'The best is yet to come' says Secretary of Commerce Decker
"The best is yet to come," Secretary of Commerce Sharon Decker told a group of Rutherford County and North Carolina leaders Tuesday during a reception in her honor at the Foundation.
Decker, who was asked to join Gov. Pat McCrory's cabinet in December, said better days are ahead for the people of the county and state and it will require everyone working together, "hand in hand" to bring more jobs and expand existing jobs here.
She said the state "has a lot to offer" and for other companies to want to come to the state, there must be tax reform and tax restructure, which is already being discussed in her department. She said there are other ways companies will get to know "who we are."
Decker said there will be fundamental changes to help grow the state, "which are all right here." She said talked about five pillars in Rutherford County — health care, education, arts/culture/tourism; economic development and quality of life — that attract people to the county and to the state.
She said the changes "begin right here. Engaging in each other. Raleigh can help that ... But what you are doing here is no less important that what is happening in Raleigh," she said.
She said Republicans and Democrats must work "hand-in-hand" in order to create jobs for the state and to help bridge the gap, which is a job for all North Carolinians and the power to change the economic environment "is right here in this room."
Decker said living in rural Rutherford County has given her a greater perspective on the state.
She said when she came to the county to work for The Tanner Companies, she was taught about the change in business atmosphere and later with first hand experiences she knew the struggles of beginning small businesses and seeing them be less than successful due to the economic climate of the county.
"I also saw neighbors helping neighbors in need. I saw the health care needs of people. I learned about the value of rural life," she said.
Economic Development Commission Chair Terry Hines told Decker and the audience there are many opportunities and "positives in Rutherford County" when people are looking to locate in the area.
He said positives include a diversified educational system, Isothermal Community College, workforce training, county and city elected officials willing to work together and "Sharon Decker."
Hines and others said they did not know of a person who was a better choice for Secretary of Commerce than Decker, who has an understanding of business and people.
North Carolina Rep. Mike Hager said "North Carolina is serious about moving forward" and Senator Ralph Hise said in order for the state and county to be competitive with other areas, isn't about buildings or infrastructure. "It's right here in this room ... when the community can come together
Hise said the "strength and future" of Rutherford County is unity. "Better days are ahead of us ... not behind," he said.
About 150 people attended the noon luncheon hosted by Rutherford County Commissioners.
County Commissioner Chair Julius Owens and Vice-Chair Bill Eckler also addressed the crowd and expressed confidence of Decker in her role.