Insights – Spring 2017

Featured In This Issue


Click below to view the presentation!

2017.05.17 BOOST NC Economic GROWTH Presentation


North Carolina once again ranks as the most competitive state in economic development activity, according to a closely watched annual business ranking by Site Selection magazine.

“Businesses big and small, domestic and foreign are investing in North Carolina for the same reasons they have been doing so all along — a healthy supply of workers despite very low unemployment, a favorable climate and location halfway along the East Coast, two international airports and industry sectors like IT, biotech and aerospace that are magnets for new investment,” Site Selection says in its May issue coverage of the Prosperity Cup.

The nationwide 2018 Prosperity Cup is based on measures of state economic development activity in 2017 that include the total number of new and expanded facilities in the state, capital investment and number of new jobs created. It also considers measures of business-climate attractiveness.

The award, which recognizes the most competitive state-level economic development groups, was presented to the North Carolina Department of Commerce and the Economic Development Partnership of North Carolina, which lead business recruitment efforts on behalf of the state.

“The fundamentals that have been drawing companies for a long time really haven’t changed much,” Christopher Chung, EDPNC chief executive officer, told Site Selection. “These include a great quality of life, well-renowned educational institutions and population growth with a lot of people coming out of school or mid-career who are moving here with a job or in search of one, all of which deepens the talent pool. We get a lot of in-migration from the Midwest and the Northeast.”

North Carolina has been a consistent leader in Site Selection‘s  Prosperity Cup recognition, ranking No. 1  in 2018, 2017 and 2016. States rounding out the top five in this year’s Prosperity Cup are Tennessee (2), Georgia (3), Texas (4) and Michigan (5).

The 2018 Prosperity Cup announcement highlighted, among other things, the state’s robust population growth and its success in attracting foreign direct investment.

“We’re getting Israeli companies, Japanese companies — we’re part of the global marketplace,” North Carolina Commerce Secretary Anthony Copeland told Site Selection. “North Carolina is the ninth-most populous state in the country now, and we have an economy larger than Sweden.”

The magazine also stressed the state’s strengths in innovation and manufacturing, noting it ranked fourth in the nation in measures of appropriations for higher education as a portion of gross domestic product (GDP). High-tech business formation exceeds the national average by 23 percentage points, and the state’s manufacturing output (as a percentage of GDP) is the fourth-highest in the nation.

Another North Carolina plus is its vast 58-campus community college system, which responds nimbly to growing companies’ specific requirements for worker training, the magazine says. The state’s community college campus network is the third-largest in the U.S.

For full coverage of the 2018 Prosperity Cup, visit Site Selection’s website.

2017 Charlotte Regional Market Outlook

June 1, 2017

Prepared by John Paul Galles and  Maryl A. Lane

In what way has this region changed over the last 20 years?

Over the last few decades, Charlotte business leaders have given substantial thought to city and regional growth through various initiatives: Advantage Carolinas; Create It, Make It, Move It; Charlotte 2030; Center City 2020 Vision Plan; Long-range CLT Airport Plan; etc. In a very purposeful way, all of the fundamental assets for economic growth have been put in place:

  1. Ballantyne Corporate Park was created, developed and sold!
  2. CLT Airport has grown and continues to grow;
  3. Our highway system is in place—I-485 is now completed; I-77 expansion is now in process;
  4. Our transportation corridors are expanding as is our light rail system;
  5. CSX and NS Intermodal Centers have been established providing access to 5 major ports;
  6. Merger of US Airways into American Airlines has resulted in greater access to more cities in U.S. and in world;
  7. UNC Charlotte has become a research university;
  8. There is an abundance of highly rated private universities;
  9. CPCC has become a world-class workforce education and training center;
  10. We have successfully survived banking consolidations and remain the second largest banking center;
  11. We have an abundance of energy companies with an EPIC focus;
  12. City development has revived a stagnant uptown and SouthEnd, and continues with NoDa and revisiting SouthPark;
  13. Our healthcare systems have become top-ranked;
  14. We continue to expand recreation and cultural center—parks, galleries, hiking and boating;
  15. Our energy costs are among the lowest in the country and our providers among the best;
  16. Sports teams have expanded to include the NFL, the NBA, minor league baseball, and some forays into soccer;
  17. We’ve added nearly 1,000 foreign-owned entities to the business community;
  18. We’re becoming a headquarters city!

How would you describe where we might be 20 years from now?

