Sep 21, 2022 - Politics & Policy

White House to host North Carolina mayors in manufacturing push

Charlotte Mayor Vi Lyles standing in front of North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper at a press conference.

Charlotte Mayor Vi Lyles standing in front of North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper. Photo: Andy McMillan/Axios Charlotte archives

The White House will host key North Carolina leaders, including the mayors of Raleigh and Charlotte, as President Biden looks to expand on his argument that his administration is restoring American manufacturing.

Why it matters: North Carolina is a crucial political battleground where Democrats are hoping to win a close Senate race and pick up a few seats in the House, in part by capitalizing on the passage of the Inflation Reduction Act, post-Roe momentum, and a growing population in urban and suburban Raleigh and Durham areas.

What we're watching: Wolfspeed, a silicon chip manufacturer, announced it will build a new factory in Chatham County, which is expected to create 1,800 jobs.

The details: The Mayors of Charlotte, Wilmington, Fayetteville, Greensboro, Winston-Salem, Chapel Hill, Raleigh, Concord, Kinston and Durham are confirmed to attend the half-day event tomorrow.

  • Rep. Kathy Manning (D-N.C.), who is defending her seat in North Carolina's 6th district from Republican nominee Christian Castelli, will also attend.
  • They'll be joined by state Rep. Pricey Harrison, state Sen. Michael Garrett and board of commissioner chairs Sig Hutchinson of Wake County and Melvin “Skip” Alston of Guilford County, among other local elected officials.
  • North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper will speak in a pre-recorded video message.

What they're saying: "I think there's a real kind of direct impact that North Carolina has felt, whether we're talking about new investments coming into the state or the impact that the expansion of electric vehicle manufacturing and battery manufacturing will have for the state," Julie Chavez Rodriguez, Senior Advisor to the President and Director of the White House Office of Intergovernmental Affairs, told Axios in an interview.

  • "The coupling of the university system with the workforce development opportunities into good paying union jobs again — we see as a real opportunity there."

By the numbers: About 135,000 more North Carolinians will receive health insurance next year due to the Inflation Reduction Act, according to HHS projections.

  • An estimated 170,000 additional North Carolina households will install rooftop panels as a result of incentives in newly passed legislation, according to White House estimates shared with Axios.
  • The US Army Corps of Engineers is spending $10.3 million to dredge Wilmington Harbor, and the Asheville Regional Airport received a $15 million grant from the Federal Aviation Administration in July after the passage of the bipartisan infrastructure bill.

The big picture: North Carolina is one of a handful of states — like Pennsylvania, Ohio and Wisconsin — where Democrats are trying to claw back working-class votes they lost to Trump in 2016.

Flashback: Democrats have not had presidential success here since 2008, when former president Obama narrowly carried the state. That same year, Cheri Beasley, then a former public defender and district judge, won a seat on the North Carolina Court of Appeals.

  • Beasley is now the Democratic nominee for U.S. Senate, running against Rep. Ted Budd (R-N.C.) for the seat of retiring Sen. Richard Burr (R-N.C.)

What's next: The White House says it will host conversations with leaders from all 50 states — aiming for one every week, with upcoming events Mid-Atlantic, Midwestern and Southwestern states.

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