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Sen. Kay Hagan speaks with community members during an April 2012 visit to Boone. File photo.

Originally published: 2013-03-25 13:47:01
Last modified: 2013-03-25 13:47:01

John Cooper selected for Hagan's small business committee

John Cooper, owner of Mast General Store, is among four co-chairs selected to lead Sen. Kay Hagan's new Small Business Advisory Committee, the senator announced Monday.

The committee is intended to provide advice on legislative issues and assist the senator with policy proposals to support the state's small businesses. Hagan serves on the Senate Small Business Committee.

"This advisory committee will make me an even stronger voice for North Carolina small businesses, which are the key to our state's economic recovery," Hagan said in a statement released Monday. "A strong support system for small business owners means jobs in our state, and jobs are my top priority.

"A robust dialogue between the small businesses owners on the ground and the people who craft legislation is crucial to making sure policies in Washington reflect the needs of our small businesses," Hagan continued. "I am eager to hear from the advisory committee about their most pressing needs, and I will be ready to take their advice and policy ideas back to Washington."

The advisory committee will be comprised of 15 to 20 small business owners and advocates from across the state who will meet with Hagan and her staff throughout the year.

In addition to Cooper, the co-chairs will be: Oscar Wong, founder and owner of Highland Brewing Company in Asheville and the Small Business Administration's 2012 Person of the Year; Andrew Harris, president of the N.C. Institute of Minority Economic Development; and Paul Wetenhall, president of Ventureprise, a public-private nonprofit affiliated with UNC-Charlotte that seeks to be a catalyst for entrepreneurial innovation.

Cooper said he was approached about a month ago to join the committee. Hagan visited the Mast General Store in downtown Boone in April 2012 during her "Conversations with Kay" tour across the state.

"I think it's an opportunity for her to get in touch with a variety of businesses about what issues are important for her to pursue," Cooper said of the new advisory committee.

Cooper said the chairmen have had one conference call so far and will likely meet in person or by phone three to four times a year.

He said education funding and ensuring that North Carolina residents are prepared for the jobs of today and tomorrow are among his concerns.

"I welcome other people relating to me issues that they want brought to the table," he said.