  • City-state: What was once a mid-tier city, has expanded beyond its confines to a region extending across state lines, and is well on its way to becoming a city-state extending across a 100-mile radius. The population has increased more outside of the city limits and even outside of the county limits, to what will eventually be a center city of Charlotte ringed by towns and cities outside of Charlotte and in South Carolina. Charlotte will be the hub of a huge region and must plan for this with its roads and transportation. Charlotte will be a regional, cross border city-state and development will follow.
POPULATION 2000 2015 Growth 2035 Growth
Charlotte, NC 540,828 827,097 53%
Mecklenburg County 695,454 1,034,078 48% 1,471,235 42%
CLT Region 2,038,719 2,801,806 38% 3,689,436 52%
  • Key Logistical Access to U.S. and Global Markets: The central location of CLT in the Southeast region becomes an even more important asset in the global era as a strategic location for entering and doing business in the United States, and strategic location for manufacturing serving both the U.S. and global markets given its proximity to the ports.
  • Enhanced Air and Rail: CLT Airport will have grown from 93 gates and 3 runways to 175 Gates and 5 runways and a new tower. We will be a major logistics hub with daily train routes to the major ports—Wilmington, Charleston, Savannah, Norfolk and Jacksonville.
  • Comprehensive CATS: CATS Light Rail will have a Blue line continuing from the city to UNCC, a Red line to Lake Norman, a Silver line running to CPCC Levine Campus in Matthews, Gold line CPCC Center City to Johnson C. Smith University, and a new line running from the city to CLT Airport.
  • Get on the MLS Field: Major league soccer is important to Charlotte because of its draw on younger people and its international popularity. Facebook has announced that as of March 18th, it will begin live streaming soccer games. Charlotte’s participation is a NEW avenue for growth.
  • More Mixed Use Developments: We will see a greater emphasis in the real estate development for mixed use communities, like the River District, combining commercial with residential embracing diversity and inclusivity.
  • New Bridge from Gastonia to Charlotte: To accommodate the growth west of the airport, we will have completed a new bridge from Gastonia to Charlotte and new roads and intersections to accommodate both commercial and residential needs.
  • A Medical School: We will have a four-year med school which allows us to take advantage of research money, innovation and technology enhancements. The med school will serve as the catalyst for a medical research and development hub for the East Coast. Every other city we are competing with has this.
  • Accommodate and Engage Diversity, Promote Inclusivity: We will do a better job of accommodating and engaging our increasingly diverse population. For example, over 30% of our voters will be Hispanic in 20 years.
  • Emphasize Quality of Life: Quality of life should remain uppermost in our planning efforts.
  • Increasing Foreign Direct Investment: Currently, Charlotte is home to about 1,000 foreign firms. With an extra effort, we can double that number in 20 years.
  • Re-think Job Focus and Supporting Services: With technological innovation, we need to re-think and refine our focus on jobs and job training.
  • Broadband Access: There is an increasing amount of evidence that broadband providers are providing better Internet access to their most affluent customers. We need to make sure high-speed broadband access is available across the CLT region. This will be critical to ameliorating the urban/rural divide as well as augmenting upward mobility, two of the region’s most significant weak points.
  • Public School Teacher Pay: We need to reevaluate our teacher pay if we want to be a truly globally competitive city.

When you compare where and what we are now, is the ‘personality’ of Charlotte what you expected?

It is on its way. It is headed in the right direction. The foundation is laid.

A collaborative effort through the UNC Charlotte Urban Institute working with 14 counties has developed a core set of values that provide a center point for working together to improve our communities. They are:

  • A strong, diverse economy
  • Sustainable, well-managed growth
  • A safe and healthy environment
  • Increased collaboration among jurisdictions
  • Enhanced social equity
  • High quality educational opportunities

At the same time, we need a better vision for what we seek to become as we grow in our global economy facing continually aggressive technological change. The pace of technological advances will change the very nature of life and living on this planet. The nature of work will change as traditional jobs become more and more scarce.

There is no doubt about it. Charlotte is becoming a global city-state! We have prepared our region for a future of greatness. We need to make sure we perform to pursue, deliver, maintain and continue to than change process for the benefit of everyone in our community. We need to ensure that there are pathways for upward mobility delivering smart, capable, intelligent, talented, innovative contributors to our business growth. We must be inviting and welcoming to those who can participate and contribute even more to our success. It is essential that we appreciate and celebrate diversity and inclusivity.

We need to become more knowledgeable about what the CLT region’s role is in the U.S. and in the global community.

What are the most critical issues we face as a community now? And if not addressed, how will those challenges affect us?

Public school improvements/Teacher salaries Urban/Rural Divide
Regional infrastructure/Partnerships with NC and SC Political Disruption
Protect our rivers, streams and lakes Low-income housing
Loss of manufacturing jobs Crime/Drugs/Culture

Does the leadership in Charlotte have a larger responsibility beyond crafting high quality commercial real estate projects and community planning?

Yes, we need to get out in front of this growth and change and keep planning for it—CLT Airport plans, Regional Freight Mobility plans, etc. We need to expect and anticipate change. We need to become more attractive to international investors, need more comfort with diversity. We want a place where brain-power is welcome and invited and engaged.

If we want to live up to our potential to become one of the most significant city-states of this century, an enviable portal to markets domestic and abroad, this city needs to better define its goals and ambitions. Its citizens need to have a steadfast pride in what the city-state stands for and is trying to accomplish, so much so that every young person and business person in Charlotte becomes an ambassador for the city-state wherever they go or travel.

What about Charlotte’s Upward Mobility?  What role does future economic development play in that effort?

