CARY, N.C. – North Carolina has a new point person focused on making sure the state is a top contender for defense-related companies considering where to locate or expand.
With more than 40 years of experience as a military and defense industry specialist, Dennis Lewis joined the Economic Development Partnership of North Carolina (EDPNC) in May as the business development manager for the military/defense industry.
“Denny will be the lead expert and driving force behind our team’s efforts to attract more defense-related businesses to North Carolina,” said Ryan Nance, director of business development for the EDPNC. “These companies could be from aerospace, cybersecurity and artificial intelligence, technical textiles, and many other sectors.”
Lewis will generate business recruitment leads for the EDPNC by identifying and building relationships with top executives of companies on the cusp of growth. These executives will know North Carolina when they are ready to launch an expansion.
Lewis’ role includes networking at key trade shows, such as the annual exposition of the Association of the United States Army in October. The Washington, D.C., event is the largest land power trade show in North America.
“Denny brings a wealth of experience, industry knowledge, credibility, and an extensive professional network to this role,” Nance said. “He retired from the Army as a full colonel, worked over two decades with prime defense contractors and has spent the last several years with the North Carolina Military Business Center supporting statewide economic development projects.”
Even as he fulfills his EDPNC role, Lewis will continue to direct the center’s Defense Technology Transition Office (DEFTECH). The North Carolina Military Business Center leverages military and other federal business opportunities to help businesses in the state. DEFTECH serves as the state’s liaison between federal innovation outreach offices and North Carolina’s businesses, university system, investors, public-private partnerships, military bases and more.
“As a member of the NC Military Business Center and the director of DEFTECH, I have learned much about the robust federal business capabilities in North Carolina and its incredible innovation ecosystem,” said Lewis, who has supervised DEFTECH since 2015. “This network and understanding of what we have in North Carolina will be very helpful in promoting the state to the defense industry.”
Prior to overseeing DEFTECH, Lewis was the defense account executive for the communications systems division at Harris Corporation, a global aerospace and defense technology innovator. Earlier this year, Harris merged with L3 Technologies to become L3 Harris Technologies, the sixth-largest defense company in the U.S.
North Carolina’s ideal environment for the defense industry includes having the second-fastest growing aerospace cluster by employment in the U.S. The state boasts 200 aerospace companies and more than 400 aerospace suppliers.
North Carolina’s research and innovation climate and strong military presence are additional recruitment assets, Lewis said.
“The market advantages are here – our military footprint, the U.S. Army Research Office in Durham and our university and private science and technology innovation centers. Our quality of life, our workforce, our community college system, our location,” Lewis said. “The bottom line is that there is a solid business case for defense contractors to expand or establish a presence in North Carolina.”
If you’re a defense-industry executive exploring the best location to grow your business, please email Dennis Lewis or call him at 703-217-3127. He’ll tell you what you want to know about North Carolina.