GREENSBORO — Top business leaders, high-ranking public officials and economic development leaders gathered last week at the annual Wyndham Champions Breakfast for an update on the growing momentum and regionalism in the Carolina Core, one year after the initiative’s launch at the same event last year.
This long-term strategy, as conceived by regional leaders, seeks to offer a cohesive platform and vision for central North Carolina highlighting the cumulative impact of the region’s globally competitive economic development assets to attract new jobs, business expansions and relocations.
The Carolina Core is a corridor bound by Winston-Salem, Greensboro, High Point and Fayetteville containing four mega-sites of around 7,500 acres of certified land for business development. Officials hope to attract advanced manufacturers looking for room to grow, in addition to industrial sites, urban research parks and mixed-use developments.
Carolina Core leaders tout North Carolina’s combination of its skilled workforce and the innovation nurtured by the many colleges and universities in the region, and hope to leverage the state’s consistent ranking as one of the best places to do business in the nation.
“One year into our long-term, 20-year Carolina Core strategy we are seeing momentum, collaboration and regionalism like never before,” said Stan Kelly, President and CEO of the Piedmont Triad Partnership. “While we still have a long way to go to reach our goal of adding 50,000 new jobs, the Carolina Core is headed in the right direction. In the coming months and years, we will continue to double down on our strategies around the mega-sites, aerospace and our talent alignment initiative.”
Kelly reported that since last year, the Carolina Core has experienced growing momentum announcing more than 10,000 new jobs, launching an aggressive marketing campaign, and directly engaging site selection consultants on outbound Carolina Core visits to major markets and hosting consultants on inbound visits to the region.
Kelly also stated that several recent announcements are evidence that the aerospace strategy in the Carolina Core is soaring. An annual study released last week by global accounting firm PricewaterhouseCoopers named North Carolina the seventh most attractive state in the nation for aerospace manufacturing. This is affirmed by last week’s Forsyth Tech groundbreaking on the $16 million, 53,000 square-foot aviation lab at Smith Reynolds Airport. Also last week, Honda Aircraft Company broke ground on a $15.5 million expansion of the jet division adding an extra 82,000 square feet to their global headquarters at Piedmont Triad International Airport.
In addition to an update on the Carolina Core, last week’s event featured a presentation by Inmar Chairman and CEO David Mounts on talent and entrepreneurship in the region.
“The mindset and collaboration of this region has been the foundation of Inmar’s success,” said Mounts.
Additionally, BB&T Chairman and CEO Kelly King and High Point University President Nido Qubein took the stage to discuss regional economic development.
“The BB&T and SunTrust merger will be a huge win for the region and we intend to continue to grow here,” said King. “I am so impressed with the progress that this region has made under the leadership of folks like Bobby Long and Stan Kelly. I am proud to have played a part in it and know that more success is to come.”
The merger, announced in February, will create the sixth-largest U.S. bank based on assets and deposits, and will become a new financial institution called Truist.
A new corporate headquarters will be established in Charlotte, NC, including an Innovation and Technology Center to drive digital transformation. In the current home markets for both companies, the combined company will maintain the Community Banking Center in Winston-Salem and the Wholesale Banking Center in Atlanta. This continued strong presence is also supported by the combined company’s commitment to increase the respective banks’ current levels of community investment.
Since launching the Carolina Core regional initiative, officials note that the economic momentum is building with more than 10,000 jobs announced. Stakeholders see this as steady progress toward the goal of attracting more than 50,000 jobs to the Carolina Core over the next 20 years.