ECONOMY OF NORTH CAROLINA

Charlotte's growing skyline
According to the Bureau of Economic Analysis, the state's 2008 total gross state product was $400.2 billion, it is the ninth wealthiest state in terms of gross domestic product. Its 2007 per capita personal income was $33,735, placing 36th in the nation. North Carolina's agricultural outputs include poultry and eggs, tobacco, hogs, milk, nursery stock, cattle, sweet potatoes, and soybeans. However, North Carolina has recently been affected by offshoring and industrial growth in countries like China; one in five manufacturing jobs in the state has been lost to overseas competition. There has been a distinct difference in the economic growth of North Carolina's urban and rural areas. While large cities such as Charlotte, Raleigh, Greensboro, and others have experienced rapid population and economic growth over the last thirty years, many of the state's small towns have suffered from loss of jobs and population. Most of North Carolina's small towns historically developed around textile and furniture factories. As these factories closed and moved to low-wage markets in Asia and Latin America, the small towns that depended upon them have suffered. The first gold nugget found in the U.S. was found in Cabarrus County in 1799. The first gold dollar minted in the U.S. was minted at the Bechtler Mint in Rutherford County.

Raleigh, the growing capital of North Carolina
Agriculture and manufacturing
Over the past century, North Carolina has grown to become a national leader in agriculture, financial services, and manufacturing. The state's industrial output—mainly textiles, chemicals, electrical equipment, paper and pulp/paper products—ranked eighth in the nation in the early 1990s. The textile industry, which was once a mainstay of the state's economy, has been steadily losing jobs to producers in Latin America and Asia for the past 25 years, though the state remains the largest textile employer in the United States. Over the past few years, another important Carolina industry, furniture production, has also been hard hit by jobs moving to Asia (especially China). North Carolina is the leading producer of tobacco in the country. As one of North Carolina's earliest sources of revenue, it remains vital to the local economy, although concerns about whether the federal government will continue to support subsidies for tobacco farmers has led some growers to switch to other crops like grapes for wine or leave farming altogether. Agriculture in the western counties of North Carolina (particularly Buncombe and surrounding counties) is presently experiencing a revitalization coupled with a shift to niche marketing, fueled by the growing demand for organic and local products.

Finance, technology and research
Charlotte, North Carolina's largest city, continues to experience rapid growth, in large part due to the banking & finance industry. Charlotte is now the second largest banking center in the United States (after New York), and is home to Bank of America and Wells Fargo subsidiary, Wachovia. The Charlotte metro area is also home to 5 other Fortune 500 companies. BB&T (Branch Banking & Trust), one of America's largest banks, was founded in Wilson, NC in 1872. Today, BB&T's headquarters is in Winston-Salem, although some operations still take place in Wilson.

The information and biotechnology industries have been steadily on the rise since the creation of the Research Triangle Park (RTP) in the 1950s. Located between Raleigh, Durham, and Chapel Hill (mostly in Durham County), it is a globally prominent research center home to over 170 companies and federal agencies and is the largest and oldest continuously operating research and science park in the United States. Anchored by UNC (Chapel Hill), Duke (Durham), and NC State (Raleigh), the park's proximity to these research universities has no doubt helped to fuel growth.

The North Carolina Research Campus underway in Kannapolis (approx. 30 miles (48 km) northeast of Charlotte) aims to enrich and bolster the Charlotte area in the same way that RTP changed the Raleigh-Durham region.[43] Encompassing 5,800,000 square feet (539,000 m2), the complex is a collaborative project involving Duke University, University of North Carolina at Charlotte, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and N.C. State University, along with private and corporate investors and developers. The facility incorporates corporate, academic, commercial and residential space, oriented toward research and development (R&D) and biotechnology. Similarly, in downtown Winston-Salem, the Piedmont Triad Research Park is undergoing an expansion. Approximately thirty miles to the east of Winston Salem's research park, the University of North Carolina at Greensboro and North Carolina A&T State University have joined forces to create the Gateway University Research Park, a technology-based research entity which will focus its efforts on areas such as nanotechnology, biotechnology & biochemistry, environmental sciences, and genetics among other science-based disciplines.

Film and the arts
Film studios are located in Shelby, Raleigh, Durham, Charlotte, Asheville, Wilmington, and Winston-Salem. Some of the best-known films and television shows filmed in the state include: All the Real Girls, The Secret Life of Bees, Being There, Blue Velvet, Bull Durham, A Walk to Remember, Glory, The Color Purple, Cabin Fever, Super Mario Bros., Cape Fear, Children of the Corn, The Crow, Dawson's Creek, Dirty Dancing, Evil Dead 2, The Fugitive, The Green Mile, Hannibal, The Last of the Mohicans, Nell, One Tree Hill, Patch Adams, Shallow Hal, Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby, Leatherheads, Nights in Rodanthe and 28 Days. Half of Steven King's movies were filmed in North Carolina. The television show most associated with North Carolina is The Andy Griffith Show, which aired on CBS-TV from 1960 to 1968. The series is set in the fictional small town of Mayberry, North Carolina, and was based on the real-life town of Mount Airy, North Carolina, although it was filmed in California. Mount Airy is the hometown of actor Andy Griffith. The show is still popular in reruns and is frequently shown in syndication around the nation. North Carolina is also home to some of the Southeast's biggest film festivals, including the National Black Theatre Festival and the RiverRun International Film Festival in Winston-Salem, and the Full Frame Documentary Film Festival in Durham, North Carolina.

Tourism
Tourism destinations in the state include amusement parks, golf, wineries, beaches, meetings and conventions and sports venues. The North Carolina tourism industry employs more than 190,000 people. The state is the 6th most visited in the country (preceded by Florida, California, New York, Nevada and Pennsylvania). The North Carolina Department of Commerce maintains a Tourism Services providing matching funds and consultation for development tourism in the state including rural tourism.

Tax revenue
North Carolina personal income tax is slightly progressive, with four incremental brackets ranging from 6.0% to 8.25%. The base state sales tax is 4.25%. Most taxable sales or purchases are subject to the state tax as well as the 2.5% local tax rate levied by all counties, for a combined 6.75%. Mecklenburg County has an additional 0.5% local tax for public transportation, bringing sales taxes there to a total 7.25%. The total local rate of tax in Dare County is 3.5%, producing a combined state and local rate there of 7.75%.In addition, there is a 30.2¢ tax per gallon of gas, a 30¢ tax per pack of cigarettes, a 79¢ tax on wine, and a 48¢ tax on beer. There are also additional taxes levied against food and prepared foods, normally totaling 2% and 8% respectively. The property tax in North Carolina is locally assessed and collected by the counties. The three main elements of the property tax system in North Carolina are real property, motor vehicles and personal property (inventories and household personal property are exempt). Estimated at 10.5% of income, North Carolina’s state/local tax burden percentage ranks 23rd highest nationally (taxpayers pay an average of $3,526 per-capita), just below the national average of 10.6%. North Carolina ranks 40th in the Tax Foundation's State Business Tax Climate Index with neighboring states ranked as follows: Tennessee (18th), Georgia (19th), South Carolina (26th) and Virginia (13th).

Luciano Mende

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