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The Carolina Comeback Continues

North Carolina’s primary industries have changed drastically over the past one hundred years. Once an industry-leading producer of furniture, textiles, and tobacco, North Carolina has modernized its economy to focus on knowledge-based industries. With the country’s lowest corporate income tax rate, North Carolina is able to attract businesses from industries ranging from aerospace and defense to business and financial services. With $2.26 trillion in assets, Charlotte is the nation’s third-largest banking center and home to the corporate headquarters of Bank of America and BB&T. Winston-Salem has been experiencing its greatest developmental boom since before the recession. Residential construction spending has increased to $225 million and nonresidential construction has increased to $359 million. Between the first quarter of 2013 and the third quarter of 2015, North Carolina has had the nation’s highest GDP growth rate at 13.4%. So what makes North Carolina such an attractive destination for businesses, and will this success continue into the future?

CNBC’s America’s Top 10 States to do Business in 2017 ranked North Carolina at 5th place. The list claims that North Carolina’s fantastic workforce and technology and innovation sector are the state’s most attractive features for business. North Carolina boasts business-friendly regulations and is a magnet for innovation; however, its low scores in elementary education keep it from breaking into the list’s top three. North Carolina won Site’s Selection Prosperity Cup in May, a testament to the state’s ability to navigate around a potential economic disaster over the controversial bathroom bill. After the bill was passed, many expected North Carolina’s economy to plummet. The backlash over the controversial bathroom bill did cause North Carolina to lose about 1,400 jobs and lowered the state’s GDP by 500 million.

It’s clear that North Carolina’s impressive academic environment plays a huge part in the state’s economic success, and hopefully, Wake Forest will continue to be at the forefront of that prosperity.

However, North Carolina’s economy is so huge that the economic impact of the bill was only a slight hiccup in the state’s growth. After the repeal of the bill, North Carolina still has extremely marketable features. According to Site Selection, North Carolina’s strategic significance is mainly due to its highly educated workforce (thanks, Wake!), a temperate climate, two international airports, three coastal ports, top research universities, and of course the nation’s lowest corporate income tax rate.

As North Carolina’s economy churns forward, more businesses are looking to make the Tar Heel state their home. Recently Infosys, an Indian IT-consulting firm, announced that they will be opening a Technology and Innovation hub in Raleigh. This move will bring about 2,000 jobs to the area by 2021. The company said that the state’s excellent talent pool and educational resources were key factors in its decision. Ravi Kumar, president and deputy CEO of Infosys explained that North Carolina Research Triangle Park and Wake Country are “synonymous with innovation” and that he was “overwhelmed by the academic ecosystem in and around the place”. It’s clear that North Carolina’s impressive academic environment plays a huge part in the state’s economic success, and hopefully, Wake Forest will continue to be at the forefront of that prosperity.

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