The public outcry
over North Carolina’s House Bill 2 made something clear to our team at ExitEvent
, that entrepreneurs care a lot about politics.
And they care most when they feel the actions of political leaders impact their ability to practice core values, recruit talented workers, build unique products, raise needed capital and grow viable and successful businesses.
North Carolina has steadily improved its image as a top place to start and run innovative businesses, ranking fourth in a high-profile study
by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce just last week. Our collaborative spirit and connectedness stood out from other regions of the country where entrepreneurship is also growing.
We want to be sure that extends to state political leaders too, and especially in an election year.
That’s why we’ve invited four candidates to sit down for live interviews in front of members of the entrepreneurial community. The first is Attorney General Roy Cooper, who is the Democratic candidate for Governor of North Carolina (and pictured above).
Cooper, age 58, has served the state since 1986, when he was elected to the North Carolina House of Representatives. He was a state senator before he became Attorney General in 2001, a role he’s served continuously since. Cooper grew up working in tobacco fields in eastern North Carolina and then earned undergraduate and J.D. degrees from UNC-Chapel Hill. He previously ran his family’s law firm Fields & Cooper in Nash County.
Cooper’s role in government is to fight crime and protect consumers, and according to the N.C. Department of Justice website, he’s done that by cracking down on sex offenders, child predators and pornographers, increasing DNA testing of crime scene evidence, reforming mortgage laws, reducing pollution, training law enforcement to curtail school violence and instituting new tutoring and mentoring programs. In March, he announced he wouldn’t defend HB2 as the state’s attorney, a decision that caught flak from some members of the legislature and prompted calls for him to resign.
Past initiatives have included raising teacher pay and reducing class sizes and authoring North Carolina’s first children’s health insurance initiative. That's according to his campaign website.
He’ll sit for an interview with me before an invite-only audience of startup founders, employees, investors and community leaders gathered at American Underground in Durham on May 25. We’ll cover topics most relevant to the state’s innovation economy.
If you’d like to submit a question to be considered during the conversation, please email it to firstname.lastname@example.org by end of day Wednesday May 18.
The interview will be filmed and released publicly later via ExitEvent and WRAL.com.
Our role at ExitEvent is providing education and access to North Carolina entrepreneurs. We hope to make political leaders more accessible to the people building companies and new industries in the state. And we hope entrepreneurs will become more knowledgeable and informed about state politics as a result.
Asks are out to Governor Pat McCrory, Senator Richard Burr and former State Rep. Deborah Ross (the Democratic candidate for U.S. Senate). Stay tuned for information on future candidate conversations.