Economic development leaders in North Carolina have identified a list of target industries that reflect the state’s geographic, economic and demographic diversity. These segments include:
Aerospace, Aviation and Military/Defense
The birthplace of aviation is an obvious destination for firms engaged in all aspects of flight. Large defense bases at Fort Bragg, Camp Lejeune, Seymour Johnson and elsewhere place North Carolina companies such as Spirit AeroSystems, Bombardier and Force Protection in close proximity to defense and homeland security personnel, providing convenient linkages to purchasing decisions and ready channels of experienced labor.
Automotive, Truck and Heavy Equipment
The state that gave the world NASCAR is now the backdrop for a large, growing community of automotive and transportation equipment suppliers such as Caterpillar and BorgWarner. Over 160 companies in the motor vehicle parts and heavy equipment industry have a presence in North Carolina -- employing 17,000 workers. Fueling the success of these firms are university-based R&D resources, convenience to global buyers and the state’s vast inventory of shovel-ready sites.
Biotechnology, Pharmaceuticals and Life Sciences
Only two states can boast larger life science industries than North Carolina, which is now home to 520 bioscience firms, contract research organizations, medical device makers and other life science-related businesses. Global companies such as GlaxoSmithKline, Novozymes, Novartis and Novo Nordisk flourish in the state. The state’s public and private research universities, along with its 58-campus community college system, assure a talented labor pool from entry-level production workers to PhD-holding scientists.
Business and Financial Services
North Carolina’s 1,700 financial companies include major banks such as RBC Bank, Fidelity and Bank of America, insurers, mortgage lenders, retail brokerages, customer service centers and data operations. The state’s enviable quality of life enables companies to recruit and retain top financial professionals from around the globe.
Chemicals, Plastics and Rubber
The world’s most prominent industrial names such as DuPont, DAK Americas, Owens-Illinois and Southeastern Container are among North Carolina’s 550 chemical, plastics and rubber manufacturers. The Wilmington and Morehead City ports connect them to reliable supplies of raw materials – and to foreign markets, while the state’s universities provide steady streams of engineering graduates and other professionals equipped with technical degrees.
North Carolina's mid-Atlantic location is convenient to major markets and suppliers across the Eastern U.S. The state's deep-water ports at Wilmington and Morehead City, superior highway system of seven interstates, four international airports and 3,200-mile rail system offer a seamless transportation infrastructure for distribution and logistics companies.
Food Processing and Distribution
North Carolina has a tradition of producing and distributing some of the finest food products in the country. Companies like Butterball Turkey, Sanderson Farms and American Food Resources are enjoying the benefits of the state’s strong business climate and low operating costs. NC State University’s Food Science Center and Center for Advanced Processing & Packaging provide a resource for the investigation and implementation of food processing and packaging technologies.
North Carolina’s huge agricultural economy, forward-thinking government officials and supportive utilities have converged to create an exciting environment for alternative energy producers of all kinds. The state was the first in the Southeast to legislate renewable portfolio standards, and its Green Business Fund provides financial support for discovery of clean fuels, advanced environmental systems and energy-saving equipment.
Information and Communications Technology
With its large base of knowledge workers and world class research center at Research Triangle Park, North Carolina is a go-to destination for software, hardware, telecommunications and digital media companies like Red Hat, Lenovo, Verizon and Epic Games.
Textiles, Apparel and Textile Machinery
North Carolina’s deep roots as a textile and apparel center have fostered exciting opportunities for manufacturers of advanced textiles such as Colbond, Jacob Holm, PGI Nonwovens and Shalag. Community college re-training programs have helped transition the state’s textile workforce to technology-intensive production methods, as NC State University has partnered with industry leaders in forging innovative nonwoven and “smart” fabrics headed for consumer, industrial and commercial markets.