The Carolinas: An East Coast Engine for Growth
North and South Carolina share more than a state line and coastal waters—both are busy offering a bevy of creative programs and incentives that are bringing boatloads of jobs to the region.
The Carolinas, well known for their creative climate and low-cost business environment, are now an East Coast engine for growth hitting on all cylinders. North Carolina and South Carolina are busy certifying shovel-ready sites and pioneering new incentives.
In South Carolina, the focus also is on creative workforce development strategies. The South Carolina Department of Commerce is committed to meeting a business’ specific workforce needs. The Department of Commerce’s Workforce Division and the readySC™ program, offered through the S.C. Technical College System, coordinate training needs at no cost for eligible new or expanding companies throughout the state. The readySC™ program works with the state’s 16 technical colleges to develop training curriculum tailored to meet a company’s workforce requirements. More than a quarter-million workers have been trained since the nationally recognized program’s inception.
South Carolina won Business Facilities’ 2009 Deal of the Year Award for N. Charleston’s selection as the location for Boeing’s second final assembly plant for the 787 Dreamliner commercial airplane.
“This sets into motion what we believe will be revolutionary and indeed generational changes to our state’s economy,” said then-Gov. Mark Sanford. “Not only for the thousands of jobs and hundreds of millions in investment—in fact, the largest announcement in South Carolina history—but also for the way Boeing’s expansion will spur on an already growing aerospace hub in our state, this is extremely good news. Yet it’s also a challenge: a challenge to not rest on our laurels and instead redouble efforts to improve our state’s business climate; a challenge to use this momentum to push through tough economic headwinds; and a challenge to capitalize on this renewed cooperation between political leadership in Columbia and hard-working citizens across the state to make South Carolina a better place to live, work and raise a family.”
Across the state line to the north, Gov. Bev Perdue recently established the North Carolina Innovation Council to foster strategic investments and policies in the growing knowledge and innovation economy. The North Carolina Innovation Council is part of Gov. Perdue’s JobsNOW initiative. Through JobsNOW, the state will work aggressively to create jobs, train and retrain its workforce, and lay the foundation for a sustainable economic future.
“To continue growing jobs in North Carolina, we must make sure this state is poised to compete globally in the 21st century,” says Perdue. “Innovation is North Carolina’s launch pad to success in the global economy, and it’s a primary way for us to maintain and sharpen our competitive edge.”
“Business leaders know we are listening to them and working aggressively to meet their needs,” Perdue says. “Companies know that in North Carolina they will find top-quality talent, world-class infrastructure, a pro-business environment and premier education institutions. North Carolina is simply a great place to do business.”
PARTNERSHIP BUILT ON POWER
The SC Power Team, Santee Cooper’s economic development partnership with The Electric Cooperatives of South Carolina, has significantly advanced development efforts throughout the state, especially in some of the more rural and challenged areas. Since 2008, the Power Team has committed more than $2 million in grants to local agencies to certify sites, provide professional development and assist with strategic planning for economic development. In 2010, the efforts of Santee Cooper and its partners resulted in 2,328 jobs, more than $305 million in capital investment and more than 29,895 kilowatts of new load.
A major aerospace complex, Myrtle Beach International Technology and Aerospace Park, is rising at the Myrtle Beach International Airport and the Bucksport Marine Industrial Park.
The Bucksport Marina Industrial Park is a joint effort of the Grand Strand Water and Sewer Authority (which spent $3.5 million for the marine park site), Horry County, Myrtle Beach Regional Economic Development Corp. and Santee Cooper to create one of the county’s newest industrial park sites.
“There are not many industrial parks on the Intracoastal Waterway,” Grand Strand Water and Sewer Authority CEO Fred Richardson recently told SunTimes.com. “We feel like we’ve got something unique to offer.”
Horry County property manager Jim Papadea said because of the park’s location, near where the Waccamaw River flows into the waterway, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the Department of Health and Environmental Control’s Office of Ocean and Coastal Resource Management and other agencies are reviewing plants for the marine park, which is positioned on the Atlantic Intercoastal Waterway to offer all the amenities and support services needed for the manufacturing, renovation and overhaul of the marine industry.
According to Papadea, the marine park is a perfect location for manufacturing or assembling items that are too large to be moved by land or air, such as the wind turbines that are likely to be generate wind energy along the South Carolina coast in coming years, or mobile hospitals that would be put on barges and shipped to areas where an emergency has occurred.
Other recent major economic development milestones in the SC Power Team territory have included Caterpillar’s major expansion in Newberry; the Sykes project in Kingstree; Wellman’s Plastic Recycling expansion in Johnsonville; and Southeast Renewable Energy and IMO Group in Berkeley County.
