North Carolina Economic Development Guide


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both. "It's an easy sell, really, because of the quality of life," says Parker, a Wilmington native who spent 10 years with Round Rock, Texas-based Dell Inc. before returning to his home state to work for Lenovo. "You're on the East Coast between the beach and the mountains. You have a good education system. That can't be underestimated. I can only believe local community colleges were a contributing factor in our ability to fll those positions." Looney, who spent decades with IBM, agrees. "We've had no problem getting a committed, educated workforce in North Carolina. And the cost of doing business in North Carolina versus other states is good. There were no good reasons to leave, and as we grew, there were more reasons to stay." Lenovo passed on state incentives for the Whitsett production line; it put more value on a fexible startup plan that began production quickly. Looney wants the line to produce more. It assembles desktop PCs, laptops and tablets now but could build servers and smartphones, too. "But frst I have to prove the business is there, so I can hire the next 115 people. We want to continue to expand and make the entire product line here eventually." Lenovo has dominated the PC consumer market the past four years. Its products are found in 6,000 North American stores, including Best Buy, Staples and Offce Depot. "That business has doubled every year," Parker says. "It's a $1 billion business just at retail." Lenovo is gaining market share in education — where it is No. 1 worldwide — and government. A three-year contract to supply New York City public schools with more than 50,000 of its ThinkPad laptops was renewed, and it's helping schools across the country transition to digital textbooks. The company has sold computers to colleges and universities for years. PCs built in Whitsett comply with the Trade Agreements Act, which requires the federal government to buy products made or "substantially transformed" in a designated country; China isn't one of NC ECoNo miC DE v Elop mE N t G uiDE them. "Sales to the federal government are up 79% year to year," Parker says. "It's a small segment now but the fastest growing." In addition to being the top PC vendor, Lenovo is plugging into the PC-plus market, which includes tablets, smartphones and smart TVs. The third-largest supplier of such devices, with nearly 6% of the global market, it is the No. 2 smartphone and tablet company in China, the largest PC-plus market. To continue growing, Lenovo needs to hire more workers who can adapt to changing production needs. A proponent of public-private partnerships — the cornerstone of the state's new economicdevelopment strategy — Lenovo supports science, technology, engineering and math education at all levels in the state. Aviation Thrives Here, So CanY U! Greensboro, North Carolina's thriving aviation sector is supported by strong education and training programs, a growing base of aviation and aerospacerelated companies, and available sites at Piedmont Triad International Airport. (336) 387-8302 • (888) 693-6939 (336) 665-5600

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