North Carolina Economic Development Guide


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SOUTHERN INDUSTRIAL CONSTRUCTORS grow. Under the program, companies that develop interactive digital media are eligible for a 15% tax credit based on payroll. For Spark Plug Games, which has an annual payroll of about $700,000, that could translate into savings of $105,000. "That's easily an additional employee we can hire," O'Neill says. But the hard numbers don't tell the whole story. It was more important for North Carolina to demon- strate interest in being a player in the digital-game industry. "It was a valuable way to address the competitiveness issue against other states that are trying to recruit companies." North Carolina and 21 other states offer financial incentives to gaming companies. O'Neill is frequently recruited by other states and countries, either to relocate or to open a new studio. But he says he is content with Spark Plug's 2,500-square-foot operation in Cary, which is set to expand. When compared with longtime digital-media hubs such as Seattle, San Diego and San Jose, Calif., the Triangle has a distinct advantage: affordability. "It's much more competitive here from a cost standpoint, and that goes for startup costs, cost of living and cost of doing business." The one obstacle he sees to the cluster's long-term success is North Carolina's relative weakness in venture capital. But that too is being addressed through a more cohesive and effective outreach by the region to the venture- capital community. North Carolina's most formidable advantage lies in its attractive quality of life, especially in its urban areas, which appeals to creative young people seeking a big-city vibe. O'Neill is confident his company will be able to rely on steady streams of both out-of-the-box-think- ing programmers as well as classically trained artists and designers. "In the end, the success of companies like Spark Plug is all about getting and keeping the right talent." North Carolina EDG TURNKEY INDUSTRIAL CONSTRUCTORS PLANT INSTALLATIONS & RELOCATIONS RIGGERS/MACHINERY MOVERS MILLWRIGHTS/PRECISION ALIGNMENT ELECTRICAL CONSTRUCTORS INDUSTRIAL PIPING CONCRETE CONSTRUCTORS STRUCTURAL STEEL FABRICATORS & ERECTORS PLANT MAINTENANCE CRANE SERVICES Raleigh (919) 782-4600 Wilmington (910) 762-2482 Charlotte (704) 730-9981 (803) 796-3072 Columbia

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