North Carolina has seen substantial investment from automotive suppliers. And this year, those projects helped soften the blow of missing out on the bid to attract a $1.6 billion Toyota-Mazda joint-venture auto assembly plant. The project instead went to North Carolina's final competitor, Alabama.
But Christopher Chung, CEO of the Economic Development Partnership of North Carolina, said state officials learned a few things in the hard-fought Toyota-Mazda contest, and they are now ready to pitch even harder for the next auto plant.
One lesson was that aggressive incentives are needed to help get companies up and ready for market faster. The other was that megasites - certified, construction-ready industrial parcels - are the winning ticket to attracting an automaker.
The state already had been working with communities to identify and certify megasites, and North Carolina now has four big properties to offer.
The state now has a new resolve, Chung said.
"Because of the work in developing sites," he said, "and because of the work getting to an agreement about what it takes in incentives, for the next opportunity we'll say, 'We know what we did last time, let's do that again and hope the outcome is a little bit different.'"