Chapel Hill-Carrboro Chamber of Commerce Calls Investments in Early Education “Smart Economic Decision”

April 26, 2011

Dear Senator Berger and Representative Tillis:

The Chapel Hill-Carrboro Chamber of Commerce would like to express its support for North Carolina’s Smart Start program. We understand that this year’s state budget presents a tremendous challenge, and that many programs are facing unprecedented cuts. It is our hope that North Carolina’s nationally recognized Smart Start program will not receive disproportionate cuts nor be severely curtailed in its ability to serve children, families, and their communities.

Investments in early education are a smart economic decision. The Institute for a Competitive Workforce (ICW), a project of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce reported, “[R]esearch shows that for every dollar invested today, savings range from $2.50 to as much as $17 in the years ahead.”

Not only do these early investments benefit young children, these programs allow North Carolinians to work. In North Carolina, 59% of all children under six live in families where all parents work, and each year, early learning programs allow 380,000 parents in our state to work.

Smart Start has been instrumental in increasing child care quality since its inception in 1993 and has grown into a nationally recognized model noted for its sustainability, quality, structure, and breadth. Preliminary research released last month by Duke University found that investments in Smart Start generate broad educational benefits. For example, the researchers found that North Carolina third-graders have higher standardized reading and math scores and lower special education placement rates in those counties that had received more funding for Smart Start and More at Four when those children were younger.

Here in Orange County, Smart Start is administered by the Orange County Partnership for Young Children. The Partnership’s role in monitoring, training, and supporting Smart Start programs grows in scope every year. With 16 funded programs, reaching more than three-thousand children a year, the Partnership supports direct service providers (DSP) in maintaining excellence and looking at how they can improve their programs through collaboration.

The Chapel Hill-Carrboro Chamber of Commerce and Smart Start both share a goal of building an educated work force that will enhance our community and quality of life for all. A solid investment in early education to support childhood development and working families not only helps a child develop into his or her potential, but also strengthens our economy and community.

We urge you to consider the important economic and educational role that Smart Start plays in local communities – including right here in the greater Chapel Hill community – and across North Carolina, and encourage you to strive to maintain this valuable program that has wisely invested in our most important resource – our future generation.

Aaron Nelson
President and CEO
Chapel Hill-Carrboro Chamber of Commerce
cc: Rep. Verla Insko
Rep. Joe Hackney
Rep. Bill Faison
Sen. Ellie Kinnaird
Sen. Bob Atwater
Thank You

Chapel Hill-Carrboro Chamber of Commerce

2011 Chamber Officers
Marc Pons, Chair Chapel Hill Tire Car Care Center
Barry Leffler, Vice Chair 1360 WCHL
Chris Barnes, Treasurer First Citizens Bank
Bob Saunders, General Counsel
Brooks Pierce, L.L.P.
2011 Board of Directors
John Anderson, Wells Fargo
Fred Black, Black Star Strategies
Lew Borman
Blue Cross and Blue Shield of NC Anthony Carey, The Siena Hotel
Millie Chalk, Duke Energy
Chris Derby, The UPS Store
David Dickson, TSI Healthcare
Joanne Fiore, Past Chair, AICPA
Mariana Fiorentino
Terra Nova Global Properties
Valerie Foushee
OC Board of Commissioners
Dr. Brian Goldstein UNC Hospitals
Pam Herndon, State Farm Laura Kiley, Kiley and Associates Mayor Mark Kleinschmidt
Town of Chapel Hill
Peter deLeon, University Mall
Scott Maitland, Top of the Hill
Richard Mann, UNC Chapel Hill
Torin Martinez, UNC Health Care
Molly O’Neill, Duke Medicine
Greg Overbeck
Chapel Hill Restaurant Group
Dr. Neil Pedersen
Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools
Roger Perry, East West Partners
Pat Phelan, Edward Jones Investments
Leslie Walden, Fidelity Investments
Zach Ward, DSI Comedy
Briggs Wesche, A Southern Season
Jerry Whortan
Chapel Hill-Carrboro YMCA
Paige Jennings Zinn, Jennings
Professional Staff
Simone Brackett (919.967.7075)
Member Relations Specialist
Meg Branson (919.357.9977)
Vice President, Membership
Laura Morrison (919.357.9989)
Program Director
Aaron Nelson, IOM (919.967.7077)
President and CEO
Kristen Smith (919.357.9988)
Member Engagement Coordinator
Abby Spoon (919.967.7076)
Director of Business Development
Sam Teabout (919.357.9975)
Finance Manager


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