Cover Story: NC - Top Business Climate 2010

By Jeff Atkinson - bio l email

CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - Site Selection Magazine, It's like a Zagat's Guide of where to do business.  And if North Carolina was a restaurant, we'd get five stars.

With the jobless rate in the double digits, states are beating the bushes trying to attract that next big company, Which is why this story offers some hope.

Site Selection magazine is the Bible for companies looking to relocate.  And it just named North Carolina the state with the Top Business Climate for 2010.

The rankings were released this week.

How did we get there and will it lead to more jobs?

"This is a new generator rotor that we just manufactured."

The equipment they make is huge.  The place they build it is even bigger.  It's five football fields in length, three football fields wide.  It's Siemens Energy Turbine Generator Center in southwest Charlotte off Westinghouse Boulevard.

"Over 70-percent of what we build ships everywhere around the world," says Mark Pringle, Director of Operations for Siemens Energy Charlotte.

The manufacturing behemoth was once part of Westinghouse is now owned by the German energy conglomerate, and beginning next year will grow to double in size

Pringle says there were a number of states Siemens could have gone to expand, but North Carolina sealed the deal.  "If we're going to grow somewhere let's grow where the action is and where there's a lot of people that know our business," he says.

It's happening more frequently.  Site Selection magazine ranked North Carolina number one in "Top Business Climate" for the ninth year in a decade.

The magazine cited the state's skilled labor force, education and training programs, transportation, and low cost of doing business.

Jeff Edge is the Charlotte Chamber's Senior V.P. of Economic Development.  He says the rankings put us in a good spot as the economy improves and companies get off the sidelines.

"We're going to be positioned from a visibility perspective as being one of the places we have to look at North Carolina. If you're going to look at North Carolina you're going to have to look at Charlotte.. we are the business center of the state," he says.

The list of companies who've either landed in the state or expanded this year is large.  Economic incentives have certainly played a role and have been controversial.  Typically state and local governments give companies a rebate on the new taxes generated the first few years of the project, figuring they'll pay off in the long-term.

"A little bit of something better than 100-percent of nothing," says Edge.  "It's a matter do you want to be in that game and land the deals or not. And in today's marketplace you have to be in the game with incentives."

Will the star treatment lead to more jobs?  Economic development officials hope so.

While North Carolina came in first, South Carolina wasn't far behind.  The Palmetto State placed fifth in Site Selection's business climate rankings.

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