Having exceeded the goal of adding 100,000 new jobs over five years that was set in 2003, leaders of the are preparing a new plan through 2014.

Titled the RTRP leadership unveiled the plan Thursday morning at its annual regional briefing for business and government leaders.

The region appears to be off to a good start. Despite the global economic recession, Charles Hayes, president and chief executive officer of the RTRP was introduced to the beat of James brown, and he said the recruitment pipeline for new jobs and expansions is brimming with opportunity.

“Why did I choose James Brown’s ‘I Feel Good; this morning? Well, I do feel good, even in economic times like this,” Hayes told the crowd. “Let me tell you why.

“Since April we have added 17 companies to our portfolio of businesses considering relocating or expanding here. Those companies represent $1.7 billion in new investment and nearly 6,500 new jobs for our region. This activity comes on the heels of a record-breaking 2008, when companies announced $1.3 billion in new capital investments and nearly 6,000 new jobs.

“So, even in tough times, I feel good because I believe there is simply no place in the world better positioned for economic recovery than right here – The Research Triangle Region of North Carolina.”

Primary goals of the new plan include:

• “Expanding the region’s world-leading life sciences and technology clusters and selected new, emerging clusters.
• “Enhancing and preserving the superior quality of life and competitive business climate that enables the region to attract the talent and investment that companies need to continue being successful.
• “Engaging regional leaders and partner organizations in ensuring the region’s economic competitiveness.”

According to the , the 13-county region added 110,224 new jobs between 2003 and 2008. Counties included are: Chatham, Durham, Franklin, Granville, Harnett, Johnston, Lee, Moore, Orange, Person, Vance, Wake and Warren.

“These results demonstrate the strength of our diverse, knowledge-based economy and affirm that sound, long-range strategic planning brings measurable benefits to our region through good times and bad,” Hayes said at the event, referring to the original “Staying on Top” plan.

Employment grew in all the counties but Warren, which lost 407 jobs, the partnership reported.

Wake added the most jobs (67,781) followed by Durham (14,258), Johnston (9,214) and Orange (5,663)).

The region did lost some 2,500 manufacturing jobs over the past five years, a decline of 2.9 percent. But Hayes noted that nationwide manufacturing jobs fell by 6.9 percent in the same time period.

“Though we’re a technology region, our manufacturing economy has held up well when viewed in a national context,” Hayes said.

Most job growth occurred in healthcare, he added.

Despite the economic slowdown in 2008, the region did secure $1.3 billion in new investments that could create nearly 6,000 jobs, Hayes added. Those included $362 million from IBM for a new data center and a $300 million expansion by Merck at its Durham facility.

According to the partnership, other investments and jobs included:

• $445 million from informatics companies (1,048 jobs)
• $374 million in life sciences (1,059 jobs)
• $251 million in advanced medical care (587 jobs)