RALEIGH – North Carolina’s busy year of economic development – from a new Apple campus to a huge biotech production facility from Fuijifilm to massive automotive battery factory from Toyota – is a record breaker.

So confirms the North Carolina Department of Commerce.

“2021 has been an extraordinary year for announced jobs and investment in the state,” David Rhoades, communications director for the Department of Commerce, tells WRAL TechWire.

“While we’re still cross checking our project numbers and expect to announce a final tally early in January, at this point we can report we’ve announced 23,748 new jobs and $10 billion in capital investment.”

WRAL TechWire asked Rhoades for an update and if 2021 was a record breaker for the state’s economy and its economic development recruitment team.

“Checking records back to 2005, 2021 will in fact be the top year on both those measures,” Rhoades says. The record tops the previous best of 22,237 jobs announced in 2006, according to Rhoades.

Work continues to land more projects, too, such as a possible supersonic airliner plant in the Triad. And the Greater Raleigh Chamber of Commerce also recently reported that it continues to pursue several projects worth billions in investment.

Is a supersonic jet manufacturer building a facility in the Triad? If so, here’s what it means for NC

The state lost out on Amazon’s big HQ2 project three years ago plus a new Army headquarters and – initially – the Apple campus. Since then and despite the pandemic, jobs have continued to be lured by a variety of incentive packages and overall appeal as stressed by recruiters.

North Carolina regularly ranks high in business recruitment reports and rankings for several reasons, including quality of life, workforce availability and overall talent, costs and taxes. But in a year where the labor market has tightened considerably and unemployment returned to pre-COVID levels, Rhoades put emphasis on workers when asked why this year has been such a strong one for jobs.

“As to why 2021 has been so strong for economic development in North Carolina – far and away it’s the state’s highly skilled and diverse workforce, backed by educational and workforce training systems with a proven track record of supporting and developing that workforce,” Rhoades explains.

“While our leading position in workforce development has been recognized for years — and workforce availability has always been one factor in why companies choose a business location – in an era of tight labor markets around the nation, North Carolina’s strengths in talent development have gained increased visibility among site selectors.”

Toyota to build $1.3B battery plant for EVs, hybrids in Triad

Economic development projects from small to large have made news across the state, but as usual most of the large ones ended up in either the Triangle, the Triad or Charlotte.

The year is not over yet. A week of business remains.

Even if the year ends quietly, Rhoades says Commerce continues to press ahead for more projects.

Apple making big impact in the Triangle before it even arrives

“And in today’s business environment, we know we can’t rest on our laurels in this area, which explains why the state’s new strategic plan for economic development is named the First in Talent plan,” he says.

“Published in August, the First in Talent plan provides a road map for keeping North Carolina’s workforce strong and growing. Combined with the state’s traditional strengths in transportation, geography and business climate, we’re optimistic there’s a lot more growth to come in 2022 and beyond.”

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