On April 7, 1934, Gov. Ibra C. Blackwood signed into law an act that created the S.C. Public Service Authority, more commonly known as Santee Cooper. It was the culmination of more than 150 years worth of efforts to tap the Santee and Cooper Rivers for economic development. Never in their wildest dreams could the 1770 committee of the colonial Commons House of Assembly that first proposed developing the two rivers have predicted their inland-navigation project would evolve into South Carolina’s largest power producer and one of the largest public-power utilities in the United States.
Provisions in the enabling legislature proclaim Santee Cooper was created by South Carolina “for the benefit of all the people of the state, for the improvement of their health and welfare and material prosperity.”
Seventy-five years later, these words are at the very heart of Santee Cooper’s mission to be the state’s leading resource for improving the quality of life for the people of South Carolina. To help fulfill this mission, Santee Cooper is committed to being the lowest-cost producer and distributor of reliable energy and water, as well as a leader in economic development.
As soon as Santee Cooper produced its first electricity in 1942, it became a catalyst for economic development throughout South Carolina, thanks largely to its partnership with the electric cooperatives. Throughout their shared history, Santee Cooper and the cooperatives have worked in tandem to bring businesses large and small to the state, including industries like International Paper, Alcoa Inc., Nucor Steel, AVX, Georgia-Pacific, Builders FirstSource, BP Amoco, American Gypsum, Starbucks and Google.
In September 1988, representatives of Santee Cooper and the electric cooperatives jointly created the Palmetto Economic Development Corporation, known today as the South Carolina Power Team. In the 23 years since, the Power Team has been part of 580 industrial relocation or expansion projects, resulting in $8.1 billion in capital investments, 43,500 new jobs, and $1.3 billion in annual payrolls.
When the Power Team was created, there was an implicit mandate to support the efforts of South Carolina’s local and regional economic developers, as well as the S.C. Department of Commerce. Among the Power Team’s efforts in this arena is its Economic Development Review, in which electric cooperative and economic development communities meet annually to create the relationships that power more effective economic development efforts. The Power Team also has funded statewide work force studies that address labor availability issues.
The Power Team awards scholarships for economic development professionals to take accredited courses and also assists in the development of strategic marketing plans for county and regional economic development corporations. The Power Team works to certify industrial sites in all 46 counties. For more information regarding available Business Sites and Parks in South Carolina, contact George Haygood, CEcD at [email protected] or visit www.scprimesite.com or www.scpowerteam.com
WINSTON-SALEM: AN IDEAL PLACE TO LIVE AND WORK
Living in Winston-Salem, Forsyth County is about living in an ideal location and living at an ideal pace for working, playing, innovating, and growing. More than being good for business, life here is good for individuals and families, scientists and artists, employees and entrepreneurs.
With an ample, skilled workforce and collaborative spirit, the area has successfully transitioned from a manufacturing focus to a center for advances in healthcare, life sciences, financial services, technology research and development, and other expanding sectors of the economy.
One of the reasons Winston-Salem has remained attractive for companies in these emerging industries is its location at the heart of the South Atlantic Region. As the midpoint between Washington, D.C. and Atlanta, GA, Winston-Salem is a city perfectly situated along Interstate 40. In addition, the Piedmont Triad region offers direct access to Interstates I-77, I-73/74, I-85, and I-95 is located just over two hours to the east. This location provides convenient access to the entire Eastern Seaboard, urban centers in the Midwest and Southwest, and international markets.
Another competitive advantage Winston-Salem has over other areas is its abundance of skilled workers. With an estimated 2010 population of 350,670, Forsyth is a core county of the Piedmont Triad Region that boasts a population of more than 1.6 million (a significant labor market and resource for area businesses). Local colleges, such as Forsyth Technical Community College, offer workforce training programs for new companies locating to the area with little to no cost for the employer. Forsyth Tech has done a great job adapting to the changing business environment, offering top-quality, up-to-date programs in numerous health fields. Its respiratory-therapy program is ranked among the top 10 in the nation. The school also has the only two year nanotechnology program in the Southeast. Students interested in motorsports can train at the college’s Richard Childress Race Car Technology Program, named after Winston-Salem native and NASCAR team owner whose drivers included the late Dale Earnheart. Forsyth Tech’s biotechnology program attracted no less an admirer than President Obama, who toured the biotech labs during his recent visit to the campus. The president chose Forsyth Tech for a major speech on global competitiveness because of the school’s national reputation for preparing the workforce of the future and as host of the National Center for the Biotechnology Workforce.
