Tonight, Governor Roy Cooper will deliver his fourth State of the State address, emphasizing that North Carolina is at a pivotal moment with opportunities for historical investments rebuilding North Carolina’s infrastructure, communities and economy. The speech will outline a vision for building enduring prosperity in every corner of the state for decades to come.
In his remarks, Governor Cooper will highlight transformational investments the state has made in child care, workforce development, and broadband and clean water infrastructure. The speech will also focus on investing in our workforce, which is the bedrock of North Carolina’s economy, growing the clean energy economy, supporting safe, healthy communities and more.
While addressing assembled state leaders, the Governor will recognize four North Carolinians with first-hand experience in these areas:
Rhonda Rivers, Charlotte – Regional Director of Curriculum and Training, LeafSpring Schools
Rhonda Rivers is the Regional Director of Curriculum and Training for LeafSpring Schools in Charlotte and has worked at LeafSpring since August 2008. LeafSpring Schools received a Child Care Stabilization Grant, administered by NCDHHS starting in Fall 2021, which allowed the school to provide ongoing bonuses for their staff in the effort to recruit and retain high-quality teachers.
Since October 2021, 4,379 child care facilities in 99 counties in North Carolina have received funding totaling $835 million through the Child Care Stabilization Grant program, which is federal funding administered by NC DHHS. Governor Cooper has toured child care centers across the state to highlight how this funding is helping these centers stay open so children can learn and parents can go to work. 98% of total eligible child care programs have received grants.
Russell Devane, Ivanhoe - Ivanhoe Resident and Retired U.S. Army Quartermaster
Russell Devane is an active member of the Ivanhoe community who worked closely with NCDEQ and Sampson County’s local government to help access funding for a new water system. Sampson County will receive $13.2 million to provide water system connections for the community of Ivanhoe. When Governor Cooper visited the community to learn more about the project, Devane spoke about how an outdated water system caused frequent problems with faulty pumps in winter to dirty water that has sometimes made washing clothes impossible.
North Carolina is investing an unprecedented $2.3 billion over two years supporting critical work to improve clean water infrastructure across the state. In February 2023, Governor Cooper announced $462.9 million in funding for 249 infrastructure projects that will strengthen North Carolina’s drinking water, wastewater and stormwater systems.
Meredith Draughn, Burlington - Guidance Counselor, B. Everett Jordan Elementary School
Meredith Draughn is the school counselor at B. Everett Jordan Elementary School in Alamance County. She is the 2023 American School Counseling Association’s School Counselor of the Year, and the first national School Counselor of the Year from North Carolina. North Carolina and the nation are seeing concerning increases in mental health challenges, particularly in young people, and educators across the state play a critical role in supporting students.
Governor Cooper has made investing in student mental health a top priority. In April 2022, Governor Cooper announced GEER funding to support Youth Mental Health First Aid training for adults who work with youth ages 12-18, including teachers and school staff, and in February 2023 announced additional GEER funding to support mental health initiatives for college and university students. Governor Cooper also invested $40 million in GEER funds in August 2020 to K-12 public schools to help schools address students’ physical and mental health needs during the pandemic.
Phyllis Pillmon, Ahoskie; Telemedicine User and Kim Schwartz, CEO of Roanoke Chowan Community Health Center
Phyllis Pillmon lives in Ahoskie and thanks to reliable broadband, receives health care through the Roanoke Chowan Community Health Center and is able to employ a hybrid plan that utilizes both in-person and telemedicine services to make sure she gets the care she needs. She sees her regular doctor in-person and is able to connect with specialists as far away as Charlotte for other consultations. For too many North Carolinians who lack access to high-speed internet, particularly in rural communities, telehealth hasn’t been an option. That’s about to change.
Thanks to funds from the federal government, North Carolina finally has the resources to expand broadband and connect every home in the state to high-speed internet. But closing the digital divide doesn’t just mean connecting people to the internet, it means making sure they can use it. North Carolina established the first ever Office of Digital Equity and Literacy to ensure people of all backgrounds can get the devices and training they need to connect to education, health care and the global economy through the internet.
Watch the Governor’s remarks during the State of the State tonight here.