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Two stories on the N&O’s Page One Sunday struck me as related.
 
One was the fight over a chicken processing plant in Nash County. The other was whether a state government “reset” can balance the budget.
 
Like many things these days, the linkage hit me because of the work I’ve done on my Jim Hunt biography.
 
Hunt was a jobs governor, a relentless recruiter for the state. He also was – and remains – a “grow the pie” guy. He became convinced early on – including after spending two years as an economic adviser in Nepal – that the best way to improve society is to grow the economic pie.
 
The budget debate focuses on two strategies: cutting spending and raising revenues. But there’s another way to raise revenues: create jobs, generate economic growth and watch more money flow into the state’s coffers.
 
Today, though, job creation seems to take a back seat to environmental protection. There’s the Nash chicken plant. There’s the long-running fight over the Titan cement plant in NewHanoverCounty. And there’s the recent sinking of the state’s megaport project.
 
All would create jobs – lots of jobs. All would generate more economic activity. And I wager that the environmental challengers each present are manageable with today’s technology (which, by the way, creates jobs).
 
Democrats pursue the holy grail of “green jobs.” But there aren’t that many such jobs, and it’s going to be a long haul before wind and solar power create the numbers of jobs involved in the chicken plant, cement plant and megaport – construction jobs and permanent jobs.
 
Governor Perdue has struggled to find the balance. But Republicans maintain that lower taxes and less regulation will get us out of this economic and budgetary hole.
 
We’ll set aside the megaport plan for megacost reasons. That leaves the chicken and cement plants as opportunities for the Governor and the Republicans to grow the pie.
 
Will either – or both – step up? Or will they duck?
 
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