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Current Initiatives

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

Governor Cooper's 2019-2020 Budget Proposal | Commerce Budget Items

Governor Roy Cooper published his proposed budget for the upcoming biennium on Wednesday, March 6.  Several proposals provide additional resources for our work at the Department of Commerce.  Review the relevant items in this excerpt from the budget, starting on page 17 of the PDF document (page 171 in the printed version of the complete budget document).

Crafting a New Strategic Plan for Economic Development

The State of North Carolina will publish a new strategic plan for economic development early next year that will guide policymakers and practitioners in their work to bring more economic prosperity to the state.  Gathering input from a wide group of stakeholders is critical to the plan’s ultimate success.

On behalf of the North Carolina Department of Commerce, the ncIMPACT Initiative at the UNC School of Government will host eight regional sessions to collect input from stakeholders across the state that will inform North Carolina’s Strategic Economic Development Plan.  A session is available in each of the state’s prosperity zones and will run from 10 am - 2 pm and you can sign up at the UNC School of Government's website

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

Governor Cooper issued Executive Order 80 (EO-80) on October 29, 2018, and N.C. Commerce will develop workforce assessment reports for clean energy and clean transportation as part of this broad initiative to transform the state's economy.

We're scheduled to publish our final reports by October 1, 2019.  A draft of these reports is now available.

To compile our draft assessments, the Department of Commerce has:

•    Identifed 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
•    Identifed gaps and areas for improvement to meet current and future workforce demand
•    Recommended actions to help North Carolinians develop the required skills and education

We've conducted an open process throughout our assessment, including consulting with organizations in energy and transportation sectors to identify specific industries and employers; we've consulted with identified employers regarding current and future skill needs as well as challenges; we've 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. 

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, including a timeline for this work.

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 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.