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The Competitiveness Commission

With the 21st century looming, Gov. James B. Hunt, Jr., created the Commission for a Competitive North Carolina in 1994 to help the state undertake a serious self-examination. He challenged the commission — a bipartisan group of 70 business, education, nonprofit, and elected leaders — to map a long-term vision for the state's future and to chart a course for translating the vision into action.

The following year the commission released Measuring Up to the Challenge: A Prosperous North Carolina in a Competitive World. The report outlined a vision for the state and identified eight critical area for public attention, all based on extensive research and consensus building. But the commission also concluded that continuing progress could not be assured by a one-time effort. It recommended that the North Carolina General Assembly establish a permanent Progress Board to serve as an ongoing mechanism to continue and guide the process.

A Vision for North Carolinain the 21st Century
     From Measuring Up to the Challenge

North Carolina will be a desirable place to live a productive, rewarding, and satisfying life. Its people will have a shared sense of place, stewardship, and values. North Carolinians will enjoy:

• A high quality of life, with stable families and healthy children, safe and vibrant communities, outstanding educational and cultural opportunities, options for enrichment of the human spirit, a beautiful and sustainable natural environment, and a feeling of optimism and control over their individual and collective futures.

• A growing competitive and advanced economy, with globally competitive enterprises; an educated, skilled, and highly productive workforce with a commitment to lifelong learning; fulfilling work; widely shared prosperity, wisely used environmental resources; and an infrastructure for global movement of products, services, people, and ideas.

• A strong sense of community, with a commitment to shared values and vision, civic responsibility, fair treatment for all, a respect for individual differences, a receptivity to change, and a fully engaged citizenry.

• An efficient and accountable government that facilitates productive use of the collective energy and resources of the people, communities, businesses, and institutions of our state.

The Progress Board

The legislature adopted the commission's recommendation and established the North Carolina Progress Board as a permanent entity of state government in 1995. Its 24 members are appointed by the governor, the leadership of the N.C. House and Senate, and the board itself. The governor serves as the chair. Initially housed in the Department of Administration, it now is attached for administrative purposes to the University of North Carolina Board of Governors.

The legislation creating the Progress Board outlined eight broad areas for the board's attention:

• A Prosperous Economy
• Quality Education for All
• A Sustainable Environment
• Healthy Children and Families
• Safe and Vibrant Communities
• A High-Performance Workforce
• 21st-Century Infrastructure
• Accountable Government and Active Citizenry

Over the next six years, the Progress Board worked with citizens, public officials, scholars, and many others to elaborate on the vision originally drafted by the Commission for a Competitive North Carolina. The results, documented in periodic reports, culminated in North Carolina 20/20 — a comprehensive report describing the considerable challenges facing the state and presenting goals, measures, and targets for improvement in all eight issue areas. We came to call the issue areas imperatives, in recognition of the critical importance of each one to North Carolina's continued prosperity.

Throughout this process and continuing after the release of North Carolina 20/20, the board sought to involve citizens statewide in debating the state's priorities and strategies for the future. We held focus groups on specific issues and community assemblies that engaged citizens on all eight imperatives. We met with community groups, to tell them about our work and hear their response. We spoke with legislative groups, municipal and county leaders, and advocacy organizations. We also cooperated with the UNC Center for Public Television in the production of a two-hour special based on the North Carolina 20/20 report.

Our work showed us the deep commitment North Carolinians have for our state and the deep perplexity many feel when confronted with questions about the state budget. In answer, the Progress Board in 2003 released Our State, Our Money — A Citizens' Guide to the North Carolina Budget. In plain English, the guide explains how decisions are made on revenues and expenditures, sources of money and where it goes, and how individual citizens can affect the process.

With the creation of this new website, the board takes another step toward engaging citizens in public discussion and providing citizens and leaders alike with informative and useful tools for decision-making.