NC vying for 18 major projects, economic chief says


Christopher Chan, Chief Executive Officer of the North Carolina Economic Development Partnership, in Raleigh, North Carolina, November 17, 2022

Inflation remains a threat. Recession stories are everywhere. The labor shortage has not been resolved. The economist expressed a lot of bearish sentiment at his 2023 Economic Forecasts Forum at the Sheraton Imperial Hotel in Durham on Friday.

But within this caution, one leading voice said North Carolina stands to recruit businesses at an unprecedented rate in the new year.

“Heading into 2023, this trend is consistent with what we’ve seen over the past 18 months.” Attracting new businesses to the state. “We keep seeing a lot of what we call megaprojects.”

Chung said North Carolina has 18 large-scale projects underway, defined as those that create at least 1,000 jobs and pledge to invest at least $1 billion. Did.

“The number of large-scale projects of that magnitude has historically not been at that level,” he said. “You may see some of them in a given year. Been doing this job for 26 years. Until the last three or four years, it’s pretty unheard of for him to compete for two or more of these megaprojects at any given time.” It was a no-brainer.”

The EDPNC website lists five megasites available in the state, each covering over 1,000 acres.

Over the past two years, North Carolina has done well in attracting new businesses such as Vinfast, Boom Supersonic, Apple and Toyota among dozens of smaller projects. This week, trade publication Business Facilities named North Carolina the “2022 State of the Year,” adding another accolades to CNBC’s ranking of the best states for business.

On Friday, Chung drew applause from the forum audience of about 950 people, acknowledging that the collaboration between Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper and the Republican-dominated state legislature spearheaded the major work announcement.

And Chong suggested that this streak could continue.

“At least we are lucky enough to land these projects with the opportunity to continue to attract these transformative job-creating investments that can turn the trajectory of any part of North Carolina,” he said.

Why NC Labor Shortage Continues

But will there be enough people to fill these future jobs?

The ongoing labor shortage facing the state and country was addressed throughout the NC Chamber of Commerce and forums hosted by the NC Chamber of Commerce and the North Carolina Bankers Association.

“All the companies I talk to are people with no talent,” said Tom Birkin, president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond, which serves North Carolina. ‘?’

Birkin noted that North Carolina is one of the few states with a growing workforce, including South Carolina, Florida and Texas. This growth, coupled with North Carolina’s network of colleges and 58 community colleges, is “the base of many opportunities,” he said.

Chong said the labor shortage has particularly hampered the province’s tourism industry, which relies on service staff.

“Where are the workers?” says Laura Ulrich, senior regional economist at the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond, based in Charlotte. That’s the most common question she’s asked.

“And the very frustrating answer is that they work most of the time,” she told the audience on Friday. “People hate that answer, but it’s the answer.”

As of November, North Carolina had 217,000 more jobs than before COVID-19, including about 84,000 additional positions in business and professional services. The only industries in North Carolina that have done so are government and natural resources/mining (the latter just lost a few hundred jobs).

As the demand for labor has increased, workers have had the flexibility to choose more desirable roles.

“People frankly have very difficult and stressful customer-facing jobs (whether they work at fast food, work as a CNA[Certified Nursing Assistant]in a nursing home, or be a public school teacher). No matter what), I’m shifting to a job I can do that’s less stressful and make more or less money,” Ullrich told an audience of bankers and business leaders. “Some of the people who work in your bank’s call center were 3rd grade teachers. That’s just the reality.”

This article was produced with financial support from a coalition of partners led by Innovate Raleigh as part of the Independent Journalism Fellowship Program. N&O maintains full editorial control of the work.

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Brian Gordon is an Innovate Raleigh reporter for The News & Observer and The Herald-Sun. He writes about jobs, start-ups and all the big tech transforming triangles.

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