The GroWNC economy is evolving. For generations, the mountains, rivers, and farms of Western North Carolina provided jobs for its people. Over time the evolving economy developed an extremely industrious and self-sufficient workforce. Today, the region has a strong employment base of over 220,000 people. Relative to the rest of North Carolina and the U.S., the region has had a lower unemployment rate, generally staying one-tenth of a point below the U.S. average and one to two points below that of the State.
Critical to continued economic prosperity in the region is a diverse set of industries that provide living wage jobs. From arts-based entrepreneurs to agribusiness operations and specialty manufacturers, the region’s economic strength lies in the ability to attract and support business of any size and sector. Craft brewers, clean energy companies, electric component producers, and natural product manufacturers all are examples of the types of employers locating in the region.
The key to unlocking economic prosperity in the region is matching industries that have the most potential for growth (local specialization, adding jobs, and gaining market share) with what makes most sense given local preferences and community values. By focusing on the region’s best opportunities for growth, we can maximize local opportunities within specific target industry sectors. In order to attract and retain businesses within these target industries, we need to address the factors that influence business location decisions. Businesses, like people, have a wide range of choices in terms of where to locate. The availability of infrastructure, cost of energy, quality of workforce, general business environment, availability of resources, and quality of life all factor into business location decisions.
Many of the systems that support businesses and economic development cross jurisdictional boundaries. Economic prosperity and advantage relies on the ability to create linkages within the regional system of resources to expand and strengthen our economic competitiveness.
Read more about this theme in the Business Support and Entrepreneurship section (pdf) of the Regional Plan.