From the John M. Belk Endowment, Building an Infrastructure of Opportunity

Taking Action: Priorities and First Steps

A strong infrastructure of opportunity is beyond the reach of any single institution to create: discrete pockets of excellence are insufficient for changing the trajectory of broad opportunity and improving education and employment outcomes at scale. To move from discrete programming to an aligned infrastructure of opportunity requires adoption of a guiding framework for communities to assess and create an action plan that is grounded in a common vision of economic productivity and advancement for the community and its people; design and implementation of research-based policies and programs that can be scaled for an entire population, hold high expectations for educators, employers, and the workforce, and maintain momentum through continuous improvement; and commitment to providing adequate resources that support the common vision. The data and community anecdotes in this report support eight action steps for communities across the state:

  1. Use local data to understand history, analyze current educational and economic outcomes, and identify gaps in the education-to-career continuum. Good planning requires good data. Communities should begin by disaggregating data, identifying outcome disparities across race, gender, family status, and wealth, and uncover root causes.
  2. Commit to a common vision for creating pathways to family supporting work that allow more individuals to build wealth and thrive in the community. This integrating vision should focus on the intersection of economic competitiveness and equity to create wealth in a way that lifts people up, particularly those stuck—generation-to-generation—at the lower-end of the income distribution.
  3. Seek out opportunities to participate in and learn from national, regional, or state-level initiatives and learning communities. There are communities across the region and within the state—including some of those included in this report— that are models of success, suggesting helpful policies and practices communities can adopt and identifying pitfalls they may encounter.
  4. Embrace planning and implementation practices that engage each part of the system: from individuals to institutions. Good planning requires attention to and engagement of the whole system; that means every level of the education system, small and large employers, and all municipal governments. Whole system engagement requires deliberate inclusion of historically marginalized communities. The places and people in the most extreme distress reveal system failures most clearly.
  5. Encourage large institutions and employers to take the lead in innovation and cooperation. To support a strong education to-career continuum that aligns with workforce needs, both higher education institutions and employers must be nimble, responsive to local needs, and have the ability to shift focus as economic opportunity shifts.
  6. Cultivate investment and assume potential in the emergent workforce. Communities with strong institutions and systems are ones where leaders act on a belief that talent is everywhere in their community and invest in people to develop and unleash that talent.
  7. Free up resources to address gaps in the education-to-career continuum. In environments of scarcity, communities and institutions must have the courage to allocate resources to reflect the challenges identified on the education-to-career continuum. Too often, resources are siloed and spent based on historical habits, not aligned to a vision of the future.
  8. Seek out local capital to create capacity for collaboration. Risk-taking and innovation require foundational investment. Philanthropy can be catalytic, testing new ideas, building new institutions, and lowering the cost of social innovation by subsidizing risk. Local philanthropy can take the lead to leverage additional local, state, and federal investment. ■

*Focus recruitment of businesses and jobs on those entities which pay wages that will lift workers to the next socio-economic level. Turn resources to targeted business sectors that will pay wages and/or salaries above the current average annual incomes. Of course, workers must be prepared to perform and the skill standards and levels that meet the needs of those companies.

How can we advance our thinking and offer direction in these regards?

One possibility is to establish a 501(c)(3) organization—a CLT Global think tank—to bring together the powerful critical thinking of business and educational leaders within the Carolinas with an ambition to envision a pathway to our future, publishing and disseminating thought pieces of seminal importance on a regular basis to the community at large.

Another possibility is to produce a representative economic development brochure—handheld, comprehensive but succinct, attractive, super-informative—on behalf of all the economic development entities in the CLT global region that demonstrates our region’s superior potential for foreign investment and economic development—to bring all such entities fundamentally interested in advancing our region’s development to the attention of the nation and the international community and enable every person to become an ambassador of the region for world trade.

2017 Economic Development Situation Analysis of North Carolina

By John Paul Galles

Download PDF: 2017.14.04 NC Global Strategic SWOT Analysis 2017


North Carolina has an abundance of assets, resources, and advantages relative to neighboring Southeastern states.

TJohn with Arms Crossed at K&L Gatesop Business Climate

The State of North Carolina is consistently identified as among the best business climates in the U.S. having ranked as one of Forbes’ top 5 Best States for business for 10 consecutive years. The state’s success is fueled by a competitive tax climate, low business costs, a favorable legal and regulatory environment and the availability of skilled workers.

In 2016, Forbes ranked North Carolina as the #2 Best States for Business. Site Selection magazine ranked North Carolina as the #2 Business Climate in 2015 and Chief Executive Magazine ranked North Carolina #3 as the Best State for Doing Business in 2016.

Tax Climate Among Lowest in the Nation

Based on the tax climate in North Carolina, the Tax Foundation in 2016 ranked North Carolina with a 4 percent Corporate Income Tax Rate as the lowest in the Southeast. Ernst & Young in 2015 identified North Carolina as #3 in the nation for the lowest state and local business tax burden. In 2015, the Tax Foundation and KPMG ranked North Carolina #5 for the lowest effective tax rate for mature corporate HQs.

