Mali R. Schantz-Feld (Feb/Mar 08)
"Our continued focus on education, work force and infrastructure has established a strong foundation for success within our business community," says Jim Fain, North Carolina's Secretary of Commerce. In January, North Carolina was named by Chief Executive magazine as the state with the third-best business climate; and its capital, Raleigh, ranked in first place in Forbes' "Best Spots for Business" list in April 2007.
"North Carolina has seen rapid growth in several knowledge-based, sustainable industry sectors, including financial services, with significant jobs and investments made by companies such as Credit Suisse and Fidelity Investments," says Fain. Added to North Carolina's existing global companies such as Bank of America and Wachovia, this sector makes the state the second-largest U.S. financial services center outside New York City.
The life sciences industry, including pharmaceuticals and biotechnology, continues to expand. Two clinical research organizations, PRA and INC, announced last year a total of 1,500 new jobs and $22 million in investment in the Research Triangle area. "The life sciences is a natural fit for us, fueled in large part by our strong university research community and focused training initiatives in our 58-campus community college system," says Fain. Eleven institutions of higher education are located within a 60-mile radius of RTP, including Duke University in Durham; North Carolina State University in Raleigh; and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. A recent strategic plan unveiled on Sept. 12 by the North Carolina Biotechnology Center (NCBC) calls for establishment of a North Carolina Center for Advanced Medical Technologies to develop the sector that includes diagnostics and therapeutics, encompassing specialties as biotechnology, engineering, nanotechnology, and bioelectrics.
Aerospace/aviation has taken off in North Carolina, with major announcements last year by HondaJet, Honda Aero, and Turbomeca. Honda Aircraft Company Inc., a subsidiary of Honda Motor Company, is expanding its Greensboro operations and building its new HondaJet at Piedmont Triad International Airport at an investment of up to $100 million, with the expectation of 283 jobs during the next five years. The average annual salary for the new jobs will be around $70,000 a year plus benefits, which is almost double the Guilford County annual salary average. "We see this as a real growth opportunity for us, especially with our strong military presence," says Fain. The North Carolina Military Foundation cites that the state is home to six major military installations, more than 100,000 active duty personnel, and an additional 46,000 civilians, reservists, and national guardsmen.
For businesses that are considering a move to North Carolina, the Commerce Department's new Economic Development Intelligence System (EDIS), which recently debuted, was designed to provide accurate, up-to-date data designed to meet the needs of business decision-makers. EDIS delivers a wide variety of analytical, statistical and mapping tools such as an online mapping system, available buildings and sites, and detailed radius analysis and reports to assist in researching the area.