more to work here, they will go elsewhere."

North Carolina's individual income tax rate is 7 percent. The state's corporate tax rate is 6.9 percent.

A common complaint from Western North Carolina counties is that they get left out of the picture when it comes to industry recruitment statewide. McCrory said he would work to bring jobs to the mountains, but added that when new companies locate in the eastern part of the state, the western counties still benefit.

"I think there's a feed off that which can go all the way from the Piedmont to the west," McCrory said. "The governor is the greatest salesperson for the state. Employers want to be courted because they are paying such a huge tax bill. I am in favor of offering tax incentives, especially in those areas where we have gaps in the economy, such as the loss of manufacturing."

Manual Woodworkers and Weavers was pleased to be included in McCrory's "Bring Jobs to N.C." tour, Clarke said.

"We are very proud that Mayor McCrory has a program to bring jobs into North Carolina and we certainly support the other corporate tax incentives that he is espousing," Clarke said Wednesday. "We are happy he is visiting our factory today so we can show him our innovative North Carolina made products."


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