Among Lowest for Business Costs

In terms of low business costs, the North Carolina business climate was ranked by Forbes as the #2 state with the lowest business costs, 10.3 percent below the national average. Area Development magazine ranked North Carolina as #5 for competitive utility rates. The RSMeans Construction Cost Index identified that construction costs were 18 percent lower in North Carolina metros compared to the U.S. average.

Low Unionization and Top Labor Climate

North Carolina offers low-cost labor in one of the largest and fastest growing markets in the U.S. As a right-to-work state with a perennially low union membership rate (approximately 3 percent during the last 10+ years), North Carolina has the second smallest union workforce in the U.S. in terms of percent of total employment. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics rated NC as the #2 state for lowest unionization rate in the U.S. The resulting benefit is labor costs that are 11 percent below the national average—fourth lowest in the country.

Area Development ranks NC as the #4 state for labor climate. Site Selection rated NC as #1 for workforce development.

Best Regulatory Environment

Recent tort reform and the strengthening and streamlining of business courts in NC have earned NC rankings among the lowest in the nation. The U.S. Chamber Institute for Legal Reform in 2015 ranked NC as the #7 state and the #5 state for the overall treatment of tort and contract litigation. Forbes ranked NC as #7 for the best regulatory environment.

 Attractive to Foreign Direct Investment (FDI)

NC ranks among the highest in the U.S. for job creation from foreign investment projects. More than one out of every five jobs—some 1.2 million—in the state are related to international trade.

About three out of 10 manufacturing jobs in North Carolina are supported directly or indirectly by foreign companies. Foreign direct investment has fueled much of North Carolina’s high-tech job growth, with $2.7 billion and 5,300 jobs generated from FDI in 2015, according to North Carolina Commerce Department, and will top those numbers in 2016. North Carolina ranks sixth in the nation for jobs dependent on direct foreign investment at more than 782,000.Charlotte - Carolinas

European firms have already had great success in the Carolinas—there is more European investment in NC than the total U.S. investment in China, Japan and India combined. Companies from the European Union account for 69 percent of global investment in North Carolina and 65 percent in South Carolina. And as a result of Brexit and the disruption of the European Union, European businesses are increasingly looking for safe locations to expand their businesses.

Outstanding Educational Resources

Economic transformation has evolved from an initial agricultural economy, to an industrial economy, to a post-industrial/mass production/service economy, and now to the knowledge economy.

North Carolina offers outstanding public and private universities and colleges, among them UNC-Chapel Hill (as well as the other satellite locations), Duke University, NC State University, Wake Forest University, East Carolina University, Appalachian State University, Elon University and Davidson College—adding to the talent supply for NC businesses.

The NC community college system ranks No. 11, while neighboring South Carolina comes in at No. 36. They offer specially designed programs in tandem with area businesses providing specialized workforce training, certification of skills, and classes for transitioning workers, and are especially valuable at developing a globally and multi-culturally competent workforce.Charlotte Accessibility Rings

Ease of Access/Superior Location

Located midway between Boston, New York City and Miami, North Carolina is well situated to accommodate successful businesses, reaching more 60 percent of the U.S. population within two hours by air and 24 hours by truck. North Carolina is the only major distribution center midway between the Northeast, Midwest and Florida markets, as well as midway between Canadian and Caribbean markets. Within 650 miles of North Carolina are 164 million U.S. and Canadian consumers and 55 of the country’s top 100 metropolitan areas.

International Airports

North Carolina provides access to the world through non-stop destinations and one-stop connections through Charlotte Douglas International Airport (CLT), Raleigh Durham International Airport (RDU), as well as the Piedmont Triad Airport (GSO), the Wilmington Airport (ILM), the Fayetteville Airport (FAY) and the Asheville Regional Airport (AVL).

 Extensive Highways and Railroads

The highway network in North Carolina is the second largest state-maintained system in the United States. Operating within its borders, North Carolina has access to two Class 1 railroads, Norfolk Southern and CSX, carrying freight across the entire Southeast region of the U.S.

Choice of Ports/Intermodals

North Carolina provides a real advantage to manufacturers in access to five major ports from any point within the state. Besides direct access to the Port of Wilmington and the Morehead Port, manufacturers can easily ship through the ports of Norfolk, Charleston, Savannah and Jacksonville as well. These connections provide shippers with choices of shipping lines and options for shopping when costs are escalating as ships grow bigger and shipping lines consolidate.Charlotte Access to Ports

Both CSX and Norfolk Southern maintain and operate intermodal centers in the state of North Carolina facilitating transport of raw materials and finished goods to and from Southeast ports. Norfolk Southern’s Charlotte intermodal center has a potential capacity of over 500,000 containers and CSX is in the process of constructing a new intermodal center outside of Rocky Mount that will be even larger.

 Competitive Power Supplies

Electricity and natural gas at competitive rates that are much less expensive than in many locations around the world.

Military Installations/Contracting Opportunities

The significant presence of various branches of the armed services offer numerous contracting opportunities for North Carolina businesses. Currently, there are eight military bases in North Carolina. There are two coast guard bases. The United States Army, Navy and Air Force all have at least one base in North Carolina, while the Marine Corps has three.

