The COVID pandemic has altered much of life as we knew it. The popularity of online shopping is skyrocketing, for example, and working remotely is here to stay. But at least one constant remains: North Carolina is a great place to do business.
Gene McLaurin, the business and political veteran who Gov. Cooper recently named board chairman of Economic Development Partnership of North Carolina, the public-private booster of tourism and business statewide, said business relocations and expansions in 2020 — the height of the pandemic — are expected to generate $6.3 billion in investments, the most in the past decade. And they’ll add more than 20,000 jobs, only a few less than 2019’s 21,675, the best in the past 10 years.
Those numbers certainly support Site Selection magazine’s 2021 proclamation that North Carolina’s business climate was best. And while it’s important to note that the state earned that honor in 2020, too, though shared with Georgia, it’s not resting on its laurels. North Carolina is working today to ensure businesses succeed tomorrow.
Reminders of North Carolina’s strong manufacturing past stand statewide. Vacant since economic forces halted a large portion of furniture, tobacco and textile production, these mills are being renovated and repurposed thanks to tax credits. They are launching startups, providing homes to established companies and offering the work-play-live situations that many of today’s workers seek.
Many of those mills were built because of access to inexpensive and reliable power. In eastern North Carolina solar and wind energy efforts are attracting residents and businesses. Some are seizing opportunities as links in the renewable-energy supply chain, while others, such as tech giant Google, are using the clean power to meet environmental goals.
Tech companies, including Apple, which recently announced a $1 billion investment statewide are selecting North Carolina because of research and workforce opportunities. The latter was a main reason that electric vehicle maker Arrival choose the Charlotte region for two factories and its North American headquarters.
A top-notch quality of life plays into many businesses and workers choosing North Carolina. While its 300 miles of coast certainly draws some, many others are setting up shop or working remotely in its mountains. So, local leaders are clearing the way — expanding industrial parks, improving health care options and ensuring workers are skilled and housed. It’s a similar situation in the Triad, where Piedmont Triad Airport mixes regular flights with business development and two megasites await tenants.
Each business’s needs are unique, and all can be met in at least one of North Carolina’s 100 counties. A statewide economic development team, which was recently named the country’s best by Development Counsellors International, and local teams are ready to help find your future in North Carolina.
— Pete Anderson, project editor