Two Years Running, NC Nabs Top Award for Recruitment Efforts Totaling $10B in 2021

Site Selection cover

North Carolina has scored top honors for its recruitment efforts for the second year running.

The Old North State won Site Selection magazine’s 2021 Prosperity Cup, beating out Texas and Tennessee for project wins in 2021, to remain No.1. That’s up five spots from its No. 6 place in 2020.

In total, the state announced new projects totaling 185 business recruitments with 24,224 new jobs created and some $10 billion in capital investment, the magazine noted. That included Toyota’s planned $1.29 billion electric vehicle investment in North Carolina, announced in early December.

Site Selection also singled out the state’s life sciences recruitment efforts, which yielded 19 major projects in the sector representing some $4 billion in investments and more than 4,800 jobs. Top investors included FUJIFILM Diosynth Technologies ($2 billion), Amgen ($550 million), Thermo-Fisher Scientific ($350 million) and Abzena ($213 million).

“Clearly, this is not some blip,” the global economic development and real estate publication said in its release. “A selective yet striking consensus holds that North Carolina’s increasingly resonant example represents the triumph of long-term planning, perseverance and adaptability, investment and execution.”

The nationwide Prosperity Cup is based on measures of state economic development activity that include the total number of new and expanded facilities in the state, total capital investment in new and expanded facilities, and total number of new jobs created. It also considers measures of business-climate attractiveness.

North Carolina Biotechnology Center’s (NCBiotech) president and CEO Doug Edgeton said the 2021 state recruitment results “speak for themselves.”

“It was a successful year,” he said. But while the region has seen exponential growth in the last few years, he emphasized this isn’t an overnight success story, especially as it relates to the region as a biotech hub. It started back in 1959 when former Governor Jim Hunt established the Research Triangle Park on 7,000 acres anchored by three universities Duke, UNC-Chapel Hill and NC State.

“For the past 38-plus years, North Carolina has continually invested in the life sciences sector,” he said. “This includes investments in training programs that fuel our talent pipeline. Company leaders are paying attention to our globally recognized workforce training infrastructure, our excellent academic institutions and to our state’s strengths in biomanufacturing, gene and cell therapy, contract research, Ag Tech, and diagnostic testing, among other emerging subsectors. “

William Bullock, NCBiotech’s senior vice president for economic development and statewide operations, also stressed the high-level of collaboration between the region’s economic development partners.

Case in point: The Center is currently leading an effort to attract over $50 million in federal funding from the US Economic Development Administration (EDA) to support programs that would expand economic equity and opportunities in life sciences manufacturing to distressed communities and populations across the state, he said.

“Dozens of partners have come together to participate in this [Build Back Better] proposal,” he said. This gives North Carolina “a competitive advantage in the life sciences recruitment game.”

Christopher Chung, CEO of the Economic Development Partnership of North Carolina (EDPNC), welcomed Site Selection’s recognition and cited the North Carolina Biotechnology Center as “a key asset” and “hugely important partner” in the state’s recruitment efforts.

He also credited changes to the language governing North Carolina’s Job Development Incentive Grant program, part of the state budget approved by Gov. Roy Cooper less than three weeks before Toyota’s announcement in December.

“For a long time, there was a perception, real or otherwise, that North Carolina was insufficiently aggressive on the incentives front to win these types of projects,” Chung told Site Selection. “With incentives, you don’t want to give away the store, but you have to be very competitive because other states are very likely to put their best offers forward. And either we didn’t have the tools in the toolbox, or we were not sufficiently competitive using the tools we did have. A lot of that’s been remedied now.”

The award is shared by EDPNC and the North Carolina Department of Commerce. The EDPNC operates under contract to state Commerce, and they work together to support the creation of sustainable jobs and investment in the state. North Carolina also won the Prosperity Trophy in 2017.

Chantal Allam, NCBiotech Writer
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