In 2016, the Economic Development Partnership of North Carolina (EDPNC) and its partners helped close deals on 139 business recruitment and expansion projects, a large increase over the 97 projects supported and announced in 2015.

The projects announced in 2016 called for creating 14,944 new jobs and investing $3.8 billion in North Carolina over the next several years. That exceeds 2015 totals, when companies pledged 13,357 new jobs and $3.3 billion in investment in project announcements.

Software giant Citrix’s announcement it was adding 400 jobs in Raleigh was one of the final project announcements of 2016.

The increases stem, in part, from the EDPNC better integrating the efforts of two of its divisions — business recruitment managers and regional industry managers — that serve as primary points of contact for growing companies. The EDPNC also fully staffed both teams, who work with local and state economic development partners, both public and private, to help companies locate sites in North Carolina or expand existing operations.

The eight regional industry managers, who are assigned to one of eight multicounty “prosperity zones,” routinely visit businesses within their respective zones to become familiar with their operations. Team members build relationships with these companies and find out what stands in the way of their growth. The managers then connect those businesses to resources that can help them clear hurdles such as finding qualified workers or accessing funds for building renovations.

In 2016, the regional industry managers assumed full responsibility for assisting existing North Carolina companies with typically smaller expansions not eligible for the largest state incentives. The EDPNC’s business recruitment team previously managed those projects.

The change has enabled the business recruitment team to focus more sharply on attracting new companies to North Carolina and supporting larger expansions of companies already located in the state. Meanwhile, the shift takes full advantage of the regional industry managers’ existing relationships with businesses that are poised to grow.