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Labor and Location Draw
Companies to North Carolina

North Carolina remains a corporate favorite despite recent economic woes



sluggish economy and a looming state budget shortfall notwithstanding, North Carolina still boasts plenty of qualities that put the state on the short list of site seekers. Among them are proximity to markets, solid infrastructure (including a strong Interstate highway system and access to ports) and a large community college system well situated to train and re-train workers.
        Companies seeking available labor have increasingly found fertile ground in the state, thanks to record job losses. Unemployment rose to 6.9 percent in April, the highest since February 1984 when the rate was 7 percent. The furniture, electronics and textile industries are among the hardest hit.
        All of these economic woes follow a banner year in economic development. North Carolina was well represented in Site Selection's Top Ten awards for 2001. The North Carolina Dept. of Commerce and Mooresville-South Iredell Chamber of Commerce were among the top economic development groups, and the location of BSH Home Appliances to New Bern was a Top Ten deal.
        Pharmaceutical firms are among those that have been looking in the Raleigh/ Durham area over the past year for possible sites, says Chris Skibinski, director of industrial services in The Staubach Company's Charlotte office.
NASCAR Technical Institute, Mooresville
The NASCAR Technical Institute in Mooresville opened in May ready to receive a full enrollment of 2000 auto mechanic students. The facility created 150 jobs.

        "The market is starting to pick up on the industrial side," adds Skibinski, who notes that manufacturers are aware of North Carolina's available labor. "Northeastern manufacturers continue to look to the Southeast for a better operating climate."
        Skibinski says in the short term, North Carolina may attract companies looking to consolidate operations and strategically place facilities. He also believes the trucking industry is due for a rebound, which could attract suppliers.
        Department of Commerce representatives spent two weeks in Europe in April on a recruiting mission, which included stops in the U.K., Germany, Finland, Sweden and The Netherlands.
        The mission called on firms currently considering expansions in the U.S., and also held forums on the state's biotech and information technology industries.
        "It's critically important we consistently present North Carolina in established markets like England and Germany and new markets such as Finland," said Commerce Secretary Jim Fain.


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