Documenting the American South Logo
oral histories of the American South
Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Sherwood Smith, March 23, 1999. Interview I-0079. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Various politicians help spur growth in North Carolina

Smith credits North Carolina's governors and a number of other politicians for encouraging job growth in the state.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Sherwood Smith, March 23, 1999. Interview I-0079. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) in the Southern Oral History Program Collection, Southern Historical Collection, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Full Text of the Excerpt

JM: Anybody you would single out maybe as say secretary, secretaries of commerce over the years? [Were there] gubernatorial administrations that have been especially, you think, forward looking in this respect? SS: Well, often one talks about Luther Hodges who was lieutenant governor when William Umstead died, maybe in 1953 or there abouts, and served for six or seven years and then as governor. [He was] a businessman, a very talented person, a very good organizer, a leader -- someone who certainly promoted economic development and growth, promoted the Research Triangle. He was later secretary of commerce, as you mentioned, and then came back to North Carolina. Following him, Terry Sanford. Then [there was] Dan Moore, Bob Scott, Jim Holshouser, Jim Hunt, Jim Martin, Jim Hunt again. I think we’ve a had a succession of governors who were quite different individuals, obviously, but who, in one way or another, all supported this theme of more jobs and better jobs for North Carolinians with due regard to other needs -- environmental needs. At one time we were in the forefront, I think, in the south, of transportation. We had a statewide highway transportation system that got us off to a good start in the ‘50s. I think Luther A. Hodges is entitled to a great deal of credit, but I think we tend to stop there perhaps prematurely and to not recognize--. He got many things started, and then Terry Sanford came along. Then, Dan More came a long. Then, Bob Scott came along and Jim Holshouser, Jim Hunt, Jim Martin, and Hunt again. All of them, in very different ways, have continued to try to keep the triumvirate of business and education and government together and focused on a better economy. Jim Hunt has been governor now for fifteen years. He certainly had the opportunity, that I think he’s used wisely, to promote the state. Because of his continuity in office, he’s made contacts. He’s had relationships. He’s built a strong network that enables him to carry this forward very effectively. I think our congressional delegations have supported this too. It would be much harder to pick out individuals in the state legislature. They’re not as well known, but certainly going back to the early ‘60s, there were individuals such as Tom White in the Senate, Skipper Bowles in the Senate, Pat Taylor in the House. If I began to name them, I’d feel sorry later that I should’ve mentioned so and so. We’ve had state legislative leadership that has been responsive to the governors and that’s important in North Carolina because, until very recently, the governor didn’t have the veto power. We’ve been very much a state [that is] legislatively governed. You’ve had to have the legislature moving in. Kenneth Royal from Durham for many, many years certainly is in that category.