RALEIGH-- Former U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell said he thinks North Carolina's new election overhaul law discourages all people from having the ability to vote.
He spoke Thursday to a crowd of more than 400 business leaders during the fifth annual North Carolina CEO Forum at North Ridge Country Club.
Gov. Pat McCrory, who also spoke at the event, signed the law last week that requires voters to present photo identification in order to cast a ballot.
Both Powell and McCrory also discussed ways to make North Carolina's business community more competitive.
McCrory told the roomful of hundreds of business leaders that the competition from neighboring states and around the world is getting tough. He said he wants to spark changes that prepares students to meet the state's workforce needs.
"We have job openings and there's a disconnect between what we're teaching and what the employers need. I'm hearing that consistently in all 100 counties," expressed McCrory.
Powell agreed on the importance of getting students moving in the right direction at a young age.
Brad Wilson, CEO of Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina, said the Affordable Care Act is expected to give as many as two million more North Carolinians access to the health care system.
"Who is going to see all of these people and tend to the needs that they're going to have," said Wilson.
Wilson also said he wanted to see students to prepare for jobs in health care.
McCrory said he's also working on a plan to make infrastructure improvements to create more business opportunities.
"We're coming up with a plan in which we tie the rural areas to economic development regions so they can get the spin off of industry," McCrory said.
The governor told the crowd he is also looking to expand infrastructure from the northeastern part of the state into Norfolk, Va. to get Virginia suppliers to come across the border to come into North Carolina.
Powell also addressed the crowd at the forum, but the news media were not allowed to record his speech. Powell agreed on the importance of getting students moving in the right direction at a young age.
For his part, McCrory said he's focused on cleaning up basic operations in government,
"The media is pretty bored with that too. They want to talk about other more high profile issues but I'm focusing on operations," he said.