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Chamber Members Engage to Make NC a National Leader in Early-Childhood Literacy

The growing shortage of workers with the adaptable life skills needed to thrive in modern jobs – the skills gap – is one of the biggest challenges facing today’s job creators. And one of the best ways we can begin closing this gap in North Carolina is by engaging early to help cultivate essential career and life skills among the students who will make up tomorrow’s workforce. To that end, this morning leaders from a number of NC Chamber member companies joined with Jim Goodnight, CEO of SAS (a highly valued member of the Chamber) for a press conference at Creech Road Elementary School in Garner, where they spearheaded the release of a new report which demonstrates the important link between stronger investments in early-childhood literacy programs and a stronger, more work-ready workforce.

The new report, “Why Reading Matters and What to Do About It,” contains a number of specific policy recommendations for elected leaders to implement to help boost the efficacy of third-grade reading initiatives statewide. Early-childhood reading proficiency has been shown to be an important indicator of achievement later in life, both in the attainment of higher education and in career success. As such, investing more resources in third-grade reading programs is a no-brainer for our state if we one day hope to begin reversing our skills gap.

In addition to containing policy recommendations for elected leaders, “Why Reading Matters and What to Do About It” provides the business community with specific guidance on how we can become more involved to support these initiatives. The NC Chamber applauds the members of the Business Roundtable (BRT) whose dedication and hard work culminated in the report, and whose expertise in addressing this issue from a business standpoint was vital in compiling this employer-specific information. We would especially like to recognize the members of our Board of Directors who have lent their time and energy to the BRT:

  • Jim Goodnight, CEO, SAS • Venessa Harrison, president, AT&T North Carolina
  • Dale Jenkins, CEO, Medical Mutual Insurance Company of North Carolina
  • Jim Whitehurst, CEO, Red Hat, Inc.
  • In addition to these Board members, leaders from several other NC Chamber member companies, including Mike Lamach, CEO of Ingersoll Rand, and Tom Nelson, CEO of National Gypsum Company, also contributed their expertise to the report

Reading is an essential life skill and one of the most universally applied skills in the modern workplace. The return on investment our state can expect to see from a stronger focus on early-childhood reading initiatives cannot be overstated. With members of the BRT planning to meet with Gov. Cooper and legislative leaders after this morning’s event to discuss the importance of third-grade reading initiatives for North Carolina, we will continue to keep you informed on this crucial jobs issue.

Gary J. Salamido
Vice President, Government Affairs
North Carolina Chamber