Powered by an economy that has hit its stride, and turbocharged by a long track record of innovation, North Carolina is America’s Top State for Business in 2022.
The Tar Heel State has always been a contender in CNBC’s annual competitiveness rankings, rarely finishing outside the top 10 since the study began in 2007. The state finished a close second last year. But 2022 is the first year it has been able to climb to the top.
Wednesday morning, Governor Roy Cooper joined CNBC’s Scott Cohn at the Oceanic at the Crystal Pier in Wrightsville Beach for a live broadcast where the winner was revealed.
“North Carolina is the best place in America to do business and the main reason is our people,” Governor Cooper said. “This is a great honor, and we’re going to continue to work with our state legislature, businesses, education leaders and employees to build the talented workforce and resilient infrastructure needed to support the high paying jobs of the next generation.”
“North Carolina is proud of its economic success that continues to garner national recognition like being CNBC’s Best State for Business,” said North Carolina Commerce Secretary Machelle Baker Sanders. “Last year, we announced more than 24,000 new jobs and investments exceeding $10.1 billion from future-focused companies in fields like biotechnology, computers, and electric vehicles. There are many factors for our success, including our central East Coast location, premier quality of life and low cost of business, but our greatest asset is our diverse and highly-skilled workforce that is supported by our top-rated education system. We will continue to focus on creative partnerships for talent development as we evolve to meet the demands of existing, new, and future employers like Apple, Toyota, and FUJIFILM that call North Carolina home.”
“To say North Carolina had a record year in 2021 would be an understatement,” said Gene McLaurin, chair of the Economic Development Partnership of North Carolina’s (EDPNC) Board of Directors. “Our economic development successes would not have been possible without collaboration between Governor Cooper, the North Carolina General Assembly, the North Carolina Department of Commerce, the EDPNC, and other public and private partnerships. Because of that collaboration, we have been able to create an award-winning business climate that the biggest companies in the world want to experience and use for their own successes, as well as for the successes of North Carolinians.”
The CNBC study looks at 88 metrics in ten categories of competitiveness. North Carolina ranked highly in the Economy, Access to Capital and Technology and Innovation categories. North Carolina has placed in the top 5 three times since 2017.
Since Governor Cooper took office in 2017, North Carolina has announced over 95,000 jobs including announcements from companies like Apple, Vinfast, Toyota and Centene Corp. This historic recruitment success in both rural and urban parts of North Carolina continues to add value to the manufacturing and clean energy industries already thriving here.
Governor Cooper has been focused on developing and training a strong workforce. In May 2021, the Governor launched the Longleaf Commitment Community College Grants Program that ensures that recent high school graduates from low- and middle-income families will receive at least $2,800 in federal and state grants to cover tuition and most fees at any of the state’s 58 community colleges. In July 2018, the Governor announced the Finish Line Grants Program to help community college students who face unforeseen financial emergencies complete their training.
In October 2021, Governor Cooper launched the North Carolina Child Care Stabilization Grants, a $805 million investment in the state’s early care and learning child care programs. These funds helped child care centers with recruitment and retention and help parents get back to work.
Governor Cooper has focused on supporting businesses through the pandemic, developing partnerships to ensure that workers and consumers could visit businesses safely. He also invested resources to help businesses hardest hit by the pandemic, providing direct cash support to the hospitality industry through the Business Recovery Grant Program, and keeping women- and minority-owned businesses afloat with the ReTool NC Program.
Investments like these helped North Carolina to have among the lowest COVID-related deaths, as well as job losses per capita during the pandemic. According to the NC Department of Commerce, North Carolina’s economy fully returned to the employment level and GDP it enjoyed before the COVID-19 pandemic by mid-2021, well ahead of the nation, and North Carolina’s unemployment rate is at a 22-year low.