The Land of the Pines could be classified as a crossroads of many elements. In its natural features, it boasts a renowned coast to the east, and the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains to the west. It is one of the northern southern states, and has quick access to Richmond, VA or Washington, D.C. North Carolina’s population is increasing rapidly, as people are increasingly drawn to the state for its quality of life, public amenities, natural beauty, and educational and economic opportunities. Charlotte is one of the financial capitols of the country, Fayetteville is a major military outpost, and the Raleigh-Durham area has the highest concentration of advanced degrees in the country and is an industry leader in biotech and pharmaceuticals. In recent decades, North Carolina has prioritized attracting high-growth industries to its business-friendly environment, as well as to catalyze new start-ups into successful firms. The state’s motto is “first in flight”, and beyond the Wright Brothers accomplishment, it has become indicative on the state’s research and manufacturing prowess.



  • Population (2014): 9,943,964 (9th in United States)
  • Year Founded:1789
  • Capitol: Raleigh, NC2000px-Flag_of_North_Carolina.svg
  • Major Metro Areas: 
    • Charlotte
    • Raleigh
    • Greensboro
    • Winston-Salem
    • Durham
    • Asheville
    • Fayetteville
    • Hickory
    • Wilmington
    • Jacksonville
  • Governor: Pat McCrory (Republican)
  • GDP: $483.1 billion in 2014 (9th in US) 
  • Top Industries: Advanced Manufacturing, Aerospace and Aviation, Defense, Automotive, Biotechnology and Pharmaeuticals, Green Energy, Financial Services, Software and Information Technology

 Economic Overview

  • 2000px-Seal_of_North_Carolina_1971-1984.svgRanks first in the southeast and ninth nationally for total automobile manufacturing
  • Ranks 10th among all US states for overall automotive sector employment 
  • 34 of the top 150 North American OEM parts suppliers have facilities in North Carolina
  • Over 160 automobile parts manufacturer’s hire 17,000 skilled workers and 26,000 people employed in engineering-related jobs. 
  • Hub of activity related to the auto industry
  • Nation’s largest state-maintained highway system
  • Two major railroads: CSX and Norfolk Southern
  • Over 40,000 Population: Asheville and Hickory
  • Programs & Development Centers:
    • NC State’s Advanced Transportation Energy Center
      • Raleigh, NC
      • Since its creation in May 2008,  ATEC has been a research center emphasizing tech development for plug-in hybrid vehicles and plug-in electric vehicles. ATEC was originally funded by DukeEnergy and Progress Energy, and became a part of the FREEDM Systems Center at NC State one year after its founding.
    • AeroDyn Wind Tunnel
      • Mooresville, NC
      • The AeroDyn Wind Tunnel is a research site for race cars, to improve their aerodynamic engineering. The facility was primarily designed for NASCAR vehicles, but can accommodate several other race-capable automobiles. As described on their website, “the AeroDyn Wind Tunnel is a full-scale, closed-jet, contoured wall design with an open return.  AeroDyn hosts a one-of-a-kind data acquisition system with 50 vehicle pressures available and a grid of 228 static pressures in the floor beneath the car.”
    • NASCAR Technical Institute
      • Mooresville, NC
      • This is the nation’s only NASCAR-endorsed training program for race technicians. It is located in the same city as NASCAR; students get intensive hands-on experience with the premier auto racing organization. The Mooresville campus was built in 2002, and houses 150K sq.ft of facilities, including 39 classrooms and 16 labs. Students get nine weeks of direct training with NASCAR race vehicles in addition to their coursework.
    • Toyota Racing Development
      • Salisbury, NC
      • Toyota Racing Development (TRD) was established in 1979 to provide testing facilities for the Japanese auto company. As a racing performance engineering company, it engineers racing technology at its Rowan County facilities.
    • Windshear, Inc. Wind Tunnel
      • Concord, NC
      • Windshear was established seven years ago and offers a breakthrough 180-mph wind tunnel for performance testing. They have a staff of 12 that operate the system, and unlike other facilities, it is open to auto manufactures and any racing team, not just Formula One.
    • FREEDM Systems Center
      • Raleigh, NC
      • The FREEDM Systems Center is a 20,000 research facility located at NC State with a focus on developing Smart Grid technology.  Its facilities include motor drive laboratories, a Real Time Digital Simulator Lab, and the 1MW FREEDM System Demonstrator Hub. It is affiliated with four other major national universities, including Arizona State, Florida State University, Florida A&M University, and the Missouri University of Science and Technology.
    • North Carolina Center for Automotive Research
      • Garysburg, NC
      • This 620-acre research center is a non-profit, and is sponsored by a combination of state and university funds. It houses a two mile bi-directional race course, a two acre vehicle dynamics area, three miles of dirt trails for trucks, seven acres of dirt facilities, and ATV and dirt bike trails. Their list of services includes chassis alignment, “no touch” tire changing, road force dynamic balancing, and well-equipped workshops.
    • NC Motorsports and Automotive Research Center
      • Charlotte, NC
      • This center is part of UNC Charlotte, and provides a course of study for students interested in Motorsports engineering. Their website states that 10% of all NASCAR engineers are UNC Charlotte graduates. Beyond a bachelor’s degree, they also order Master’s and PhD programs. They offer an extensive list of equipment, and a staff of 25 faculty. The program has 95 undergraduates and 22 graduate students.
    • Honda R&D Americas
      • Haw River, NC
      • This research and development subsidiary of Honda began in Los Angeles in 1975. Eighteen years later it opened its first facilities in Swepsonville, North Carolina, and in 2003, opened a power equipment R&D center in Haw River. Here they work on vehicle engineering, fabrication, testing, and mass production preparation. Honda R&D holds 1,000 global patents and has 14 locations around North America.
    • Lotus Engineering Research and Development
      • Raleigh, NC
      • Lotus Engineering R&D is a British firm that launched facilities under North Carolina’s Advanced Vehicle Research Center in 2006. It received a $1.5 M JDIG grant from the state. The center that they built at that time received some $7.5 in state funding and support from both the Golden Leaf Foundation and Northampton County.
NC Industry Shares, 2010

NC Industry Shares, 2010



  • 1899 – Corbitt Buggy Company 
    • changed to Corbitt Motor Truck Co. in 1915 and produced until 1952
    • first car manufacturing company
  • 1949 – NASCAR held its first Strictly Stock race on the Charlotte Speedway in North Carolina
  • 2000 to Present – Sub-assembly and assembly auto industries take off in the Appalachian region of the state



  • North Carolina has used policy to create an extremely business friendly environment through various incentive programs and other policy initiatives. These policy initiatives have been essential in bringing the automobile industry to North Carolina.  

  • Right-to-Work State
  • Article 3J Tax Credits- provides tax breaks to business for creating employment or investing in North Carolina business or real estate property. 
  • Technology Development 3F Tax Credits- Provides credit for companies’s research expenses to encourage technological advances
  • Discretionary Incentive Programs are financial incentive programs that business can individually apply for:
    • Job Development Investment Fund
    • One North Carolina Fund
    • Small Business Technology Funding
    • Job Maintenance and Capital Development Fund
  • State Insurance Financial Incentives
  • Four Foreign Trade Zones: 
    • Greater Charlotte Area Zone
    • Research Triangle Zone
    • Southeastern North Carolina
    • Piedmont Triad Partnership
  • Alternative Fuel and Vehicle Incentive Program

Click here to find out more about the incentives that North Carolina has to offer firms looking to invest.