GENERAL ASSEMBLY OF NORTH CAROLINA
SENATE BILL DRS25008-MQ-19A* (01/23)
Short Title: BRIGHT Futures Act.
Senator Meredith (Primary Sponsor).
A BILL TO BE ENTITLED
AN ACT encouraging the establishment of bright markets by adding the digital infrastructure necessary for economic development and INNOVATION in key markets, including BROADBAND, retail online services, internet of things, gridpower, health care, and training and education.
Whereas, North Carolina's population of residents living in rural areas is the second largest of any state, with more than 3.3 million people living in the 85 counties considered rural; and
Whereas, these areas have historically been last to receive the necessary investment for the infrastructure required to support advances in economic development, including investment for basic roads, water, electricity, or telephone service, requiring public and private leaders to develop new and innovative approaches or business models to encourage or assist in the development of this infrastructure; and
Whereas, the rapid advances in gigabit connectivity and automation threaten the economic viability of these areas if steps are not taken to develop the digital infrastructure necessary to allow those in rural areas to take advantage of digitally integrated products and services; and
Whereas, the General Assembly has previously looked to local solutions, like member‑owned utilities and public‑private partnerships, as an effective way to provide for the development of the infrastructure necessary to support economic development in rural and underserved areas; and
Whereas, the General Assembly has long recognized that digital computing and communications technology is the key element of infrastructure for connecting each person to the economic development opportunities of the twenty‑first century and has taken steps to directly advance the development and use of this infrastructure where possible through programs like the School Connectivity Initiative and Digital Learning Plan; and
Whereas, it is the intent of the General Assembly to rapidly develop the digital infrastructure necessary for economic development and innovation in key market segments, including Broadband, Retail online services, Internet of things, GridPower, Health care, and Training and education, known collectively by the acronym "BRIGHT" markets, and to use all means necessary to promote and encourage the development of this infrastructure so that each person in North Carolina has the ability to connect to opportunities presented by the growth in these BRIGHT market segments; Now therefore,
The General Assembly of North Carolina enacts:
SECTION 1. G.S. 143B‑472.127 reads as rewritten:
"§ 143B‑472.127. Programs administered.
(a) The Rural Economic Development Division shall be responsible for administering the program whereby economic development grants or loans are awarded by the Rural Infrastructure Authority as provided in G.S. 143B‑472.128 to local government units. The Rural Infrastructure Authority shall, in awarding economic development grants or loans under the provisions of this subsection, give priority to local government units of the counties that have one of the 80 highest rankings under G.S. 143B‑437.08 after the adjustment of that section. The funds available for grants or loans under this program may be used as follows:
(1) To construct critical
water and wastewater facilities or to provide other physical infrastructure
needs, including, but not limited to, natural gas,
broadband, and rail
to sites where these facilities will generate private job‑creating
investment. The grants under this subdivision shall not be subject to the
provisions of G.S. 143‑355.4.
(1a) To construct digital infrastructure needed to support broadband, computing, and communications components where these facilities will generate private job‑creating investment. The grants under this subdivision shall not be subject to the provisions of G.S. 143‑355.4.
SECTION 2. G.S. 143‑128.1C(a) reads as rewritten:
"§ 143‑128.1C. Public‑private partnership construction contracts.
(a) Definitions for purposes of this section:
(8) Public‑private project. – A capital improvement project undertaken for the benefit of a governmental entity and a private developer pursuant to a development contract that includes construction of a public facility or other improvements, including paving, grading, utilities, physical infrastructure, digital infrastructure to support broadband, computing, and communications components, reconstruction, or repair, and may include both public and private facilities.
SECTION 3. G.S. 143B‑472.80 is amended by adding a new subdivision to read:
"§ 143B‑472.80. North Carolina Board of Science, Technology, and Innovation; creation; powers and duties.
The North Carolina Board of Science, Technology, and Innovation of the Department of Commerce is created. The Board has the following powers and duties:
(5) On or before May 1, 2017, and annually on January 1 thereafter, the Board shall report to the Governor, the chairs of the House of Representatives Appropriations Committee on Agriculture and Natural and Economic Resources, the chairs of the Senate Appropriations Committee on Natural and Economic Resources, the Fiscal Research Division, the Secretary of Commerce, and any North Carolina nonprofit corporation with which the Department of Commerce contracts pursuant to G.S. 143B‑431.01 on the impact that technology and innovation in the BRIGHT Markets is having on economic growth and development in this State, including recommendations for increasing that impact. As used in this subdivision, the term "BRIGHT Markets" means the following market segments: broadband, retail online services, the internet of things, the power grid, health care, and training and education. The report shall include:
a. An evaluation of the impact of the North Carolina Providing Access to Capital for Entrepreneurs and Small Businesses Act in S.L. 2016‑103 on investment in BRIGHT Market enterprises for the previous reporting year and recommendations for increasing that impact.
b. Recommendations for the establishment and funding of a BRIGHT Futures Innovation Fund, to be administered by the Office of Science, Technology, and Innovation of the Department of Commerce, that would be funded for at least five years to be used to provide annual grants or loans to accelerate innovation by and investment in enterprises in BRIGHT Market segments."
