The North Carolina Department of Commerce, the state’s lead agency for workforce and economic development, marked another successful year in 2018.
Governor Roy Cooper announced 19,729 new jobs in North Carolina last year, representing 157 business recruitment, expansion or rural development projects that engaged Commerce or its team at the Economic Development Partnership of N.C. in 2018. These projects represent $3.54 billion of new investment in the state. A majority of the projects located or expanded in the state’s more rural or economically distressed areas, with 69 percent choosing either a Tier 1 or Tier 2 county, as delineated by North Carolina’s economic development tier system.
Top projects for the year, as ranked by job creation totals, include two projects with Amazon totaling 3,000 jobs, AvidXchange’s expansion in Mecklenburg County that will create 1,229 jobs; and Publix’s decision to bring 1,000 new jobs to Guilford County. POLYWOOD will bring 384 new jobs to Person County, while LGM Enterprises and its Jetstream unit will build a new electrostatic paint and coating facility at the Global TransPark in Lenoir County, adding 145 jobs there. Five companies selected Cherokee County for projects totaling 106 new jobs and three companies chose to site projects in Halifax County for a total of 171 jobs in that region.
Additional jobs were created in conjunction with rural development grants managed by Commerce’s Rural Economic Development Division. A total of 2,581 new jobs were supported by $43,030,175 in grants awarded by the state’s Rural Infrastructure Authority. These public grants in turn attracted $1.15 billion in private-sector investment capital in infrastructure capacity for rural North Carolina.
Commerce’s Workforce Solutions Division led several initiatives during the year to help roll out Governor Cooper’s NC Job Ready program, announced in May. These include the Finish Line Grants program that helps community college students overcome unexpected financial emergencies that threaten the students’ ability to complete their studies. The NCWorks Local Innovation Fund, with $2 million in available funds, also launched in 2018 offering financing to help local communities pilot innovative programs addressing workforce development issues in their regions.
N.C. Commerce also achieved important advancements in 2018 to the agency’s technical capacity to deliver services more efficiently while delivering a better experience for its customers.
The Department’s Employment Security Division implemented an overhaul of its information technology platform with the successful launch of SCUBI, the Southeastern Consortium Unemployment Benefits Integration. The system, born from a partnership with South Carolina and Georgia, has streamlined the computer systems that support the state’s unemployment insurance program. Since SCUBI’s launch on September 28, the system has managed 52,779 claims for benefits from unemployed workers, and helped the Department administer the payment of nearly $1 million in Disaster Unemployment Assistance (DUA) to 1,544 claimants impacted by Hurricane Florence.
Commerce also launched an upgraded edition of its website, further enhancing the agency’s capacity to deliver information and services. The website redesign was based on research of the agency’s key audiences, such as national site selection consultants, local community leaders, economic developers and the general public.
In the coming year, in addition to its traditional focus on companies seeking to locate or expand operations in the state, Commerce will be working to optimize its programs to help local communities make the necessary preparations to attract business, such as building and site upgrade grants, economic development planning services, and support for extending utility and other infrastructure assets.
More information about programs and services available from the North Carolina Department of Commerce is available at the agency’s website. Visit nccommerce.com from your desktop computer or mobile device.