North Carolina’s skilled workforce and commitment to business are two of the many reasons companies can find quick success when they relocate to the state or expand here.
MetLife, for example, recently created more than 2,600 jobs to serve its new Charlotte and Cary campuses and invested $125.5 million in the state six months ahead of schedule.
“Our hiring has moved faster than we expected because of the rich talent pool and business-friendly environment we have found in North Carolina,” said Steven Kandarian, CEO and president of the New-York-based insurer.
Kandarian’s comments marked the June grand opening ceremony at MetLife’s new global technology campus in Cary. The company’s expansion in North Carolina also includes its U.S. retail headquarters in Charlotte. The 2,600 jobs split between the two new locations amount to one of the largest economic development projects in recent state history.
“We’re fortunate that North Carolina consistently gets the chance to compete for – and win – new business investment,” said Christopher Chung, chief executive officer of the Economic Development Partnership of North Carolina, which markets the state for business and tourism. “Much of that has to do with a talented workforce and population that’s among the fastest-growing in the country, a pro-business tax structure that continues to be made even more competitive, and a right-to-work status underscored by the nation’s lowest unionization rate.”
“Beyond those advantages, North Carolina’s leadership in higher education and research provides abundant opportunities for strong partnerships between industry and academia that drive more robust innovation,” he said.
Consequently, North Carolina consistently places among the top states in key business rankings. The state is currently #1 among Site Selection magazine’s “Top 10 Competitive States” and No. 3 on Forbes’ list of “Best States for Business.”
Here is another list for businesses to consider — one that stresses why North Carolina meets and exceeds the highest expectations:
1. Tax Climate and Low Cost of Living
North Carolina has the second-lowest state and local business tax burden in the U.S., according to Ernst & Young, Council on State Taxation. And state leaders are committed to keeping it that way.
In 2013, state lawmakers made a long-term commitment to a competitive tax climate when they simplified the tax code and lowered rates. As a result, in 2015 the personal income tax rate dropped to a flat 5.75 percent, while the corporate income tax rate fell to five percent.
Anticipated state revenue levels will likely trigger a further reduction in the corporate income tax rate in 2016 — to four percent. The rate could drop to three percent in 2017 if tax from certain revenue targets are met.
Measures of electricity and natural gas rates, office lease and construction costs, wages and overall cost-of-living attest to the state’s cost-effective business environment. For example, the cost of living in North Carolina’s metropolitan areas is up to nine percent less than the national average.
2. Low Unionization
At 1.9 percent of the workforce, North Carolina has the lowest unionization rate in the country. “Right-to-work” laws prohibit labor contracts that require employees to join a union.
3. Access to Talent, Training and Education
North Carolina has one of the fastest-growing populations in the country, helping to fulfill immediate and future workforce needs. And that population has access to top-notch educational and training resources.
In higher education, more than 380,000 students are seeking degrees at 41 colleges and universities, including the highly respected University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, Duke University and North Carolina State University. In addition, the state’s vast community college system and its pioneering and renowned workforce development programs offer employers a steady stream of skilled workers.
The state is also home to more than 100,000 active-duty military personnel who, as they enter civilian life, provide another source of employees with ready technical skills.
4. Leadership in Research and Innovation
One of North Carolina’s strongest assets is its universities, which excel at research and development, generate significant intellectual property and produce a well-equipped science and engineering workforce. The state ranks fifth nationally in academic science and engineering research and development. Since 2000, its academic R&D intensity has been growing 50 percent faster than the U.S. rate.
The share of the state’s academic science and engineering R&D funded by industry is nearly twice the U.S. average. Moreover, the state’s leadership has supported forward-thinking ventures that help take new technologies from concept to commercialization, including the well-known Research Triangle Park (RTP), North Carolina Biotechnology Center and RTI International.
Such an environment provides highly- skilled workers for the state’s robust life sciences sector, which includes biotechnology and pharmaceutical enterprises. Employment in the state’s life sciences industry cluster grew nearly 31 percent from 2001 to 2012, far outpacing the 7.4 percent growth nationally.
5. Location: You Can Get There from Here
North Carolina’s central East Coast location places businesses within a two-day drive of 220 million U.S. residents. Its extensive roadways include I-95, I-85 and I-40. The state also has two deepwater ports. Charlotte-Douglas International Airport (among the Top 10 busiest airports in the U.S.) and Raleigh-Durham International Airport offer frequent departures to all major U.S. cities and to many international destinations.
How the EDPNC Can Help
Over the past year, high-profile companies representing a broad range of industries have made the decision to relocate to North Carolina or significantly expand their operations here, including:
- HCL America Inc., a subsidiary of India’s leading global IT services firm HCL Technologies.
- Patheon, a leader in contract pharmaceutical development and manufacturing.
- Advance Auto Parts, the largest automotive aftermarket parts provider in North America.
- Sealed Air Corporation (the Fortune 500 company behind Bubble Wrap), which is relocating its global corporate headquarters from New Jersey to North Carolina.
The Economic Development Partnership of North Carolina is dedicated to helping companies large and small identify and tap a variety of resources for doing business in North Carolina. It assists in identifying sites, navigating incentives and tax credit programs, finding workforce training solutions and more.
For additional information about doing business in North Carolina, contact Tiffany McNeill at the EDPNC, 919-447-7741 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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