What’s behind #1?

For the seventh consecutive year, and the ninth time in the last 10 years, North Carolina ranks number one in Site Selection magazine’s list of states with the top business climate. You can read the article here.

However, one area of the article may hold a key as to why North Carolina has spent so much time on top. And it is summed up nicely by Keith Crisco, NC Commerce Secretary:

“We work just as hard on a project with 42 jobs as we do on a project with 860 jobs… That’s how you do well… They’re all a big deal these days. It’s like the Johnny Cash song ‘One Piece at a Time’ — he built that car one piece at a time, and that’s how we’re going to transform the [circumstances] we’re in right now.”

Could this be the difference maker in North Carolina’s economic development efforts? That local and state organizations exert every bit of effort to make expanding or relocating to NC as attractive to smaller businesses as it is to the big boys?

To understand why NC leaders take this approach, think of the suppliers that typically follow a major manufacturer into a new location — smaller companies that, when combined, can add up to a major lift in employment, among other areas. Also, consider what, in part, makes a state or local community less sensitive to economic ups and downs — a diverse range of industries and sizes of business.

Success by association?

Naturally, with the Southeast dominating much of the top 10 spots, NC excels in part because of its location, infrastructure, available workforce, relatively low cost of living, and excellent quality of life. But when a business knows that a state is going to go the extra mile to help your business succeed in its new home, that could be all the incentive a business needs.

Winston-Salem Ranks 4th in Nation for Cost-Effective Operation of Data Centers

A recent survey that ranks Winston-Salem fourth out of 45 metropolitan areas nationwide for cost-effective operation of data centers puts the city in prime position to capitalize on a booming industry.

With the world of secured data becoming progressively more digital, and with more corporations seeking cost-effective initiatives to build data security centers, Winston-Salem has a history of attracting such centers.  Corporations such as Lowe’s Cos., Data Chambers LLC, Wells Fargo, and other financial service institutions have located to Winston-Salem with building costs in excess of $150 million and employing more than one thousand.  The addition of these technology-sector jobs is tremendous for the city of Winston-Salem from a job-creation and business development standpoint.

John Boyd, Jr. of the Boyd Co. of Princeton, NJ who conducted the survey, spoke optimistically in an article in the Winston-Salem Journal about Winston-Salem continuing to increase its presence in this sector, saying, “You (Winston-Salem) also have available land, quality available work force, and an attractive higher-education system.”

Winston-Salem and Forsyth County are in a great position to grow this important sector in the near term.

New Downtown Development Solidifies Winston-Salem’s Biotech Profile

In the next two weeks work will begin on an $87 million investment to renovate two old manufacturing buildings into 242,000 square feet of lab, research and office space in the Piedmont Triad Research Park. The joint venture between the PTRP and Wexford, Inc. will bring over 500 jobs to downtown Winston- Salem, 130 of which will be newly created positions over the next 5 years. The project is a tremendous example of the commitment of city, county and state governments and major private employers to invest in the economic development of our region. The buildings were donated by RJ Reynolds Tobacco Co. and the project will require $6.2 million in infrastructure upgrades that Winston-Salem and Forsyth County have agreed to split. In addition, Federal Historic and State Mill Rehabilitation tax credits will combine to cover approximately $26 million of the total investment. Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center has already pledged to occupy 85% of the new space. The balance of the space should be occupant-ready by early 2012. In keeping with the sustainability commitments of PTRP, Wexford has committed to attaining LEED certification for the new facility.

This project represents one of the largest economic development investments in recent history in Winston-Salem and only adds to the momentum we are seeing in the bioscience sector.