North Carolina Economic Development Guide


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12 N o rt h C a r o l i N a E Co N o m i C D E v E lo p m E N t G u i D E The partnership was offcially created by the General Assembly in summer 2014. But before it opened, it signed a contract with the state. What does that include? Decker: The contract details the marketing and recruitment services that the partnership, instead of the Department of Commerce, will provide to the state. It also details how the partnership's work will be measured and reported. Financial terms are spelled out, too. Lassiter: It also outlines the expecta- tions for the partnership. It will be more responsive to business needs and recruit- ment. We examined many public-private economic-development models, identi- fying strengths and weaknesses. We used them to build the best one for North Carolina. The partnership is required to raise some of its revenue. Where will the money come from? How will it affect economic development? Lassiter: The partnership was required to raise about $250,000 prior to opening and $1 million to $2 million annually before it can spend state appropriations. Fundraising has begun. We're meeting with businesses statewide and seeking commitments. We're talking to large businesses frst, and then we'll approach midsize ones and service providers. We want business leaders to understand that their support and energy can drive growth, which in turn helps them by expanding the tax base and possibly bringing their supply chain closer. Businesses are already providing this type of support. They invest in trade associations, cham- bers of commerce and regional partner- ships. We're another investment strategy. But ultimately we'll need to identify more revenue sources. Those may relate to data, broadband or other resources that are currently underleveraged. Together, those funds will make the partnership less dependent on taxpayer money. The return on investment will be measured by the investment that existing and new companies make. How will the partnership improve economic development? Decker: The partnership will make looking for relocation sites and doing business in the state easier. It will be the place where companies fnd the informa- tion they need. The restructured Depart- ment of Commerce will make decisions faster. So there are process and system changes on both sides of the equation. The Department of Commerce website will be restructured, making information easier to access. It also will offer a quick connection to a live person who will guide businesses through the process. That's what our customers want. Lassiter: We're making the process faster by removing layers of management and linking the partnership with local economic developers. One partnership board member who is Onslow County's economic-development director said, "I'm really excited because I know exactly what I can deal with and I know what the resources are." The partnership will make the state an even easier sell to businesses. Not every deal will involve incentives, but they all will be about selling North Carolina. Many states wish they had what we have to sell. Our state is blessed with geography that spans mountains to beaches. Its climate is temperate. It has deep-water ports and an interstate system that connects to large cities and consum- ers along the East Coast. Charlotte Douglas International's numerous direct domestic and international fights make it one of the world's fnest airports. Regional airports throughout the state make those destinations just one stop away for everyone. They allow businesses to effortlessly send people and goods around the world. That puts the state on many businesses' short list. Other recent changes, such as the General Assembly cutting corporate- and personal-income taxes so they are below many neighboring states, just make North Carolina a better place to do business. North Carolina is a large state. It's about 550 miles from Murphy in the west to Manteo in the east. Where will the partnership be based? How will it reach the entire state? Lassiter: The partnership is based in Cary, a Raleigh suburb. It's a relatively central spot, but the partnership must have a statewide presence. To do that, the state was divided into eight Prosperity Zones, each comprises several counties, and assigned lead generators and project managers. Each zone also will have N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources and N.C. Department of Transportation offces, making them one-stop shops for solving issues. If a company needs water-and-sewer access or road improvements, it can fnd help locally rather than having to drive to Raleigh. Zone offcials understand their assets such as community- and technical- college capabilities, health care and key employers. Pitt County businesses, for example, have different needs than ones in Ashe County. Meeting specifc needs will help businesses succeed. Decker: Department of Commerce, DENR, NCDOT and N.C. Depart- ment of Cultural Resources have a close relationship. We are a team of state- and local-level professionals focused on serving businesses and creating jobs. We'll fnd the best ways to cooperate and eliminate duplicate efforts, so we serve business the best way possible. How will the partnership help businesses choose the best North Carolina location? Lassiter: I had a recent conversation with a CEO who wants to reshore more manu- facturing, but he can't fnd machinists. The thing is, his Goldsboro factory is

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