North Carolina: Broadening Horizons

In North Carolina, economic development is flourishing with record investment in 2021. An Annual report from EDPNC shares the highlights.

By BF Staff
From the May/June 2022 Issue

The 2021 Annual Report from the Economic Development Partnership of North Carolina (EDPNC) is titled, “Together We Thrive”. This reflects the collaboration between partners throughout the state working to attract and grow business, foster talent, and offer a great quality of life. Here is an excerpted overview from the report:

Economic Development Partnership of North Carolina EDPNC
Christopher Chung, CEO, Economic Development Partnership of North Carolina (EDPNC)

“Our shared successes speak to North Carolina’s fundamental advantages—our strong workforce, thriving industries, and diversity of people and place—which appeal to both businesses and individuals seeking greener pastures in a post-pandemic world,” said Christopher Chung, Chief Executive Officer of the EDPNC. “Our annual report is just a snapshot of those successes, but it is a testament to the amazing growth and opportunity happening in our state.

2021 was a blockbuster year for business recruitment in North Carolina. The EDPNC and its partners closed deals on 174 corporate relocation and expansion projects that are expected to create 23,748* new jobs and $10.01 billion in capital investment.

The announced jobs and investment mark an all-time high for North Carolina’s economic development performance. Investments connected to state-supported project wins in 2021 far eclipsed the record-breaking $6.3 billion announced in 2020. New jobs created in 2021 also topped the record of 21,675 state-recruited jobs set in 2019.

Although the EDPNC still had projects on hold resulting from COVID-19, several businesses resumed their relocation or expansion plans in 2021, and many new projects flowed into the pipeline. “The pandemic forced companies to take a hard look at their supplier networks and business forecasts,” said Melissa Smith, EDPNC vice president of business recruitment and development. “As companies reassessed, uncertainty gave way to confidence for many.” This is evidenced by the fact that the state’s active pipeline of projects during the year represented the highest in potential capital investment on record.

Economic Development Partnership of North Carolina EDPNC
Downtown Raleigh, NC

Four megaproject wins fueled the record-setting capital investment of 2021. They included FUJIFILM Diosynth’s $2 billion biopharmaceutical manufacturing facility in Holly Springs; Apple’s $1 billion investment to build its first East Coast campus in the Research Triangle region; Red Bull, Rauch, and Ball’s choice of Concord for a $1 billion beverage manufacturing campus; and Toyota’s $1.29 billion investment to build its first North American electric vehicle battery production facility in Randolph County.

“Our banner year is a testament to the fundamental advantages of North Carolina as a place to do business, despite a global pandemic. An employer’s decision to locate and grow here is a validation of our state’s workforce and business environment as one of the nation’s best. Businesses know that North Carolina is a place where they can thrive,” said Smith.

*This number reflects jobs created by projects in which the EDPNC was involved. Additional jobs may have been created in the state by projects in which the EDPNC was not involved.

Sampling Of Projects In 2022 To Date

Supersonic Growth

In January, Boom Supersonic announced it will manufacture its new Overture supersonic passenger aircraft at the Piedmont Triad International Airport (PTI) in North Carolina. Through 2030, the Overture Superfactory campus at PTI will bring an investment of more than $500 million and create 1,761 jobs with an average salary of $68,792.

The Overture aircraft will be capable of flying at twice the speed of today’s fastest passenger jets: Overture flights will reduce travel time to less than four hours from New York to London.

“We are excited to welcome Boom Supersonic to PTI, the Center of North Carolina Aerospace,” said Paul Mengert, Chairman of the Piedmont Triad Airport Authority. “Boom Supersonic had many options where it could locate its manufacturing facilities. Boom chose the Piedmont Triad because of our transportation and airport infrastructure, available educational opportunities and business friendly environment.”

Boom Supersonic is developing a sustainable, supersonic aircraft capable of speeds twice as fast as today’s commercial airliners. Overture will be 205 feet long, carry 65 to 88 passengers, have a cruising altitude of 60,000 feet and a range of 4,888 miles. The company plans to have Overture ready to enter service in 2029.

The initial phase of the project at PTI will involve the development of a production hangar fronting the south side of Interstate 73 where Boom will manufacture aircraft. An additional production facility will be added as demand requires.

PTI faced heavy competition for the Boom Supersonic project from multiple airports. The North Carolina legislature approved $106.7 million for improvements at PTI to help secure the aerospace manufacturer. These improvements include the construction of the initial building, site work and access roads.

The state has also approved an $87.3 million Jobs Development Investment Grant (JDIG) for the company, which will receive the grant funding only if it meets employment and investment goals set out by the state. Under the terms of the grant, the company will invest $500 million by 2030.

“We look forward to having Boom Supersonic join our aerospace center and the jobs the company will generate,” Mengert said.

VinFast: Another Record-Breaker

In March, VinFast selected North Carolina for its first North American automotive assembly and battery manufacturing plant. The Hanoi, Vietnam-based auto manufacturer will create 7,500 jobs and invest up to $2 billion in phase 1 of its project at the Triangle Innovation Point megasite in Chatham County. It will be North Carolina’s first car manufacturing plant and is the largest economic development announcement in the state’s history.

“North Carolina’s strong commitments in building a clean energy economy, fighting climate change and reducing greenhouse gas emissions in transportation make it an ideal location for VinFast to develop its premium, smart and environmentally friendly EVs,” said Le Thi Thu Thuy, Vingroup Vice Chair and VinFast Global CEO. “Having a production facility right in the market will help VinFast to proactively manage its supply chain, maintain stabilized prices and shorten product supply time, making VinFast’s EVs more accessible to customers, contributing to the realization of local environmental improvement goals.”

For Phase 1 of the project, VinFast will create a major manufacturing center on a 1,977-acre site with three main areas: electric cars and buses production and assembly, EVs batteries production, and ancillary industries for suppliers. Construction will start in 2022 after the construction permit is granted, with production expected to start in July 2024.

The North Carolina Department of Commerce coordinated the state’s recruitment of VinFast. Other state, regional, and local organizations working on the project include the EDPNC, the North Carolina General Assembly, the North Carolina Community College System, the North Carolina departments of Transportation and Environmental Quality, the North Carolina State Ports Authority, the North Carolina Railroad Company, the GoldenLEAF Foundation, the Triangle J Council of Governments, Duke Energy, Dominion Energy, CSX, Chatham County, the City of Sanford, and the Chatham County Economic Development Corporation.

VinFast’s North Carolina project will be facilitated in part by a Transformative Job Development Investment Grant (JDIG) approved by the state’s Economic Investment Committee. The JDIG agreement authorizes potential reimbursement to the company of up to $316.1 million, paid over 32 years.

VinFast’s JDIG agreement calls for moving as much as $36.6 million into the state’s Industrial Development Fund – Utility Account.

This account helps rural communities finance infrastructure upgrades to attract future business. The state also anticipates providing as much as $450 million to cover the site preparations, road improvements, and for additional water and sewer infrastructure needs.