North Carolina is America’s best state for business, according to a new ranking by CNBC.
While the Old North State has rarely fallen outside CNBC’s top 10 in the ranking’s 15-year history, 2022 is the first year it has eclipsed all competition. North Carolina’s previous best was second place in 2021.
What made the difference this year, CNBC said, was state leaders “managing to put aside their very deep political divisions.”
Bipartisanship isn’t one of North Carolina’s hallmarks. Democratic legislators often decry the Republican-controlled General Assembly’s exclusionary practices. Republicans bristle at Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper’s frequent vetoes.
But the two parties have found some common ground in business. Together, the governor and legislature have stimulated unprecedented market growth over the last few years.
“We disagree about plenty, and my vetoes have been able to stop a lot of bad legislation that has come forward,” Cooper told CNBC Wednesday after the ranking was released. “But high-paying jobs for our people is something we have to agree upon.”
Rep. Jason Saine, a Lincolnton Republican and head House budget writer, said that both sides — Republican legislative leaders and Cooper — are “business minded.” While Republicans disagree with Cooper on some things, he said, the governor is excited to go after businesses coming to North Carolina.
“We’ve all enjoyed those victories, and that’s OK,” Saine told The News & Observer in a phone interview. “We can be bipartisan to attract those companies.”
In April, VinFast, a Vietnamese startup with ambitious plans to produce a line of electric vehicles, announced it would erect a North American manufacturing site in Chatham County. The company will invest more than $4 billion to build its battery and vehicle production plant.
Boom Supersonic, a fledgling airplane maker with plans to reinvent supersonic passenger travel, said in February it would build a $500 million “flagship” facility at Greensboro’s Piedmont Triad International Airport.
Apple, Google and Toyota are among several established companies selecting North Carolina for significant operations. Each plans to hire more than 1,000 employees in the Triangle.
“It’s great that North Carolina has been honored as the number one state for business in the country,” Cooper told The News & Observer. “That’s due to our people. I think that our talented and diverse workforce was a driving force in this choice.”
The state budget — which Republican lawmakers drafted last month and Cooper signed into law Monday — appropriates many millions of extra funds to incentivize new businesses.
An unnamed chip manufacturer could earn $112.5 million for a “qualifying project in Chatham County,” providing the state’s Economic Investment Committee awards a job development investment grant, or JDIG. The company would have to invest at least $4.8 billion and create at least 1,800 jobs.
The budget also calls for a “Megasite Readiness Program” to expand North Carolina’s inventory of land exceeding 1,000 acres and “prepared to suit the needs of a future large-scale plant.” The goal is to “ensure the State’s ongoing competitiveness for major manufacturing opportunities, including the aerospace, automotive, clean energy, food processing, and life science industries,” the budget says.
Reporters Danielle Battaglia and Dawn Baumgartner Vaughan contributed to this report.
This story was originally published July 13, 2022 5:47 PM.
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