Q. How's business in North Carolina?
A. North Carolina has one of America's top business climates, a growing population, and a healthy gross state product of $355 billion. Our economic development strategy is to differentiate the state based on a well-educated and trained work force and a strong education system, from pre-K through community colleges and universities. We also have a diverse portfolio of performance-based, discretionary incentive grants and tax credit programs that encourage technology-based companies to expand in or relocate to North Carolina.
As a result, our state is seeing significant growth in advanced manufacturing, information/communications technology, biotechnology/life sciences, and aerospace. That growth comes both from expansions of existing companies such as GE and Merck, and newcomers such as Sutter Street Manufacturing, a subsidiary of Williams-Sonoma Inc.
Q. How does your strategy affect economic development?
A. An announcement that reflects our strategy came in May from Spirit AeroSystems Inc., which plans to open a manufacturing plant at the N.C. Global TransPark in Kinston, in the eastern part of the state. The Wichita-based company will invest more than $570 million and create 1,031 jobs. Spirit's customers include Airbus, Boeing, Gulfstream, Cessna and Hawker Beechcraft.
This successful project plus others - such as Honda Aircraft Co., now building its Very Light Jet at Piedmont Triad International Airport; Honda Aero, also in the Piedmont area; and Turbomeca, in the western part of the state - have put North Carolina on the map as an international leader in aerospace/aviation.
In another recent advanced manufacturing announcement, GE Hitachi Nuclear Energy Americas will expand its campus near Wilmington, creating 900 jobs and investing $704 million.
We also continue to see growth in pharma-related companies such as TransTech Pharma, INC Research, and Patheon, which help give North Carolina its well-deserved reputation as the largest center of clinical research organizations in the world.