North Carolina has received Area Development magazine’s 2018 Gold Shovel Award, recognizing the state’s top-tier success in winning high-impact economic development projects in 2017.

North Carolina, which in 2017 had one of its best years for  job recruitment in over a decade, is one of only five states to receive a 2018 Gold Shovel Award. The magazine, which covers site selection and facility planning, considers a state’s top 10 job-creation and investment projects in granting the award.

While North Carolina frequently appears among the top five states in well-respected business rankings, this is the first time the state has taken home the gold from Area Development, which launched its annual Gold & Silver Shovel Awards in 2006.

In September 2017, Infosys announced Raleigh would be the home of its North Carolina Technology and Innovation Hub. Pictured from left to right are Infosys Chief Financial Officer M.D. Ranganath, Raleigh Mayor Nancy McFarlane, North Carolina Commerce Secretary Anthony M. Copeland, and Infosys President Ravi Kumar.

“We’re honored by this latest recognition of our state’s continued success in attracting new business,” said North Carolina Commerce Secretary Anthony M. Copeland. “And the fact this Gold Shovel is a first for the state, which has received eight Silver Shovels, is further proof we’re building on North Carolina’s already strong momentum.”

Recruiting new and expanded corporate facilities is a team sport. In 2017, the Economic Development Partnership of North Carolina (EDPNC), working with Commerce and other partners, helped close deals on 150 projects expected to create nearly 20,000 new jobs and $4.14 billion in new investment.

Area Development’s 2018 Gold Shovel goes to the leading states in five population categories, considering their top-10 projects undertaken in 2017. Awards are based on the number of high-value jobs created per capita, amount of investment and industry diversity. North Carolina won in the 8-to-12 million population category.

The Shovel Awards recognize state economic development agencies that drive significant job creation through innovative policies, infrastructure improvements, processes and promotions that attract new employers and investment in new or expanded facilities.

“North Carolina is often among the list of finalists for new corporate facilities,” said Christopher Chung, chief executive officer of the EDPNC, which operates under contract with the state Department of Commerce. “Our unmatched quality of life, superior educational institutions, population growth rate that’s among the country’s fastest ‒ these have always been and continue to be among the biggest reasons why companies choose us.”

Area Development invited all 50 states to submit their top-10 projects. In addition to the top five Gold Shovel states, 17 runner-up states in the five population categories received Silver Shovels.

The Shovel Awards also recognize large job-creating Projects of the Year. In North Carolina, those projects were:

  • Allstate’s plan to expand its operations center in Charlotte, adding 2,250 jobs to the roughly 1,400 already there.
  • Swiss banking giant Credit Suisse’s announcement of a 1,200-job expansion of its financial services operations in Research Triangle Park.
  • India-based technology consultant Infosys’ choice of Raleigh for a 2,000-job technology and innovation hub.

North Carolina’s 2017 list of top projects attests to its solid and diverse manufacturing scene, Area Development said. As examples, the magazine highlighted China-based Triangle Tyre Co.’s plan for a $580 million tire-manufacturing facility that will create 800 jobs in Edgecombe County and positive headlines in pharmaceuticals and pharmaceutical packaging, wood and paper products.

Read Area Development’s full coverage of its 2018 Shovel Awards here.