Superior Quality of Life

North Carolina also provides the highest quality of life for employees and families with easy access to Atlantic Ocean beaches and the blue ridge mountains.

Quality Mountain streamQuality Beach









North Carolina continues to suffer some unique economic and political weaknesses which have impeded its opportunity to compete with neighboring states exhibiting a high-degree of success recruiting businesses from within the United States and from foreign direct investment.

North Carolina has suffered continual and significant declines in manufacturing jobs, which at one point constituted 22 percent of its economy, from which it has
been slow to recover. Having been decimated by the Great Recession and its stress on financial services even before it had recovered from the 2001 recession, it also experiences periodic catastrophic losses from hurricanes and coastline erosion.


In was reported by the NC Justice Center in 2016, that after nearly four years since the formal end of the Great Recession, rural North Carolina is experiencing a very different recovery than the state’s urban areas. Instead of replacing the jobs lost during the recession, rural parts of the state are continuing to experience job loss, while at the same time the state’s metropolitan and micropolitan areas have experienced employment growth.

Metropolitan areas within the state saw a 5.6 percent increase in employment levels since the end of the Great Recession, with the small cities in the state’s micropolitan areas not too far behind at a 4.9 percent increase. At the same time, rural areas saw their total employment drop by 13.5 percent, suggesting that workers left rural communities in droves and moved to the state’s cities to find employment.Rural Lag Job Growth

A major factor behind this shift from rural to urban employment involves the long-term trend away from manufacturing employment and towards service employment. Historically, North Carolina’s rural counties have depended on the manufacturing sector to provide the bulk of its employment opportunities, so as rural manufacturing declined due to global economic restructuring, rural workers were faced with a transition to service industries—generally low-skilled and low-wage, especially Leisure & Hospitality and Retail—and overall shrinking job opportunities.

The conclusion of the Great Recession did not create a positive turnaround for residents in rural North Carolina; instead, it marked an even greater depression for the rural economy. Without the creation of more manufacturing jobs, comprehensive economic restructuring in these rural counties, and skills training for a 21st century economy, residents of rural counties in North Carolina, along with other southeastern states, will likely continue to face the hardships of job loss and economic depression.

In both urban and rural areas, there’s a sense that the jobs of the future will require more education and training than the jobs that traditionally helped provide a comfortable, middle-class lifestyle for North Carolinians.

Thus, North Carolina suffers from a significant urban/rural divide. The urban/rural divide is most evident across the rural areas, manifesting itself in abandoned factories and a depressed mood. With only very little success, these communities are not encouraged by growth elsewhere in the state. Left behind, rural counties are angry with the status quo.

It is not surprising, therefore, that even with state coffers slowly recovering and economic growth occurring in urban centers, state legislatures are reluctant to fund economic development incentives that serve urban interests over rural needs.


After 20 years, Republicans took control of North Carolina’s government in 2013, garnering both the governorship and a super-majority of the general assembly. As a result, significant changes were made to NC state government, including a substantial makeover to the NC Department of Commerce, which took until late 2014 to be approved and into 2015 to be fully operational.

With the upheaval in the state’s economic development arm and political leadership, there has been an increasing incidence of losing economic development opportunities to neighboring competitive states. In recent years, South Carolina, Georgia and Virginia have successfully landed competitive bids including Boeing, BM, Porsche, Mercedes Benz, Volvo, International Harvester, Giti Tire, Michelin, Costar and many others.


Even with repeal of HB2 on March 30, 2017, its impact has challenged recognition of North Carolina as a more modern, progressive southern state. Since March 2016, NC suffered the very public and substantial reaction to HB2 legislation and the primarily negative impression it has brought to NC both nationally and internationally. This was only magnified because of the contentious presidential race and North Carolina’s status as a swing state. North Carolina will continue in the national spotlight with all the dissension over HB2 and the legislative and judicial fallout.

The political responses between the democratic governor and the republican legislature have continued to distract from any coordinated business recruiting, attraction and retention efforts.  The fallout remains and will take several years to overcome

In many cases, directly as a result of HB2, NC was not and will not even being considered when companies are seeking new business locations or operations. It is currently estimated that NC has lost as much as $630 million (Forbes) in business development as a result of the debacle, including business expansions into the state, anticipated relocations to the state, sporting events, entertainment events—the list goes on.


