For the third year in a row, North Carolina garners top honors with Site Selection magazine’s Prosperity Cup recognition for economic development.
“Two projects alone in 2022 accounted for $9 billion in capital investment in the Tar Heel State — both in Chatham County,” said Mark Arend, writer. “Vietnamese EV and battery manufacturer VinFast picked the Triangle Innovation Point mega site for its three-part manufacturing center — for production of electric cars, buses, and batteries. A $2 billion initial investment for phase 1 is expected to grow to $4 billion. The project will employ 7,500 at full operation.”
He also notes that semiconductor manufacturer Wolfspeed plans to invest $5 billion over the next eight years in a manufacturing campus to produce Silicon Carbide materials. It will create more than 1,800 jobs by 2030.
The magazine bases the recognition on the competitiveness of state-level economic development agencies and their success in landing capital investment projects according to a 10-point index.
Chris Chung, CEO of the Economic Development Partnership of North Carolina (EDPNC), told the magazine that it is getting harder for companies to find places where companies can put projects of this size and that the state still has them.
He told the magazine that VinFast, Wolfspeed, and others like Boom Supersonic (building a $500 million Overture Superfactory in Greensboro) and Toyota Battery Manufacturing North Carolina (building an EV complex in Liberty) benefitted from special legislative appropriations to address major cost components of the projects.
Arend points out that North Carolina doesn’t have a fund set aside for landing such projects.
“At one time, there was the perception that North Carolina was not very aggressive or good at figuring out how to incentivize those really large projects — the home runs would elude us,” Chung said. “The home runs often require incentives that are not on the shelf. But in the past four years, the governor and legislature working in a bipartisan fashion have done a really good job of agreeing to disagree on other matters but coming together on major legislation as it befits companies like Apple and Honeywell’s headquarters relocation here a few years ago and others.”
When asked for her perspective on the recognition, N.C. Commerce Secretary Machelle Baker Sanders said the state continues to leverage its strengths and has a collaborative environment.
“The Department of Commerce is a multiplier for our local and regional economic development agencies,” she stated. “We have continued to invest in and underscore the importance of our number one asset, which is our talent. Also, our excellent quality of life, our top-tiered education system, it’s unmatchable.”
She also said it’s important for companies to locate in places that employees will enjoy and thrive in, and North Carolina offers all of that, especially after being ranked as the number one state to do business.
Georgia, Ohio, Indiana, and Kentucky round out the top five. Neighboring South Carolina came in at seventh place.