North Carolina created more jobs in 2011 through out-of-state and international investment than any other place in the U.S., according to an annual report IBM produces for clients.
South Carolina received the most investment just from international business, creating more than 7,000 jobs from foreign investment in 2011, while North Carolina was just under that number (6,950) and ranked third. But, if you add in the money coming from within the country but out of state, North Carolina is at the top.
“Economic development is probably one of the most fiercely competitive industries in the world,” says David Zaharchuk, from the IBM institute. “You have a global competition for investment attraction from investments across industries and across geographies.”
To develop the report, called Global Locations Trends, IBM tracked about a half million investment and job creation announcements worldwide.
A few other findings:
- North Carolina’s top investors came from Germany, China, and France.
- The top sectors investing were transportation, chemical production, and various business services.
Professor Bill Lester at UNC-Chapel Hill says North Carolina does well, because the state develops skilled workers and pairs them with growing industries for relatively low cost.
“You get a relatively lower wage, compared to the industrialized Northeast and California, but you also have a little bit of the California or Massachusetts training level or quality level at a lower cost,” says Lester. “The other thing I would say is that North Carolina is also an attractive place as a market, in and of itself.”
Lester points to the growing population in the Southeast, compared to other regions like Michigan, which may have a similar mix of cost and quality, but dwindling population.
Locally, outside investment is booming. Just this month, MetLife and French nuclear company Areva announced they were opening headquarters in Charlotte. There were 625 foreign firms in Mecklenburg in 2011, almost double the number from the beginning of the decade, according to the Charlotte Chamber of Commerce.