  •  Considering recent NC budget surpluses (a record $552.5M this fiscal year ending June 2017, up from $425M last year), North Carolina is positioned to step forward and compete more aggressively. Business recovery is healthy in urban areas and future opportunities are abundant.
  • Population growth and inbound migration from other states continues. In fact, population growth in NC is expected to be over 71 percent over the next 25 years.
  • Lower NC tax rates offer lower costs for doing business and a greater opportunity to compete with neighboring states with lower state tax rates.
  • New intermodal centers by Norfolk Southern in Charlotte and CSX in Rocky Mount offer greater logistical support and distribution opportunities and other locations.
  • North Carolina Ports continue their post-Panamax preparation, ordering two New Panamax ship-to-shore cranes as part its plan to invest $120 million over the next few years to accommodate a majority of larger ships transiting the Panama Canal, and a 101,000-square-foot cold storage warehouse.
  • Telecommunications remains a state priority with Charlotte and the Triangle having been designated Google Fiber cities and NC continuing its high-speed broadband initiative into rural areas. An FCC Commission report shows that 93 percent of North Carolinians have broadband access compared to an average of 90 percent of people nationwide—but rural areas lag behind the state’s cities.
  • North Carolina continues to be a participant in international trade activity. International trade, including exports and imports, supports 1,232,100 NC jobs—more than 1 in 5. Trade-related jobs grew 3.4 times faster than total employment from 2004 to 2014 and are at large and small companies, on farms, in factories, and at the headquarters of NC globally engaged firms. NC exported $31.1 billion in goods and $18.8 billion in services in 2014, including pharmaceuticals & medicines, aerospace products & parts, semiconductors & components and travel services. Of NC’s 10,582 exporters, 87 percent are small- and medium-sized companies with less than 500 workers.

It is valuable to understand the potential of international commerce activities.

  • Over 80 percent of purchasing power is outside the borders of the United.
  • More than 92 percent of business growth occurs outside the borders of the United States.
  • Over 95 percent of consumers are outside the borders of the United States.
  • This data affects U.S. commerce as well as U.S. agriculture.
  • All of NC’s major universities offer increasing opportunities for research partnering with private industry.
  • The new administration has asserted a focus on improving business conditions, offering the promise of more growth and development, and the creation of jobs alongside that growth, including an expansion of funding for infrastructure across the country.


  •  Poverty in NC has either climbed or stayed steady from 2007 to 2014 with only modest improvements in 2015 and 2016 despite economic recovery, and in the highest quintile in the nation, with the highest poverty rates all in rural counties. To the extent NC leaders enact policies that compound these economic and labor market disparities, it will exacerbate the urban/rural divide.
  • NC’s political bottlenecks to economic development continue as the governor and state legislature continue their standoff, awaiting judicial decisions.
  • As a result of NC’s economic development impasse, competition from other states continues to be a significant threat as South Carolina, Georgia and Virginia provide more attractive economic incentives.
  • To the extent of the HB2 continuing fallout, the ability of NC to attract new businesses, expansions and foreign direct investment may continue to be hampered, as well as the state’s ability to attract business talent.
  • NC budgets will inevitably be periodically reduced by unexpected spending on natural disaster relief.
  • Expectation of impending recession, especially after such a long, sustained recovery since 2010, looms.
  • The new administration may disrupt international trade opportunities which may slow the growth of business development.


The entire Southeast region continues to show economic strength, as well as nation-leading population growth, and these two factors are making the region ripe for economic development and investment. North Carolina has one of the fastest growing populations (9th in the nation, now over 10M) as well as the fastest growing economy in the country.

It is clear from our strengths that North Carolina has huge potential for growth and economic development and is, in fact, the best place for business and investment in the Southeast. It is equally clear that the state’s economic development activities have become disrupted by politics and its economic incentives less competitive than those of other states.

It is imperative that North Carolina seek and take advantage of economic development opportunities to remain globally competitive and essential that community leaders become knowledgeable ambassadors of economic development, stepping into the void and reaching out to connect interested parties with valuable opportunities.

Community businesses and business leaders who choose to actively participate should experience increased opportunities for business development themselves and perhaps be able to bridge the urban/rural divide even more successfully than state authorities.

The time is ripe to create a network of knowledgeable leaders interested in attracting business and investment to North Carolina, armed with a heightened awareness and knowledge of the state’s economic development opportunities and the tools to communicate to clients and prospects the opportunities in North Carolina.

It is time to enlist key leaders, engage their participation and focus their efforts to attract business entities seeking the best state for location or investment in the nation.

If we intend to participate meaningfully in a knowledge-based economy, it will be important for NC to attract advanced manufacturing as well

as use science, technology, engineering and math to transform industrial production to Industry 4.0.Advanced Manufacturing

Types of Industry 4.0 include:

  • Additive manufacturing
  • Augmented reality
  • Big data and analytics
  • Autonomous robots
  • Simulation
  • Horizontal and vertical systems integration
  • Cybersecurity
  • The industrial Internet of Things

There are opportunities to enlist everyone interested in becoming ambassadors for business growth and development. The NC story is a strong one. There are amazing opportunities for growth and recovery into every region and every community.


World Net Migraion 2010-2015Click here for Full screen version / Youtube video

Immigration: the new Godwin’s Law

This map shows the estimated net immigration (inflows minus outflows) by origin and destination country between 2010 and 2015.

Blue circles = positive net migration (more inflows). Red circles = negative net migration (more outflows). Each yellow dot represents 1,000 people.

Hover over a circle to see that country’s total net migration between 2010 and 2015. Click a circle (or tap the circle twice on mobile) to view only the migration flows in and out of that country.

