RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK, N.C. – The landing of Google could go down as one of the most important victories for North Carolina in the ever-intensifying recruitment battles for high-paying high tech jobs.

But who would have ever thought that Lenoir, a city of 60,000 in rural Caldwell county far from major metro centers such as Charlotte, the Triad and tech-heavy Research Triangle Park would be the winner in a sweepstakes with a $600,000,000 “server farm” and more than 200 jobs as the grand prize.

The location makes the victory even more important.

Lenoir and neighboring regions have been absolutely hammered by the loss of furniture and manufacturing jobs. The area is emblematic of North Carolina’s struggle to adjust from the sound economy of the past (tobacco, furniture, textiles, manufacturing) to the “new” economy of high tech, life science, and services.

Now, North Carolina can boast of having Google – perhaps the world’s best-known Internet company now – alongside IBM, Cisco, Network Appliance, GlaxoSmithKline, PPD, Quintiles Transnational, and so many more high tech and biotech players.

As an added bonus, N.C. can now tell industrial recruiters that if Google can find a home in rural areas of the state, why not others?

For years, economic developers and leaders outside of RTP, the Triad and Charlotte have complained that too much emphasis was placed on the big metro areas. The three had done pretty well – but most of all RTP for high-tech and life science, Charlotte for banking with the Triad lagging but working hard to catch up.

Now, the rest of the state can rally around the Google victory.