New Strategic Plan For Economic Development Highlights Importance Of Talent And Workforce Development

Raleigh, N.C. – The North Carolina Department of Commerce today released the Economic Development Strategic Plan for the State of North Carolina. The plan, titled First in Talent, recognizes that investing in North Carolina’s workforce is the key to building a more prosperous and resilient economy for all North Carolinians.

The comprehensive economic development plan is a four-year plan that identifies three key goals critical to the state’s economic development strategy:

  • Prepare North Carolina’s workforce for career and entrepreneurial success.
  • Prepare North Carolina’s businesses for success by growing and attracting a talented workforce.
  • Prepare communities across North Carolina to be more competitive in growing and attracting a talented workforce and businesses.  

Data and regional community input are core to the foundation of the First In Talent Plan. More than 250 individuals provided key ideas and feedback to the plan’s goals, strategies, and tactics during eight regional sessions across North Carolina’s Prosperity Zones. The accompanying “State of North Carolina Economic Overview” comprises two parts. Part One examines long-term trends prior to the COVID-19 pandemic. The second is an update completed in June 2021 specifically focusing on economic conditions that are likely to impact North Carolina’s workforce, business, and community success. While North Carolina has made progress towards economic recovery, direct and intentional efforts are required to ensure our recovery includes all areas of the state and future growth is equitable.

“The Economic Development Strategic Plan for the State of North Carolina: First in Talent focuses on North Carolina’s greatest asset – it’s people,” said North Carolina Commerce Secretary Machelle Baker Sanders. “Approaching the development of our state’s talent through a lens of greater inclusion and equity—a lens we apply to our entire plan—will ensure a diverse, strong workforce, ready to fill the jobs of today and tomorrow.  

The North Carolina Department of Commerce is statutorily required to develop the state’s economic development plan and provide updates on the status of the plan annually. The Department first partnered with the UNC School of Government in 2019 to analyze the economic data and incorporate feedback from stakeholders, used to inform the plan’s overarching goals.

“The First in Talent plan is one that represents collaborative partnerships across multiple economic development stakeholders, both public and private,” said North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper. “It’s a plan designed for the entire state to strengthen our economy for the future.”

The North Carolina Department of Commerce will host a Strategic Economic Development Plan Virtual Town Hall on July 20, 2021 from 2:00-3:00pm. Secretary Sanders will highlight the latest trends in North Carolina’s economy, as well as the strategies and tactics outlined in the plan.

Also participating in the Town Hall are Chris Chung, CEO of the Economic Development Partnership of North Carolina (EDPNC); Cecilia Holden, President and CEO of myFutureNC; and representatives from the North Carolina Department of Commerce; the North Carolina Department of Information Technology; and the Office of the Governor.

Members of the public and media can register to attend the North Carolina Department of Commerce’s Economic Development Strategic Plan Virtual Town Hall here.

A digital copy of the Strategic Economic Development Plan can be found here.

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