Country-to-country net migration (2010-2015)

The data for this map comes from the U.N. Population Division, more information on how it was calculated at the bottom of the post.

Immigration: the new Godwin’s Law

If you’re not familiar with Godwin’s law, it is an old internet adage that states, “As an online discussion grows longer, the probability of a comparison involving Nazism or Hitler approaches 1.

Lately, I’ve found a similar principle applies to immigration. No matter what topic is being discussed online, if the conversation goes on for long enough, someone will inevitably tie it back to immigration.

Immigration has always been an important and frequently debated issue. And for many current events, the connection with immigration is clear, for example: terrorism / ISIS, the Brexit, Donald Trump and this year’s presidential race, the refugee crisis. But at some point in the last year or two, I started noticing immigration being mentioned in connection with all sorts of topics I would never have expected.

To see what I mean, here are some of the topics I’ve posted about where immigration came up in a discussion, either in the comment section of the post or on social media:

Why is immigration suddenly the cause/result/solution of everything? (Not meant rhetorically. If you have a good answer, I’d love to know.)

Who is migrating from where to where?

For a topic that comes up as often as immigration, I’ve found the debate to be really lacking in factual information. Hopefully, this map is helpful is clearing up at least the simple, basic statistics: how many migrants are there? Where are they coming from? And where are they going?

Please keep in mind, these numbers are only estimates. You can find the full details of how they were calculated at the bottom of the post.

That said, here are a few of the pieces I found interesting.


Between 2010 and 2015, the net migration from Syria to Sweden was more than Syria’s net migration to the rest of Europe and the Americas combined.

Many Middle Eastern countries have been criticized for allegedly accepting few Syrian refugees. In Qatar and the UAE, the net migration appears to actually be negative. Though of the Middle Eastern countries that are accepting Syrian refugees, the numbers they are dealing with are orders of magnitude higher than in the West.

The United Kingdom / Brexit

 In the Brexit debate, the loudest arguments in favor of leaving the EU have been about immigration. What strikes me as interesting is how small a portion of the UK’s net immigration is actually coming from Europe.

Australia, another country where immigration has become a highly charged political issue, jumps out as an interesting case.

By these estimates, Australia’s net immigration is negative with every country in the world, except for a small positive immigration balance with Sudan. Australia is the only country in the world to have significant positive net immigration with the US.

United States

Last month, I posted a map visualizing 200 years of US immigration (inflows only). I would have liked to do the same with US emigration, which may be the more interesting direction since it is not nearly as well known. Unfortunately, the US does not keep good emigration records and the best data I’ve managed to find goes back only a few decades. So, I don’t foresee being able to make a historical US emigration map.

Still, I think it’s pretty interesting to see what US net immigration flows look like in the present.

As mentioned above, according to these estimates, the US has significant positive net immigration with only one other country, Australia. The country with which the US has the largest negative net immigration is, perhaps unsurprisingly, Mexico. Though the amount by which Mexico leads is down substantially compared to a decade ago. Illegal immigration, in particular, has fallen off sharply, as demonstrated by this time series of border apprehensions from Pew Research.

When US immigration is viewed by region, the area that really stands out is Asia, which now accounts for just as much US immigration as North + South America (Mexico included).

Immigration between the US and Mexico is particularly complex since it involves both legal and illegal immigration as well as temporary laborers, deportations, and a large number of people living in immigration detention facilities. For that reason, America’s true net migration with Mexico is uncertain, and may actually be much lower than what’s shown here. If you believe Pew’s estimates, net migration with Mexico is now actually negative: more people are migrating from the US to Mexico than vice versa.

Immigration perceptions

Wherever you stand politically on immigration, you have to admit, it’s pretty strange how rarely basic stats like these enter the debate. For all the discussion in the US about border fences and immigration limits, the simple question of “how many immigrants are there?” hardly ever even comes up.

Public opinion about immigration was likely a deciding factor in Britain’s decision to exit the EU. And it may very well determine who becomes the next US president. Yet the majority of Brits and the majority of Americans misestimate the size of their country’s immigrant population by a multiple.

The Truth About Immigration

by Steve Rattner

Perhaps the most emotional issue of this year’s Presidential campaign has been the question of illegal immigration, particularly from Mexico. Like much of the rhetoric during the campaign, the question of illegal immigration has been largely devoid of facts.

Contrary to popular impression, the number of illegal immigrants in the United States peaked in 2007 and has been drifting down since then. The number of Mexicans who are in the United States illegally similarly peaked nearly a decade ago and has fallen more sharply than the number of non-Mexican illegal residents.The reasons for that are multiple: The recession that accompanied the financial crisis sharply reduced the number of construction jobs available, a particularly large source of jobs for immigrants. Notwithstanding Donald Trump’s rhetoric, stricter enforcement of immigration laws along the border between the United States and Mexico and increased deportation of illegal residents also played a role. Finally, a drop in the size of the young population in Mexico also contributed – the share of Mexicans between 15 to 29 dropped from 29.4% in 1990 to 24.9% in 2014.

