We are moving closer and closer to Election Day on November 2nd! As part of encore’s election coverage—and to help our valued reader learn more about our potential elected officials’ commitment to our local economy—Live Local sent a survey to the candidates for County Commission, NC State Representative and NC State Senate to learn about their Live Local habits and attitudes. This week we speak with Susi Hamilton (www.susihamilton.com).
encore: Are you familiar with either the Buy Local ILM movement or the national Buy Local Movement? And in our current economic climate, do you feel the Buy Local Movement is important to the Cape Fear Region?
Susi Hamilton: Yes. With the current economic issues we are facing, business opportunities should first be offered within our own communities. I have a strong professional background in economic development. From 2001 to 2006, it was my honor to serve as the executive director of Wilmington Downtown, Inc. whose sole focus is to bring job opportunities and responsible development to downtown Wilmington. My campaign and leadership in the NC General Assembly will continue to focus on economic opportunities for New Hanover County. The knowledge and skills I have gained over a decade of professional experience will be aptly applied to this end. Since 2007, I have owned an operated my own small consulting business.
e: Do you feel that it is important for our government and educational institutions (ie UNCW, the community colleges and the school system) to source goods from our local area?
SH: Yes—dollars spent locally continue to “turn over” in the local community, supporting other local businesses, programs and families.
e: What percentage of your consumer spending do you dedicate toward locally owned businesses (farms and foods included)? Chain stores and restaurants? Shopping on the Internet?
SH: My family lives in downtown Wilmington. Approximately 90 percent of our goods and services come from locally owned and operated businesses. We rarely purchase anything on the Internet.
e: Do you support the Main Street Fairness Tax currently in committee in the US House of Representatives?
SH: Yes, the majority of my experience has been focused on downtown redevelopment and economic strategies to support small business. A community is largely identified by the health of its urban core. Main Street represents that urban core and is a harbinger for the overall health and stability of any community.
e: What is your position on Titan?
SH: I do not support Titan’s permitting application as it is currently written. Titan must be held to the new EPA standards for their emissions. It is up to the people of our community, our local government and our partners in economic development to determine what type of industries they will recruit. Local zoning should not permit industries that will adversely impact our natural resources as it did for Titan.
As a community we must create more collaborative and cohesive economic development efforts so that we are working to attract industries that are part of a sustainable environment and that everyone can support. If current environmental regulations are not sufficient to protect our environment, it is the responsibility of elected leaders and professionals to strengthen our environmental standards.
e: What is your position on film incentives?
SH: I actively support and promote competitive film incentives. Film and television production is a $5 billion clean industry that benefits thousands of businesses and families across North Carolina. There has been a misconception in the legislature that film incentives only benefit “over-compensated” actors and directors, which resulted in them placing a “million-dollar cap” on the incentives, when in fact it is the film craftsmen and technicians, support infrastructure and businesses like hotels, car rentals, lumber yards, office suppliers, etc., whose livelihoods have been dramatically affected. North Carolina’s inability to compete with Louisiana and Georgia has lost thousands of jobs, and hundreds of millions of dollars in production activity, which has jeopardized our former status as a viable production center.
e: How do you feel about annexation?
SH: It is critical that all government policies be revisited from time to time, and I support a review of our state’s annexation law. Cities should maintain the right to annex only if they are able to provide municipal services in a more reasonable time frame following annexation. If elected, I will sponsor legislation to strengthen the municipality’s disclosure process to the public and its requirement to implement a long-range plan for annexation prior to any action.
More importantly, I would push for a required annexation disclosure form to those purchasing a home within the proposed annexation areas so that citizens can make informed choices. The public has the right to full disclosure of local government’s plans for annexation.
e: Why should encore readers vote for you, and what should they know about you?
SH: My combined education, professional experience and passion for our community make me the best choice for District 18. While serving as senior long-range planner for the City of Wilmington and as executive director for Downtown Revitalization, I was responsible for assisting officials and business leaders in bringing as many as 1,500 jobs to Wilmington and managing a small business loan program. Currently, I am a self-employed business consultant and serve our community on many local boards and commissions. I am a strong supporter of the arts and culture in our region and currently serve as the chairman of the Cucalorus Film Festival’s board of directors.
As a strong advocate for environmental protection, I was recently appointed to the board of the Cape Fear Green Building Alliance. I am also happy to announce that I have recently received the endorsement from the Sierra Club Cape Fear Group and look forward to hearing more from their members about ways to improve our environment.
With a focus on quality education for all of our children, and cultural diversity throughout our community, I have also served on the board of Girls, Inc. and the Carousel Center for neglected and abused children.
I have spent my entire career working to create a strong and vibrant business climate in southeastern North Carolina. With over 15 years of experience in business, economic development and management, in the public and private sectors, I have a keen understanding of the needs of both big industry and small businesses. That understanding, combined with my natural leadership skills, will make me an effective leader in Raleigh.
e: Why are you affiliated with the party that you are representing?
SH: Not all Democrats believe in the same thing. I am a Democrat because it’s the party that supports issues that are important to me and our community at large, such as equal pay for women and minorities, environmental protection, equal education for all children—and actively working to create jobs.