Moore County Partners in Progress supports the upcoming voter referendum on the November 6th ballot that proposes to increase the local sales and use tax by one-quarter percent as a means to generate additional revenue that will be used for the sole purpose of supporting education in Moore County.
The one-quarter percent increase is projected to generate $2.5 to $3 million annually, and every penny of this revenue will remain in Moore County to support education. The funds will be used specifically for capital construction projects that include building new schools, improvements to existing schools, and maintenance.
Partners in Progress is the nonprofit economic development organization that serves all of Moore County, and our goal is to create new jobs and generate new capital investment that will increase economic prosperity in our communities and improve our quality of life. We work to achieve this goal through our efforts to recruit new businesses and industries into the county and to support our existing industries.
We cannot stress enough the critical role that quality education plays in these efforts. From an economic development viewpoint, quality education is vital as it ultimately leads to a quality workforce, and an essential component of any successful economic development model is ensuring that workforce needs are being met both locally and regionally.
In its annual survey of corporate executives, the economic development trade magazine Area Development has found year after year that the availability and quality of an area’s labor force is consistently one of the top factors that executives consider when deciding where to locate a business or industry. To be competitive, a community must have a highly-trained, proficient workforce readily available to fulfill the jobs of today and tomorrow for existing and prospective employers.
So how then is workforce relevant to the proposed ¼-cent sales tax increase?
While some may think that preparing and training people for employment is ultimately the role of post-secondary institutions like Sandhills Community College, the process truly should start much earlier in the K-12 classrooms. It is never too early to tap into a student’s interests and to start developing their skills for future careers.
The funding to be generated by the sales tax increase will be used to construct new schools that have better interior configurations to support collaborative learning and that have updated infrastructure to support the latest technologies. Existing schools will be improved by adding more classrooms and lab space in addition to other updates and expansions, all of which are conducive to helping students thrive. We want today’s students to become Moore County’s future workforce.
But we also must attract new talent into our communities to augment our labor force, and while Moore County’s exceptional quality of life and amenities such as the award-winning Moore Regional Hospital may be important considerations, it is the schools, particularly the appearance and quality, in a community that hugely influence the impression that potential newcomers, especially families, may have when deciding whether or not to move here. To ensure our schools convey the right message, Moore County must unreservedly support education and continually invest in its school system. The sales tax increase is one way to accomplish this.
The bottom line is that from our perspective, supporting local education by voting ‘FOR’ local sales and use tax at the rate of one-quarter percent (0.25%) in addition to all other state and local sales on the November 6th ballot is ensuring the availability of skilled, work-ready employees for existing and prospective employers. This continual pipeline of workers will help meet the workforce needs of our existing industries so they can thrive and expand and will improve Moore County’s competitiveness in attracting new companies to our communities. New and expanding industries, in turn, create new jobs and investment, which increases economic prosperity for all.