Fewer Mexicans Crossing the BorderWhile there are no reliable statistics for how many illegal immigrants cross the border with Mexico, experts use the number of apprehensions as a proxy. By that measure, the number of Mexicans apprehended at the border has dropped from more than 1.5 million in 2000 to just about 229,000 in 2014. Meanwhile, the number of non-Mexicans (mostly from Central American countries including El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras) rose sharply and exceeded the number of Mexicans apprehended in 2014. A big part of this increase in non-Mexican immigration is accounted for by unaccompanied children.

Meanwhile, under President Obama, the number of deportations has risen sharply, to a record of more than 435,000 in 2013. Between 2009 and 2014, more than 2.4 million illegal residents were deported. More than 40% of those deported are convicted criminals, a group that Donald Trump says he wants to target.Deportations Near Record Highs

6 Reasons Move to Charlotte


Change is Hard – Immigration and Trump’s First 100 Days in Office

Jennifer Cory – Garfinkel Immigration Group


The more things change—well, the more things change—but the end results may be the same, at least where U.S. immigration policy and the Trump Administration are concerned. In President Trump’s first 100 days in office, the Oval Office has seen a flurry of activity, including leaked Executive Orders, Executive Actions, government announcements and litigation.

President Trump’s desire to make good on his 10-point immigration platform campaign promise is apparent: Build the wall; End “catch and release”; Create a deportation task force and focus on criminals in the country illegally; Defund sanctuary cities; Cancel President Obama’s executive actions; Extreme vetting; Block immigration from some nations; Force other countries to take back those whom the U.S. wants to deport; Get biometric visa tracking system fully in place; Strengthen E-Verify, block jobs for the undocumented; and Limit legal immigration, lower it to “historic norms,” and set new caps.

Donald_Trump_immigrationOn Friday, January 27, 2017, President Trump took his first step in securing U.S. borders by signing an Executive Order titled “Protecting the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry into the United States,” relating to visa issuance, screening procedures, and refugees. It immediately suspended immigrant and nonimmigrant entry of nationals from certain designated countries for 90 days. Designated countries included Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen. Although the Order went into immediate effect, it failed to define what it means to be “from” a designated country and whether green card holders were also subject. This caused mass confusion on the part of U.S. immigration inspectors, airline personnel as well as foreign national travelers, many of whom were already in transit to the U.S. What followed was a slew of government announcements attempting to provide additional guidance to address the Order’s shortcomings. Inevitably, federal litigation ensued with Washington and Minnesota challenging its authority, and the travel ban was suspended.

Undeterred, President Trump signed another Executive Order on March 6, 2017, replacing the one signed in January. The new version banned citizens of six (6) majority-Muslim nations including Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen and was more narrow in scope than the initial Order, as it did not extend to current visa holders, lawful permanent residents (“green card” holders), or Iraqi nationals.

Implementation of this revised Order was quickly halted by federal courts. Hawaii and Maryland district courts issued two temporary restraining orders opining that the Muslim and refugee bans will be found unconstitutional based on discriminatory intent that violates the First Amendment. The suspension of the revised Order has now been in place since March 16, 2017.

But the Trump Administration has not given up. A March 17, 2017 Department of State cable directs U.S. embassies to identify populations warranting increased scrutiny and toughen screening for visa applicants from those groups. This extreme vetting will tax existing consular resources and likely result in increased government processing times and reduced visa appointment availability. In addition, U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Services (USCIS), the Department of Homeland Security agency administering benefits, suspended its premium processing service for the H-1B visa category, a category upon which many U.S. employers rely to obtain and keep the best global talent.

Premium processing allows these U.S. employers to pay an additional filing fee of $1,225 for expedited processing of certain employment-based petitions. When faced with regular processing times of 6 to 8 or more months, premium processing is often the only way to obtain a timely approval for those needing permission to work and travel. The suspension will frustrate U.S. employers’ ability to attract top talent, with foreign workers (many U.S. degree holders) opting to pursue jobs in more immigrant-friendly countries.

On the horizon, U.S. employers should expect increased numbers of worksite visits and audits by U.S. Immigration & Customs Enforcement, the Department of Labor and the U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Services Fraud Detection and National Security program. Those employers with appropriate, up-to-date compliance policies and procedures will be in the best position to avoid potentially stiff civil and potential criminal penalties and a tarnished public image for employing unauthorized workers.

Change isn’t easy. The Trump Administration has discovered that implementing the changes it desires is no simple task. However, the Administration appears determined to achieve its agenda one way or another and is willing to change its approach to accomplish what it has set out to do. In the meantime, stay tuned. No doubt, there is more change to come.

The information contained in this article is not, nor is it intended to be, legal advice, nor does it create an attorney-client relationship. You should consult an attorney for advice regarding your individual situation.

Content contributed by Jennifer L. Cory, J.D., a N.C. Board Certified Immigration Law Specialist and partner in the Garfinkel Immigration Law Firm specializing in employment-based immigrant and nonimmigrant petitions. For more information, contact her at 704-626-6396 or or visit


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