SECTION 4. G.S. 115D‑5.1(f) reads as rewritten:
"§ 115D‑5.1. Workforce Development Programs.
(f) The State Board shall
report on an annual basis to the Joint Legislative Education Oversight
on:on all of the following:
(1) The total amount of funds
received by a company under the Customized Training
(1a) The types of services sought by the company, whether for new, expanding, or existing industry.
(2) The amount of funds per
trainee received by that
(3) The amount of funds
received per trainee by the community college delivering the
(4) The number of trainees
trained by the company and community
(5) The number of years that company has been funded.
(6) An assessment of how the Customized Training Program has been used to support companies in BRIGHT Market segments, including recommendations on how these efforts can be expanded or aligned with nondegree certification programs to increase employment in jobs shown in the NCWorks Online system that require those nondegree certifications. As used in this subdivision, the term "BRIGHT Market" means the following market segments: broadband, retail online services, the internet of things, the power grid, health care, and training and education."
SECTION 5. G.S. 143B‑438.14 is amended by adding a new subsection to read:
"§ 143B‑438.14. "No Adult Left Behind" Initiative.
(e) On or before May 1, 2017, and annually on January 1 thereafter, the NCWorks Commission shall submit to the Governor and to the chairs of the House of Representatives Appropriations Committee on Agriculture and Natural and Economic Resources, the chairs of the Senate Appropriations Committee on Natural and Economic Resources, and the Fiscal Research Division the following regarding BRIGHT Market segments, which phrase means broadband, retail online services, the internet of things, the power grid, health care, and training and education:
(1) An assessment of current adult educational programs to expand economic opportunities for adult workers in BRIGHT Market segments.
(2) An evaluation of nondegree certifications, as reflected in the NCWorks Online system, that are being offered, including recommendations for how certification programs can be expanded, accelerated, and made more readily accessible.
(3) An evaluation of how data in the NCWorks Online system is made available for use in conjunction with other workforce and education data in systems operated by other State agencies, including the Department of Information Technology. The evaluation shall include recommendations for how information can be more readily shared with public and private enterprises through application interfaces and open data frameworks to accelerate and increase employment in the BRIGHT Market segments."
SECTION 6. Section 15.1 of S.L. 2016‑94 is amended by adding two new subsections to read:
"SECTION 15.1.(e) On or before May 1, 2017, the Department of Commerce shall supplement the report submitted pursuant to subsection (b) of this section with all of the following:
(1) An evaluation of the impact of the inclusion of digital infrastructure in G.S. 143‑128.1C(a)(8) and G.S. 143B‑472.127(a)(1a) on the ability of individuals and communities to pursue public‑private partnerships to develop digital infrastructure in underserved areas and recommendations on how to accelerate development efforts.
(2) An evaluation of how funds allocated for downtown revitalization projects in Section 15.12(a) have been used to support the development of digital infrastructure, with recommendations for how future grants may be used in conjunction with a BRIGHT Futures Innovation Fund if that Fund is proposed by the North Carolina Board of Science, Technology, and Innovation pursuant to G.S. 143B‑472.80(5)b..
(3) Recommendations for ways the Rural Economic Development Division, North Carolina Rural Electrification Authority, Labor Force Development Council, Rural Infrastructure Authority, Community Assistance Division, Employment and Training Division, Job Training Coordinating Council, along with the Departments of Information Technology, Department of Environmental Quality, Department of Labor, Department of Health and Human Services, Department of Public Instruction, North Carolina Community College System, The University of North Carolina, and the North Carolina Independent Colleges and Universities to align the resources and programs targeted at and available to connect people in rural communities with the opportunities presented by the growth in the BRIGHT Market segments.
"SECTION 15.1.(f) As used in subsection (e) of this section, the following meanings apply:
(1) BRIGHT Market means the following market segments: broadband, retail online services, the internet of things, the power grid, health care, and training and education.
(2) Digital infrastructure means the components that support broadband, computing, and communications."
SECTION 7. This act is effective when it becomes law.