Jesse Helms Center Archives
Senator Helms Supporting Free Enterprise
Long before Senator Helms was in office the textile industry was a major part of North Carolina's culture and economy. For a time, North Carolina was a worldwide leader in textile production until it faced some economic challenges in the 1970s from foreign imports and companies moving production out of the country. Many of the Senator's constituents were mill workers or manufactures and relied on the textile industry to survive. Therefore, he made sure to fight for their rights and to keep the industry alive.
Growing up in rural North Carolina, Jesse Helms knew how important farming was to the people and the economy of the state. That's why, as a U.S. Senator, Jesse Helms served on the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry, and even served as its Chairman from 1981-1987. Senator Helms always wanted the best for the people of North Carolina and no one understood more how vital the agriculture and livestock community was the Old North State.
Senator Helms was one of many people working hard to get an NFL Franchise in the Carolina's and he was proud and excited when it was announced that the Carolina Panthers were calling Charlotte home. In a Senate floor statement following the announcement, Helms said, "I believe it is appropriate to say that Carolinians, both North and South, are grateful...the NFL couldn't have chosen a better place, and I'm certainly pleased and grateful that the Carolina's were selected."
Aviation is an important part of North Carolina's history. From being "First in Flight" in 1903 to Charlotte-Douglas Airport being an American Airline hub, aviation brings jobs, commerce and tourists to our state and has a great impact on its economy. In 2000, Helms fought hard to get more INS agents at the Charlotte-Douglas Airport to help with the rapid growth of international flights and was outspoken and critical of any legislation that he thought would hurt the industry. Senator Helms understood how important the aviation business was to the people of his home state and tried to help whenever possible.
Jesse Helms had a long history with banking in North Carolina. In 1953, Helms was President of the North Carolina's Banking Association and remained in that position until he went into broadcasting full-time in 1960. Once he was elected to the Senate, Helms took with him the knowledge that banking was a major force in the state's economy. By the late 1970s, Charlotte was emerging as a banking center and was home to Bank of America and Wachovia, now Wells Fargo, and is now one of the largest financial centers in the country.
North Carolina is not only the birthplace of aviation, but is also the birthplace of stock car racing and a hub for NASCAR racing. Today, North Carolina is home to many automobile manufacturing plants, including Daimler, Bridgestone and Goodyear.