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Governor Cooper stops in Kinston Tuesday for Hometown Strong initiative

KINSTON, N.C. (WNCT) - Governor Roy Cooper made a visit in the East on Tuesday. 

It was part of his Hometown Strong initiative that began in February. 

Hometown Strong is an effort to make sure North Carolina's rural areas succeed. 

One way community leaders think Kinston could excel more is by getting assistance from the Governor's Office to strengthen their arts community. 

"Bringing state government to local communities, to hear what we are doing right, but also let us know if they can help," Stephen Hill said. 

State legislators, local arts council members and other community leaders gathered at the Community Arts Council. 

"It has really pulled all the interested parties in this same room," Governor Roy Cooper said. "Use the convening power of the governors' office to bring in all the state agencies that can affect them."

Chairman of the SmART Kinston Initiative and NC Arts Council Stephen Hill spoke about how arts enriches rural communities. 

"We want to build a cultural center where we can attract nice, employers with good paying jobs so our kids stop leaving," Hill said. 

Governor Cooper said arts are an integral part of communities, and he believes his Hometown Strong effort will help rural areas do more to be successful. 

"I have seen what arts can do for the economy of an area," Cooper said. "It attracts people and helps improve the quality of life. I believe in public education, and we ought to emphasize arts and music."

Hill said things like the African American Music Trails and Kinston Music Park are examples of art enriching the community, and hopes for funding from the Governor's Office for other cultural assets to make Kinston a desired destination. 

"We have got great things going on, but there is a lot of things we need help with," Hill said. "We have very few citizens to draw money from, and it can't be all private funding. We do need some public help."

Cooper discussed other challenges rural areas face, like access to broadband internet, infrastructure and expansion of healthcare. 

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