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NC Carolina Core Initiative Includes Moore County

Moore County is a bit of an outlier when it comes to big picture economic development efforts across the state. There is no neat box to check where we fit in. But whether you are looking eastward to Fort Bragg, westward to Charlotte, or headed north to the Triad and Triangle regions, Moore lies within close enough proximity to exact some benefits from each. “You are a little on the periphery but we see you as part of our bigger strategy,” said Stan Kelly, president and CEO of Piedmont Triad Partnership, speaking to members of Moore Partners in Progress on Tuesday. That strategy is Carolina Core, a new unified branding initiative that links 17 counties across central North Carolina, knitting together the various interests and competitive assets under a common marketing theme to recruit large employers and businesses.

“We see the next engine of economic growth will be in central North Carolina,” Kelly said.

It is estimated that North Carolina’s population has reached 10.5 million in 2019, making it the 10th most populous state in the country. But much of that population, estimated at about 80 percent, is located within the state’s so-called “urban crescent.”

Looking ahead, Kelly anticipates future population and businesses will fill in the spaces in between. This “emerging megasite corridor” stretches between Winston-Salem and  Fayetteville, primarily along N.C. 421.

The purpose of the Carolina Core initiative is to bundle all of the competitive assets of central North Carolina — the megasites, infrastructureworkforce development and educational institutions, and leadership — with a common branding to increase the region’s leverage when it comes to recruiting large employment opportunities.

“The bottom line is a win for one is a win for all,” Kelly said. “If we win a big project at the Moncure megasite, there is a greater likelihood of the next project coming to the Chatham megasite. The ripple effect will pay off.”

PTP’s goal for Carolina Core is to create 50,000 new jobs by 2038.

“Last year we added 8,500 new jobs: we are making progress,” he said.

Kelly said one of area’s strengths, and certainly is particularly true for Moore County, is the “great pool of talent” coming from retiring military service members.

“The military workforce is a huge asset,” he said.

Other assets in Moore County he identified include FirstHealth of the Carolinas and the area’s strong medical community, and its golf courses.

“If I am talking to someone anywhere from around the world, they always know where Pinehurst is,” he said.

An asset map of the Carolina Core highlights Pinehurst, alongside military bases, universities, airports, railroad and highway corridors, megasites and additional locations identified as “transformational platforms,” or sites that would be particularly attractive for large companies.

“When you wrap this all in a bigger view, it gives us a story we can take on the road when we talk to site consultants. It gives us six or ten things to talk about, instead of just one,” Kelly said. “This is about the cumulative assets of this region.”

“A lot of this is about playing more offense. We have knitted together our assets to allow us to talk to more industries with a lot more opportunities,” he said. “We are telling and and we are selling it.”

(Story by Laura Douglass reprinted from The Pilot 2-6-19.)

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