North Carolina Offers a High Quality of Life!
North Carolina is a beautiful place that constantly attracts growing businesses. The truth is, businesses are moving to North Carolina because of the fact that this state offers a high quality of life for their employees. Having a high quality of life is very important for attracting and keeping skilled workers in the workforce. We’ll learn about how North Carolina had to adapt to a shifting economy, the key industries that are thriving in NC, and three businesses that are growing in the state.
North Carolina – A Shifting Economy
Over the past Fifteen Years, North Carolina has slowly transitioned from a traditional economy based on furniture, tobacco, and textiles – to a global economy driven by the Tech Industry, Knowledge Based Enterprises, and Advanced Manufacturing. A clear example of is the agricultural industry shifting from focusing on traditional tobacco crops to new crops that fuel industries like wine-making and biotech.
These industries, as well as valuable input from NC Universities, Training Programs, and Community Colleges, are providing a valuable and continue stream of workers that are equipped with the skills that are in demand globally. Another interesting fact is about NC Workers: North Carolina workers are not only highly trained, but they are also more productive. A recent study actually showed that North Carolina workers are 36 percent more productive than the average U.S. worker. One reason for this is because of the North Carolina really helps people to enjoy their lives here and flourish in this atmosphere. And when people are happy and more productive, the companies they work for gain a competitive advantage. The quality of life is the reason that, over and over, businesses are moving to North Carolina.
North Carolina has obviously rebounded from “The Great Recession” and shown resilience by adapting and growing. Also, new industries have sprung up as the older textile industries have either gone by the way-side had to adapted. So, what are the industries that are currently thriving in NC? Let’s take a look:
Thriving Industries in NC
- Advanced Manufacturing
- Aerospace and Aviation
- Financial Services
- Information Technology
New Belgium is Opening a Plant in Asheville
Another popular company that’s moving to North Carolina is New Belgium Brewing. At an April 5 2013 press conference at the Chamber of Commerce, Governer Bev Perdue and New Belgium CEO Kim Jordan said New Belgium Brewing will business both a brewery and distribution center in Asheville NC. They’ll be building the plant at the former Western Carolina Livestock Market site on Craven Street. Over a seven year period, the brewery will invest more than $175 million into the area and create more than 150 jobs.
“We picked you: We picked Asheville,” Jordan told the officials, exuberant beer lovers, and media reps who were all gathered between a large tend during the conference. Jordan explained that the main reason New Belgium decided to move here was Asheville’s proximity to East Coast markets, community commitment to sustainability, and the water quality in Asheville.
New Belgium is actually the third-largest U.S. craft brewery. They’ve made plans to break ground in early 2014, and they will have the plant up and running with production starting in 2015. They won’t be hiring in until late 2014 but the average salary of these employees will exceed $50,000 annually. New Belgium is getting $1 million grant from the state and more than $12 million in tax incentives from Asheville. Buncombe County actually helped lure New Belgium to the area because they knew that the company would be creating 130 jobs and investing $115 million over five years. New Belgium explains that also, during the construction phase of the plant, the use of local suppliers and vendors will support many additional jobs. The company is 41 percent employee-owned.
“I’ve been hearing about and watching that space across the river for six months,” exclaims Ben Mixson who is co-owner of a company called the White Duck Taco Shop which is on nearby Roberts Street. “New Belgium seems like a great company, and we will love having them as neighbors,” he said, smiling. “I’m looking forward to drinking their beer fresh.”
The local beer community completely ecstatic when they heard the announcement. Tim Shaller who is President of “The Brewers Alliance” said that they wholehearted welcome New Belgium to the area. “Just by moving to North Carolina, they’ll be a great economic asset and should bring in an influx of beer tourists. Our responsibility as brewers now is to make great beer and continue to educate people about it.”
Asheville Brewing Co. President Mike Rangel agreed with these comments, saying, “We are thrilled to have another incredible craft brewery move into the neighborhood. New Belgium has handled their site selection very well and … kept us informed during the process.” In January, Sierra Nevada, the nation’s No. 2 craft brewer, chose a Mills River site for its second brewery.
Jordan, meanwhile, stressed her company’s commitment to working with local brewers in “a spirit of collaboration” and “sharing our groovy toys” (a reference to New Belgium’s research-and-development equipment). In addition, she noted, the company will work with the city and the county on things like roads, bike lanes, greenways and water management consistent with the Wilma Dykeman RiverWay Plan.
Schaller, who owns Wedge Brewing Co., notes: “I opened my business in the River Arts District because it’s funky and affordable for artists. I hope we can preserve this area and keep growing it as an arts district.”
Dell Moves Here in 2005
Major companies like Texas based Dell Inc built a plant here back in 2005 because North Carolina “offers the whole package” of various financial incentives, an eager political and business community, and a centralized location.
“They had all the factors come together,” said Dell Computers Executive Kip Thompson in a meeting where he explained his decision to build Dell’s largest plant in North Carolina.
Dell opened the plant here back in 2005 and employed 700 people by the end of that year with plans to hire up to 1,500 people by 2010. The plant that they built was one of Dell’s largest in the United States with an interior size of more than 750,000 square feet.
One of the reasons why Dell moved here was that they were aggressively courted by local and state officials who wanted to bring high quality high-tech jobs to the area to combat the downtown in textile and furniture manufacturing.
Dell received a $318 incentive package – which was the largest incentive package in NC State history – as part of the deal for them to open a plant in North Carolina. Kip Thomspon explained that the large financial incentives were a huge reason why Dell considered moving to North Carolina.
Piedmont Candy Receives A 14.4 Million Investment
Piedmont Candy Company is a modern day example of a NC Based company that’s getting a cash infusion to grow to the next level. Piedmont Candy is the makers of the famous Red Bird peppermint puffs candy. They’ve just entered a partnership with Charlotte investment firm Plexus Capital who is investing the $14.4 million to help Piedmont Candy grow.
Chris Reid, president of the Lexington-based candy company, said the investment will help grow the business by adding more employees and to invest in new equipment.
“In this day and time, if you want to be successful, you can’t do it alone,” Reid said. “My family has been running the business for the past 25 years, and we have taken it about as far as we can. Plexus has the horsepower in the finance arena to take the company to the next level.”
In the Investment agreement, Plexus Capital invested $14.4 million, and the Piedmont Candy’s management team reinvested 100 percent of sale proceeds into the deal to buy out inactive shareholders and provide capital for continuing company growth.
Plexus brings with it some pretty big names in the world of finance. Kel Landis, co-founder of Plexus Capital and former CEO of RBC Bank, is listed in the securities filing as one of the directors of Piedmont Candy Holdings. Douglas Haensel, managing partner of Haensel Capital Partners and past chief financial officer of Burt’s Bees, is also listed as a director.
Reid said that the deal with Plexus will not affect the management or ownership of this 123-year-old business.
“We still own the company, and we will still be running it,” Reid said. “The company is still strong. We have made more candy this year than we ever have.”