Current Initiatives

There is a lot going on at N.C. Commerce, and here you'll find some of our department's key initiatives.

The New Job Retention Grant (JRG) Program Introduced

If your business or non-profit organization experienced interruption due to the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic, the new Job Retention Grant (JRG) Program may be able to offer assistance.

On July 1, 2020, Governor Roy Cooper signed into law House Bill 1023 to create the grant program (see section 4.2B of the bill).   The JRG program utilizes the Coronavirus Relief Fund to provide economic relief to North Carolina businesses and nonprofits negatively impacted by the public health emergency.

More information on the JRG program is available on our website, and applications will be accepted soon.

North Carolina's Commitment To Address Climate Change And Transition To A Clean Energy Economy

Governor Cooper issued Executive Order 80 (EO-80) in October 2018, and on October 1, 2019 N.C. Commerce published a report offering an assessment of the state's workforce with regard to clean energy and clean transportation as part of this broad initiative to transform the state's economy.

To research and produce this report, the Department of Commerce:

•    Identified the state's existing talent pool and future workforce demand
•    Assessed employers’ current and future workforce skills and training needs
•    Compiled educational program offerings, enrollment trends, and work-based learning opportunities
•    Identified gaps and areas for improvement to meet current and future workforce demand

We conducted an open process throughout our assessment, including consulting with organizations in energy and transportation sectors to identify specific industries and employers; we consulted with identified employers regarding current and future skill needs as well as challenges; we talked with public and private education institutions regarding program offerings, enrollment trends, and work-based learning opportunities; and we held an open comment period to seek input from the public. 

The final report includes recommended actions to help North Carolinians develop the required skills and education to thrive in these two important areas of the state's future economy.

For more information about this initiative, contact Dr. John Hardin, Executive Director of our Office of Science, Technology & Innovation at (919) 814-4639 or email him.  There's also more information about the broader program online at the Department of Environmental Quality's website.

NC Job Ready

Governor Cooper's NC Job Ready initiative lays out a workforce development framework to ensure that North Carolinians are ready for the jobs of today and tomorrow. The framework is built around three key principles:  

  • Skills and education attainment
  • Employer leadership: Employers know best what skills their workers need to succeed. 
  • Local innovation: North Carolina communities are succeeding with local models of workforce development. North Carolina should build on these and spread innovative solutions.

Check out NCJobReady.nc.gov for more on each principle and updates on new programs such as Finish Line Grants, which help cover unexpected expenses so community college students can finish their program of study, or the NCWorks Local Innovation Fund, which will help start or scale local workforce initiatives. 

Opportunity Zones

Opportunity Zones offer a new tool with the potential to attract investment capital into low-income areas of North Carolina. The Opportunity Zones program was created by federal tax legislation, known as The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (H.R.1). North Carolina Opportunity Zones will offer qualified investors certain tax benefits when they invest unrealized capital gains into these areas.

North Carolina’s 252 zones were certified by the United States Treasury on May 18, 2018.

Crafting a New Strategic Plan for Economic Development

The State of North Carolina will publish a new strategic plan for economic development later this year that will guide policymakers and practitioners in their work to bring more economic prosperity to the state.

On behalf of the North Carolina Department of Commerce, the ncIMPACT Initiative at the UNC School of Government recently hosted eight regional sessions to collect input from stakeholders across the state that will inform North Carolina’s Strategic Economic Development Plan.  A session was held in each of the state’s prosperity zones.  For more information on this initiative, contact David Rhoades, Communications Director at (919) 814-4611 or via email drhoades@nccommerce.com.