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New report emphasizes state's continued economic, business growth

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North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper answers a question during a briefing on the coronavirus pandemic in Raleigh, North Carolina, on May 26, 2020. Photo Courtesy of Ethan Hyman/The News & Observer/TNS.

The Economic Development Partnership of North Carolina released its 2023 annual report on March 28, emphasizing the state's continued economic growth, international investment and the tourism industry's success in the state.

For the second consecutive year, CNBC declared North Carolina as America’s Top State for Business in 2023 — one of the report's main highlights. CNBC also ranked North Carolina as having the leading workforce in the country.

In a message included in the report, Gov. Roy Cooper applauded North Carolina for once again being recognized as a “premier destination for dynamic and innovative companies to invest and create great jobs."

David Rhoades, the communications director for the state Department of Commerce, said North Carolina has many assets that make it a good state to run a business in — which he said includes the state’s transportation infrastructure, competitive taxes and the good pool of trained workers due to its strong education system.

“We had a very successful 2022, and we've continued that trend on to 2023 and have had some really good project announcements,” Maggie Bizzell, the senior communications manager for the EDPNC, said. “We've had some increase in foreign companies coming to North Carolina.”

While 2023 presented difficulties as a result of increasing interest rates, inflation and other economic challenges, North Carolina was able to build on its economic success from 2022. The EDPNC and its partners announced 111 new business recruitment and expansion projects in 2023.

“It’s a growing state with a growing economy, and that's good for all of us, because ultimately, it means more jobs, more tax revenue being generated,” Rhoades said. “Generally, having a growing economy, even with the growing pains that sometimes can come with a growth economy, still is very beneficial to individuals, and of course, their communities.”

Bizzell said the year was especially successful for foreign direct investment. The EDPNC has a business development team that collaborates with foreign businesses and has offices in six other countries.

In the report, Secretary of the N.C. Department of Commerce Machelle Baker Sanders, Chief Executive Officer of the EDPNC Christopher Chung and Chairman of the EDPNC Board of Directors Gene McLaughlin said they are proud of their work to improve business recruitment, industry support, workforce development and tourism

The state especially saw improvements in the electric vehicle industry. Toyota announced its fourth expansion of its battery manufacturing site in Liberty and Epsilon Advanced Materials announced a manufacturing site in Wilmington — the company's first in the U.S. 

The North Carolina tourism industry also saw success as it continues to recover from the pandemic. Commercial hotels received $4.8 billion in revenue in 2023 and tourist spending was predicted to surpass the record high of $33.3 billion from 2022. 

Paula Gilland, CEO of The Purple Bowl, a popular restaurant in Chapel Hill, said while there are large tax incentives for larger businesses and corporations, the same is not necessarily true for small businesses.

“We were just driven here by wanting to provide a third space within our community and provide employment for a wide variety of people,” she said.

@Libbywakefield9

@DTHCityState | city@dailytarheel.com

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