From information technology to life sciences, from Big Tech players to innovative startups. North Carolina continues to attract companies on the cutting edge of innovation and cement its reputation as a magnet for high-tech industries.
Consider Apple’s decision earlier this year to build a $1-billion campus and engineering hub in the Research Triangle, which will create at least 3,000 new jobs. The new hires will be in machine learning, artificial intelligence, software engineering and other fields.
“This is Apple’s first entirely new campus in more than 20 years,” said Christopher Chung, chief executive officer of the Economic Development Partnership of North Carolina. “And it’s also among the latest and largest of our tech-driven project wins over the past two years. They all attest to North Carolina’s favorable business climate, tech-savvy workforce, world-class higher education system, climate of innovation, affordable cost of living and high quality of life.”
Apple’s April announcement of its first East Coast campus came only one month after Google revealed it plans to create a Durham, N.C., hub for engineers working on its Google Cloud products. The site will eventually support more than 1,000 jobs and be one of Google Cloud’s top engineering hubs, along with the Bay Area, New York, Seattle and Kirkland, Washington, according to the company.
In 2020, tech-driven megaprojects locating in North Carolina included Missouri-based Centene Corp.’s choice of Charlotte for a $1-billion, 3,237-job East Coast headquarters and technology hub. Company officials say they expect the new hub will grow to up to 6,000 employees.
In December 2019, Microsoft Corp. chose Morrisville, N.C., over Houston for a $47.5-million expansion that will create 500 new jobs, primarily in software engineering and development. That decision came only two months after Microsoft decided to invest $23 million and add 430 jobs in Charlotte to build out its engineering and quantum computing business.
Across industries spanning IT, life sciences, aviation, and more, growing global innovators continue to expand in North Carolina—a state that consistently ranks among the top five on the most respected business rankings.
North Carolina is Forbes’ choice as Best State for Business three years in row. It’s also third on CNBC’s list of America’s Top States for Business. In addition, Site Selection magazine ranks North Carolina’s business climate No. 1 in the nation in a tie with one other state.
What are just some of the reasons for this recognition?
Growing Talent Pool with Access to Top-Tier Education
North Carolina’s population of 10.5 million is expected to grow to surpass 11 million by 2030. The state’s population is increasing at twice the U.S. average, which fuels the local pipeline of workforce talent. From 2010-2019, North Carolina was among the top three states for net in-migration.
The state’s growing population has access to top-tier training. Students are earning degrees at 53 colleges and universities across the state, including Tier 1 research universities Duke, University of North Carolina and North Carolina State. In addition, the state’s 58-campus community college system is the nation’s third-largest and a national model for customized workforce training.
Here’s just one example of how the state’s customized training system serves the very specific needs of a growing business. In 2020, jet-engine maker Pratt & Whitney chose Asheville, N.C., for a $650-million, 800-job advanced manufacturing plant. A talented workforce pipeline was critical to winning the plant, which will provide high-pressure turbine airfoils for the company’s next-generation engines.
Five regional community colleges in Western North Carolina came together to offer classes specific to Pratt & Whitney’s needs. With county support, Asheville-Buncombe Community Technical College will also be building and operating a 20,000-square-foot educational facility close to the Pratt & Whitney plant, dedicating space to train its machinists and other workers.
Growing Tech and Strong Manufacturing Workforce
North Carolina has seen double-digit growth in the state’s tech industry – covering information, energy, environmental, and life-science technology employment. The state’s tech industry jobs have grown by 18 percent over the past five years, which is well above the national average of 8.9 percent.
North Carolina also produces more than 25,000 science, technology, engineering, and math graduates annually, ranking second for STEM grads in the Southeastern U.S.
And at over 475,000 employees, North Carolina has the largest manufacturing workforce in the Southeast U.S.
Highly Competitive Corporate Taxes
North Carolina ranks among the nation’s most competitive states overall in state corporate tax costs, according to a report released in May.
The Tax Foundation, a Washington, D.C.-based think tank, produced the comprehensive “Location Matters” report in collaboration with accounting firm KPMG. The distinctive study modeled different types of new and mature firms and analyzed what each would actually pay in state and local taxes in every state. North Carolina ranked third overall for lowest effective state tax rates for the new firms modeled and fifth overall for the mature firms.
The study points out that over the past decade, North Carolina has implemented historic tax reforms that included reducing the state’s corporate income tax to 2.5 percent, now the lowest such rate in the country.
Location and Logistics to Reach Millions
North Carolina’s central East Coast location and superb road transportation network provide access to more than 178 million customers within a day’s drive. The state’s two deep-water seaports and two Class 1 rail carriers enable companies to reach millions more domestic and international customers. North Carolina boasts several regional airports and four international airports.
A Surge of Tech-Driven Projects
Success breeds more of the same. North Carolina has seen a surge of tech-driven project wins in 2020 continue through the first half of 2021. They range from information technology and fintech to life sciences, advanced industrial manufacturing and more. Here are a just a few of North Carolina’s notable wins so far this year:
- FUJIFILM Diosynth Biotechnologies announced a $2-billion, 725-job biopharmaceutical facility in Holly Springs that will become North America’s largest end-to-end biologics production facility. In 2020 alone, life sciences companies announced expansions that will bring nearly $3 billion in new investment and over 4,800 new jobs to North Carolina.
- Credit Karma, a personal finance technology company, will add 600 new jobs and invest more than $13 million to expand its Charlotte presence with a new high-tech engineering hub.
- San Francisco-based Invitae Corporation, a leading medical genetics company, will build a major testing and laboratory facility in Morrisville, creating 374 jobs and investing $114.6 million there.
- Robinhood, a California-based stock trading app company, will create nearly 400 jobs and invest $11.7 million to establish a new customer support and operations office in Charlotte.
- Thermo Fisher Scientific, a global life science services company, will add 500 new jobs in Greenville as it expands its sterile drug product development and commercial manufacturing of critical medicines and vaccines.
“West Coast and Northeast companies that want a high-tech talent pool – as well as a cost-of-living that allows their employees’ paychecks to go much further – are finding North Carolina extremely attractive for growth,” Chung said.
In addition, North Carolina’s business costs overall – covering labor, energy and taxes – are the fourth lowest among all states in the U.S., and the state ranks among the top 10 for labor supply, according to Forbes.
If your business is interested in locating in North Carolina, contact the Economic Development Partnership of North Carolina. Visit edpnc.com for more information.