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Charlotte, N.C. Forum on the Economic Promise of Investing in Early Education for All

CED hosted a luncheon forum on The Economic Promise of Investing in Early Education for All in Charlotte, NC. The forum, which attracted over 70 local business, civic and education leaders, was the second in a series CED is hosting with the generous support of the W.K. Kellogg Foundation.

CED was pleased to partner with Smart Start and the Charlotte Chamber on this effort. Smart Start of North Carolina is a public-private initiative that provides early education funding to all of the state's 100 counties. Smart Start funds are used to improve the quality of child care, make child care more affordable and accessible, provide access to health services and offer family support. Charlotte Chamber members realize that education plays a vital role in creating a vibrant local workforce. The Chamber's Education Committee advocates to strengthen North Carolina educational institutions, including those serving the state's youngest learners.

CED welcomed Robert J. Greczyn, Jr., CEO of Blue Cross Blue Shield NC, as keynote speaker. Mr. Greczyn emphasized the business case in support of investments in early learning and Blue Cross Blue Shield NC's involvement with early education efforts.

Additional speakers included Kit Cramer, Vice President, Economic Development, Charlotte Chamber of Commerce; Stephanie Fanjul, President, The North Carolina Partnership for Children, Inc.; Charles Kolb, President, CED; Barry Matherly, Executive Director, Lincoln Economic Development Association; Jocelyn Sargent, Program Director, W.K. Kellogg Foundation; Louise Stoney, Co-Founder, Alliance for Early Childhood Finance; and Ashley Thrift, Chair, The North Carolina Partnership for Children, Inc.

Barry Matherly, Executive Director, Lincoln Economic Development Association

The forum focused on the importance of investing in high-quality early education programs in North Carolina, while also touching on alternative funding measures. Dr. Louise Stoney outlined innovative policies other states are using to fund early education programs. Charlotte Chamber representative Kit Cramer discussed how increased investments in early learning will benefit long-term workforce development in Charlotte and Stephanie Fanjul stressed the importance of high quality early childhood education programs and suggested family-friendly policies businesses could implement.

Working in partnership, CED, Smart Start, and the Charlotte Chamber greatly increased the forum's impact. For the Raleigh based state-wide Smart Start office, collaborating with CED and the Charlotte Chamber on this event provided an excellent entrée point to Charlotte business, civic, and non-profit leaders. Smart Start's new President, Stephanie Fanjul, highly valued the opportunity to introduce herself to this community. Media opportunities generated by this forum allowed CED, Smart Start, and the Charlotte Chamber to take its message about the importance of investments in early childhood education to a larger audience.