~ By Nicole Cornett, Managing Editor, Expansion Solutions Magazine ~
Companies of all sizes and industries know that North Carolina is the one of best places in America to do business. North Carolina also boasts an affordable cost of living and low business costs in a friendly and beautiful state with something for everyone.
As a diverse Right-to-Work state, North Carolina boasts an impressive array of vocationally trained workers and those with advanced degrees. The state’s pool of 470,000+ manufacturing employees is the largest in the region, and its talent pipeline is full of roughly 165,000+ postsecondary degree and certificate recipients each year. North Carolina also has a cost of living that’s below the national average and a high personal satisfaction rate, meaning its workforce and businesses can take advantage of everything the state has to offer.
North Carolina is home to one of the strongest pools of STEM-educated workers in the nation and ninth for the total number of STEM graduates per year with over 29,000, based on college completions in 2020. The state encompasses an array of public and private universities and some of the best community college systems in the country. With three Tier-1 research universities, the most historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) in the country, and a network of 58 community colleges the state is dedicated to preparing people for the workforce of tomorrow.
With partnerships between the North Carolina Department of Commerce, the Economic Development Partnership of North Carolina (EDPNC), state and local public and private organizations, and bipartisan support from state leadership, North Carolina has once again had a record-breaking year in 2022 in economic development. The EDPNC, working with local and state partners, helped close deals on 151 business recruitment projects last year.
In 2022, North Carolina set a record-breaking 28,000 new jobs and more than $19 billion in capital investment was announced across the state. Last year’s notable project announcements included the state’s first auto assembly facility when VinFast announced it would site an electric vehicle and battery manufacturing facility (the company’s first in North America) in Chatham County. VinFast’s project is the largest in North Carolina’s history by investing $4 billion and creating 7,500 jobs in the state.
Home-grown semiconductor manufacturer Wolfspeed announced in September it is investing $5 billion and creating 1,800 jobs in Siler City making this the largest capital investment for an economic development project in the state’s history.
American retailer Macy’s, Inc., will build its first-ever, fully-automated distribution center in China Grove, located in Rowan County. The company will invest $584.3 million for the project which has a goal of 2,800 new jobs. Boom Supersonic chose a site at the Piedmont Triad International Airport in Greensboro to manufacture and assemble its modern supersonic airliners for commercial use. This project was an investment of $500 million through 2030 to create 1,750 jobs by then. Pharmaceutical company Eli Lilly is investing $1 billion to develop a manufacturing plant in Concord to create nearly 600 jobs.
Notable projects in 2023 include Marshall USA LLC, a British aerospace and defense contractor, investing $50 million and creating 240 new jobs for a new planned maintenance inspection (PMI) facility which will be the company’s U.S. Operations Hub at Piedmont Triad Airport in Greensboro. The facility will include maintenance, repair and operations (MRO) services and engineering operations to service C-130 aircraft for the United States Marine Corps.
In March this year, Siemens Mobility, Inc., the global manufacturer of rail transportation vehicles and control systems, announced they will build a major advanced manufacturing and rail services center in Davidson County, creating 506 jobs. The company will invest $220 million in Lexington, creating a new carbon neutral facility that will serve the company’s East Coast markets. Siemens Mobility’s project in North Carolina will be facilitated, in part, by a Job Development Investment Grant (JDIG) approved by the state’s Economic Investment Committee earlier today. Over the course of the 12-year term of this grant, the project is estimated to grow the state’s economy by $1.6 billion.
In April 2023, EPOC Enviro, a PFAS remediation company, announced they will create 226 new jobs in Iredell County and invest more than $4.1 million to locate its first North American production site in Statesville.
In May of 2023, alpitronic Americas LLC, a manufacturer of high-power electric vehicle charging stations, announced the creation of 300 new jobs in Mecklenburg County. The company will invest more than $18.3 million to locate its United States headquarters operation and service center in Charlotte.
These major announcements lead to increased media recognition across the county. Most recently, CNBC named North Carolina as America’s Top State for Business in 2022, rising above states like Washington, Virginia, Colorado and Texas. The state’s economy; technology and innovation; and workforce were what took North Carolina to the top.
In May of 2022, Site Selection Magazine chose the state to win its 2022 Prosperity Cup. This is the second year in a row the state has won the award for most successful economic development and business development projects in their state for the previous year. In June of last year, Area Development Magazine awarded North Carolina the inaugural Platinum Shovel award for going above and beyond the gold standard in job creation and investment. The state was also named the State of the Year by Business Facilities Magazine.
These companies and publications recognize that North Carolina has what it takes to be successful for years to come, starting with a highly skilled, diverse workforce. North Carolina has the largest manufacturing workforce in the Southeast, but to meet workforce needs in booming industries, the state has set the ambitious goal of getting two million more adult North Carolinians a high-quality postsecondary degree or credential by 2030.
Many factors contribute to North Carolina consistently winning these big projects and regularly landing at the top of everyone’s lists for the best place to do business, but three stand out.
Low Cost of Business
Businesses that move to or expand in North Carolina find that the cost of doing business in the state is great for the bottom line. North Carolina’s current corporate income tax is 2.5 percent, which is the lowest rate among the 44 states that levy this tax. In 2025, the tax will decrease to 2.25 percent and will continue to decrease until it reaches zero perent in 2030. The state is one of four states to receive a AAA bond rating from Standard & Poor’s for over 55 years. And for businesses looking to build, construction costs are 17 percent below the national average and there is no state property tax.
First In Talent
North Carolina’s most important and valuable resource is its people. The state has one of the fastest growing populations in the country. To continue ensuring the state’s workforce is prepared, and resilient, for an ever-changing economy, the North Carolina Department of Commerce developed a four-year economic development strategic plan, outlining how workforce development, business recruitment and economic development can work together to ensure North Carolina and its residents have continued success. We have seen this plan in action with Honda Jet’s and Pratt & Whitney’s tailored workforce development programs with the state’s community colleges.
Partnerships and Collaboration
It takes a village to make anything successful, and in North Carolina, it is public-private partnerships. These successes are attributed to the work, cooperation and partnerships between Governor Cooper, the North Carolina General Assembly, the North Carolina Department of Commerce, the Economic Development Partnership of North Carolina (EDPNC) and its Board of Directors, among many other partners at the local, state, and even federal levels. By coming together to form lasting partnerships with the goal of making success the gold standard in the state, everyone – businesses and North Carolina residents – win.