Economic Development and Business Leaders Discuss North Carolina's Future Growth Through Innovation at First-ever EDPNC Annual Forum on Economic Development

April 7, 2022

On March 24, 2022, economic developers, elected officials and industry CEOs gathered to discuss how innovation and talent will continue to transform North Carolina’s business landscape at the inaugural Economic Development Partnership of North Carolina (EDPNC) Annual Forum on Economic Development.

Former North Carolina State Senator and EDPNC Board Chairman Gene McLaurin opened the Forum with an overview of the strategic imperatives that will keep North Carolina attractive to companies and talent from across the US. EDPNC CEO Christopher Chung then spoke about the EDPNC’s 2021 record-setting economic development performance and its robust 2022 business recruitment and development pipeline. He was followed by Duke Energy Carolina’s EVP and CEO Julie Janson, who served as the forum’s keynote speaker and spoke about North Carolina’s transition to clean energy.

“North Carolina is on a fast-track for growth and was even recognized in 2021 by Site Selection Magazine as the nation’s top business climate,” said Chung. “Our state’s 2021 economic development was record-setting and made possible through our shared achievements with the state’s economic development team, led by Governor Roy Cooper, and the N.C. Commerce Department, General Assembly and regional and local economic developers and private sector allies.”

North Carolina continues to experience Impressive economic development. The week after the forum, Governor Cooper announced that Vietnamese electric vehicle manufacturer VinFast will build its first ever North American assembly plant, with a proposed $4 billion investment at 7,900 jobs.

North Carolina Department of Commerce Secretary Machelle Baker Sanders and Infosys President Ravi Kumar next spoke about how North Carolina shores up its economic development through a qualified and robust talent ecosystem with a goal to be “First in Talent” in the United States. Kumar discussed how Infosys, a globally certified top employer with over 290,000 employees that opened its Technology & Innovation Hub in Raleigh in 2018 to accelerate the pace of innovation for American industry, engages employees and develops an organizational culture that supports employee development, education and diversity and inclusion initiatives.

“Developing a talented workforce is a major component to any company’s or organization’s success, even for a state like North Carolina,” Secretary Sanders said. “Cultivating our workforce, educating them and preparing them for the future of business and innovation sets everyone up for success – it’s far reaching.”

Secretary Sanders also joined Dominion Energy SVP and Chief Innovation Officer Mark Webb and AI start-up innovator CTO and Founder Mike Prorock for a panel discussion on advancing North Carolina business through innovation and upskilling professionals for jobs of the future that do not currently exist.

With the theme “AdvaNCing,” this one-day Forum brought together industry leaders to discuss advancing North Carolina’s economic development performance, emerging trends, industries to watch and the state’s competitive outlook. The forum, presented by Piedmont Lithium, was sponsored by Research Triangle Park; Thermo Fisher Scientific; the Triangle, Triad, and Charlotte Business Journals, which also were our exclusive media partners; Duke Energy and NC Electric Cooperatives.