Under the Dome

New group formed to push for cities and towns

A new bipartisan group of business and city leaders have formed group to push urban issues in the new Republican-controlled state government.

The group, called the N.C. Communities and Business Alliance, includes Democrats such as former Gov. Jim Hunt and Republicans such as former Charlotte mayor Richard Vinroot. The group recently held their inaugural meeting.

The group was formed at a time when the traditional voice of the towns and cities, the N.C. League of Municipalities, has been taking a political beating in the legislature on such issues as annexation.

“The idea came out of the League of Muncipalities that there ought to be a new voice up there for urban areas that represented their issues and there were plenty of business people who felt the same way,” said Vinroot, a two-time GOP candidate for governor.

“The idea is to try to bring business and local government as a voice to be heard in Raleigh,” Vinroot said.

“These are healthy cities,” Vinroot said. “We want to make sure the leaders in Raleigh understand that. As we watch Detroit sink and literally go out of business we are thankful we live here and our leaders don't have to live with those kinds of issues because we have such good, healthy metropolitan areas.''

The group's board includes Latimer Alexander, former High Point mayor; former Asheville Mayor Louis Bissette Jr; Robert Brown , CEO of B&C Associates of High Point; former state Rep. Pearl Burris-Floyd; state Commerce Secretary Keith Crisco; former state Rep. Lyons Gray; former gov. Jim Holshouser; former Gov. Hunt; former Raleigh City Councilman Philip Isley; former Salisbury Mayor Susan W. Kluttz; Loeroy Lail, owner of Hickory Furniture; Rep. Danial McComas; Roger Perry, chairman of East West Partners Management Co. in Chapel Hill, former Shelby Mayor Mike Philbeck; James Speed Jr, CEO of N.C. Mutual Life Insurance Co. in Durham; former Durham Mayor Nick Tennyson; Vinroot, and former Wilmington City Councilman Michael Youngblood.

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