NC Tops Annual Awards for 2022 Economic Development Projects

A combination of economic development projects in multiple sectors – life sciences, electric vehicles, semiconductors, and even retail – helped land North Carolina the sole top spot in the latest issue of Area Development, a quarterly publication covering site selection, facility planning and economic development.

North Carolina received Area Development’s Platinum Shovel award, the highest honor among its 2023 Shovel Awards. In 2021, the first year that the publication had the Platinum level, North Carolina shared the top spot with Tennessee. Area Development receives its information from state economic development officials.

Specifically in life sciences, this is what Area Development called out:

“Eli Lilly and Co. has promised to spend a billion dollars and hire nearly 600 people at a brand-new manufacturing facility in Concord that will make injectable products and devices. The company cited local manufacturing technology experience and the proximity of science-focused universities among its decision points.”

Lilly rendering
Rendering of Lilly’s RTP campus. -Eli Lilly photos

The North Carolina Biotechnology Center’s 2022 story on the Lilly facility is here.

“Also, in pharmaceuticals, BestCo is expanding in Mooresville. The company makes over-the-counter drugs and supplements and has promised a $177 million investment that’ll create nearly 400 jobs. Another life sciences win is the $188 million FUJIFILM Irvine Scientific facility in Research Triangle Park that will make cell culture media and create about a hundred jobs,” Area Development said.

NCBiotech covered the BestCo news in this story and the FUJIFILM Irvine story here. NCBiotech also published this roundup of all major life sciences announcements that were made in 2022 statewide, which totaled some $2.1 billion in investments with plans for creating 2,700 new jobs.

“Our state’s success in attracting the investment of life sciences companies, and indeed companies from many other industries, is the result of the coordinated 

work of many partners throughout North Carolina, including NCBiotech,” said Doug Edgeton, president and CEO of NCBiotech. “We are encouraged that world-class life sciences companies continue to choose North Carolina as the place for creating meaningful career opportunities and improving the lives of patients around the world.”

The publication also recognized five other states with Gold Shovel awards – Ohio, Arizona, Kentucky, Kansas, and Idaho. Area Development invited each of the 50 states to submit information about its top-10 job creation and investment projects. 

BestCo rendering
Rendering of BestCo's Mooresville expansion. - BestCo photo

For North Carolina, life sciences is only one of the many industries in which the state excelled. “North Carolina earns another Platinum Shovel with a list of major projects that covers most of the economic bases,” the publication pointed out. “Leading the way is one of our Manufacturing Project of the Year awards, which happens to be one of the many related to the manufacture of electric vehicles, or EVs. A Vietnamese newcomer to this sector, VinFast plans to hire as many as 7,500 people at a plant in Moncure, North Carolina, which is slated to be operational by 2025.”

Area Development considered only those projects that began to materialize in 2022. The Shovel Awards are given to the states with the highest weighted scores based on the number of high-valued added jobs per capita, amount of company investment and industry diversity.

A report on the 2022 Shovel Award winners is published in the Q2 2023 issue of Area Development.

Christopher Capot, NCBiotech
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