By: Jake Cashion, NC Chamber vice president of government affairs
Last year the state’s population grew by another 1.3% – one of the largest increases seen in the entire country.
The unintended consequence of that growth is our state’s current housing crisis. It has become one of the largest economic development issues for our business community as middle-income housing has become more and more sparse. In fact, in a May survey report commissioned by our NC Chamber Foundation, North Carolina voters ranked housing as the top issue facing the state.
I know the squeeze on Middle America all too well as my wife and I have owned a real estate company for the past 20 years. It’s what the industry often refers to as the “missing middle”, as the price range most Americans can afford has been dwindling—and it will continue to dwindle if we don’t work toward solutions in North Carolina.
And of course, there is a huge ripple effect here for businesses. If we do not have the space to house people—or it isn’t affordable—it becomes a workforce issue which becomes an economic development issue. It is also a human need and a key wealth builder.
That’s why at the NC Chamber we will be hyper focused on bringing the right folks to the table in the coming months to have critical discussions surrounding housing. We must broaden the base, as this is not a party line issue. It is one of, if not the largest, economic development issues we’re facing as a state—and we are committed to addressing solutions.
At the NC Chamber we are proud to be the No. 1 State for Business for the second year running, but to keep that prestigious accolade, we must tackle this increasingly problematic issue.
As we look to convene stakeholder groups, we want to hear from our membership. Tell us about your company’s housing challenges or housing solutions by reaching out to Director of Government Affairs Debra Derr.