The technology research and development industry has thrived in Winston-Salem over the past few years. The development of the Piedmont Triad Research Park represents a significant addition to North Carolina’s “Biotechnology Corridor.” Today, the research park includes seven buildings with more than 550,000 square feet of office, conference, and lab space. The completion of the Wake Forest BioTech Place in January will add 242,000 square feet. It’s being redeveloped from two former tobacco warehouses donated to the research park by R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company. The primary tenant will be research departments from Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center. Blue Cross Blue Shield announced earlier this year that it is investing $16 million in the project through the N.C. Mill Rehabilitation Tax Credit program. Piedmont Triad Research Park already is home to 55 companies and university departments with more than 900 full-time employees and an annual payroll exceeding $50 million. The completed 230 acre research park will have roughly 6.2 millions square feet of lab, office, support housing and commercial retail space and is expected to employ about 27,000 workers.
In addition to the rapidly expanding technology sector of Winston-Salem’s economy, Federal Express opened its Mid-Atlantic Hub at the Piedmont Triad International Airport in nearby Greensboro. Businesses in time-sensitive industries such as electronics and pharmaceuticals, as well as general logistics and suppliers, can capitalize on this new resource—opening doors for a variety of new opportunities and growth.
Winston-Salem Business Incorporated (WSBI), a local non-profit economic development organization, was able to successfully promote and market the city to Caterpillar for its new $426 million dollar assembly plant. WSBI was able to help coordinate and create an extensive incentive package that Caterpillar was unable to turn down. This project will create over 500 jobs for the area and draw other manufacturing companies to the region.
NC PUBLIC POWER: LEADING THE WAY TO ECONOMIC RECOVERY
As business leaders around the world continue to scan the daily headlines for encouraging economic news, at least one is already seeing signs that the global crisis has finally run its course.
“We’ve seen a measurable uptick in interest and activity over the last year and a half,” said Brenda Daniels, economic development manager for ElectriCities, a not-for-profit government service organization representing North Carolina cities and towns that own electric distribution systems.
Daniels says she isn’t overly surprised to find her organization’s membership playing the role of leading economic indicator.
“Companies that come out of the gate fastest and strongest after a recession are typically those that are most focused on efficiency and cost control,” she said, speaking from ElectriCities headquarters in Raleigh. “Not coincidentally, efficiency and cost control are two areas in which we excel.”
Daniels explained that one of ElectriCities’ many roles is to represent member communities to expanding and relocating companies. Her staff maintains comprehensive databases for all 70+ public power municipalities in North Carolina.
As easily as flipping a switch, a site selection professional can order detailed reports on dozens of North Carolina sites, from mountains to coast. Within 48 hours of a request, ElectriCities will send profiles of locations that precisely match the company’s specifications.
Daniels emphasized that the process is “fast, efficient, and entirely confidential.” Using ElectriCities as an introduction to North Carolina, site search managers have a turnkey information source. “They find all the information they need in one place.” ElectriCities’ staff produces a full profile that details infrastructure, site availability (including site and building photos), labor and even lifestyle data such as schools, hospitals and golf courses.
ElectriCities remains a partner through the entire process, helping companies with utility related issues, arranging site visits, and facilitating contact with local, county and state officials. There’s another key factor that’s making the phones ring at ElectriCities: the availability, reliability and affordability of North Carolina public power.
“It’s no coincidence that some of the state’s most dynamic growth has occurred in our public power communities,” said Daniels. “Advanced manufacturing, food processing, metal-working, plastics—any power-intensive industry is going to find significant advantages here.”
Companies based in ElectriCities member communities recognize the cost efficiencies and superior customer service public power provides. Municipal utilities don’t have to pay dividends to shareholders, and those savings can be passed on to the utilities’ customers. Both ElectriCities and the member utilities work closely with companies to help them manage their power usage and keep costs down.
Businesses are also happy to have the personal touch public power provides. “Customers always tell us, we’d much rather work with you. We can call somebody, we can get an answer,” said Larry Cranford, electric department director in Statesville, an ElectriCities member community. ”
Daniels believes the optimism she sees is also driven by North Carolina itself, which is renowned for its pro-business climate, excellent job training programs, and low labor costs. “People just expect North Carolina to bounce back faster and stronger than other places.”
She cited West Pharmaceuticals, which will expand in Kinston with $29M in investment; KCST (Keihin Carolina System Technology, Inc.), which manufactures automotive electronic controls, has expanded in Tarboro with 50 jobs and $13M in investment. “The decisions of these companies to expand here shows a lot of confidence in North Carolina and our public power communities.”
To learn more, call Brenda Daniels by phone at 919-218-7027, email at [email protected]; or visit www.electricities.com.