Partnership Drives Success In The Tar Heel State

North Carolina’s commitment to a top workforce, clean energy, and a favorable business climate are credited for the state’s success.

By Kari Williams
From the January/February 2024 Issue


With a professional workforce of more than 300,000 and a cost of living below the national average, North Carolina continues to build on its status as Business Facilities’ 2022 State of the Year.

“Our approach in North Carolina is rooted in the partnership among our state, regional, and local partners including the North Carolina Department of Commerce, the North Carolina General Assembly, the Economic Development Partnership of North Carolina (EDPNC), and other regional economic development and private-sector organizations that support our efforts,” Governor Roy Cooper said in the EDPNC’s 2022 annual report.

North Carolina business climate
Johnnie Mercers Fishing Pier in Wrightsville Beach, east of Wilmington, NC. (Photo: Adobe Stock/Chansak Joe A.)


The electric vehicle and battery industries are part of that success, with EDPNC’s CEO Christopher Chung crediting the state’s commitment to clean energy, its top workforce, and a favorable business climate for its leadership in those industries.

Several companies have interest in the Tar Heel State, including John Deere Electric Powertrain, which will invest nearly $70 million to establish its North American headquarters in Kernersville.

Global battery material manufacturer Epsilon Advanced Materials will invest nearly $650 million to establish a new facility outside of Wilmington. Brunswick County will gain 500 jobs as a result.

In the EV industry, Toyota is putting another $8 billion toward its first North American EV battery manufacturing facility (This project won Business Facilities’ Platinum Deal of the Year Award. See page 28 for more). The project, first announced in 2021 and expected to be complete in 2025, was a $1.29 billion investment that has since expanded. Toyota expects to bring more than 5,000 jobs to the state.

Gov. Cooper said the state also has “the best array of public and private universities and the best community college system in the country.”

“We have three Tier 1 research universities, the most historically Black colleges and universities in the country, and a network of 58 community colleges dedicated to preparing our people for the workforce of tomorrow,” he said. “North Carolina also boasts an affordable cost of living and low business costs in a friendly and beautiful state with something for everyone.”

Greenville, North Carolina: Affordability Meets Opportunity

If you ask Michael Beavans, a 2016 East Carolina University graduate who launched his career in Greenville, NC, he will tell you he couldn’t imagine living anywhere else.

“Living and working in Greenville has been incredible—there is so much to do here,” the Raleigh native said.

He has a degree in industrial engineering technology and works at Avient Corporation in Greenville as a continuous improvement manager.

North Carolina business climate
Affordability in Greenville, North Carolina, is one of the biggest draws for recent graduates to remain in the area. (Photo: Aaron Hines, City of Greenville)


“I was attracted to Avient not just because of the salary and benefits but because I also enjoy knowing that what I do makes a difference,” Beavans said. “Dyneema®, the world’s strongest fiber™, made right here in Greenville, is directly linked with our nation’s military, police, and first responders.”

“[Greenville offers] not only career opportunities in a variety of fields and industries, but it’s an affordable area that’s equally close to major cities and the beach.”

— Josh Lewis, President/CEO, Greenville Eastern North Carolina Alliance

Avient provides specialized and sustainable material solutions that transform customer challenges into opportunities, bringing new products to life for a better world. The Greenville site is ISO 9001 certified and runs on 100% renewable electricity and is investing in a water recycling project with a target of 80% recycled water.

“This responsibility keeps me motivated to focus on quality and providing the best product for our customers and end users. It’s critically important because the products we make here literally save lives every day,” Beavans said.

Like many young professionals who graduated from East Carolina University, the third-largest university in North Carolina, he was looking for an opportunity to grow locally and stay in the area.

Training programs at Pitt Community College and Pitt County Schools are also equipping students with in-demand skills so they’re ready to enter the workforce right after graduation. The Greenville metropolitan statistical area is seeing growth with not only local graduates staying, but also new talent coming to the area for career opportunities. After all, according to a RentCafé report, Greenville is ranked as the trendiest city in the country for Gen-Z renters.

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“Young people want to live and work in Greenville,” said Josh Lewis, President and CEO of the Greenville Eastern North Carolina Alliance. “There are not only career opportunities in a variety of fields and industries, but it’s an affordable area that’s equally close to major cities and the beach. It’s a great place to call home and raise a family.”

As manufacturing and pharmaceutical industries—such as Thermo Fisher Scientific and Catalent, both with recent expansion announcements—continue to grow in Greenville new jobs are on the way with a talent pipeline ready to fill them. There are also emerging industries paving the way for even more growth, including YouTube content creation since MrBeast, the biggest YouTuber in the world, is located in Greenville.

“One of the biggest draws is the affordability of the area and when I compare it to larger cities, it allows for such opportunity,” Beavans said. “I was able to buy a house just a couple years into my engineering career and in many places across the country, that’s not even possible. I know that for a fact because I lived in a bigger city before moving here and I still have the ability to travel, save, and invest.”

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