North Carolina's economy was based primarily on tobacco cultivation in the 1700s and 1800s and on the manufacture of tobacco products and textiles in the early 20th century. As the economy shifted in the late 20th century from relying on “muscle strength” to using “mental strength,” higher education expanded everywhere. North Carolina had already developed a strong public university system to complement its high-profile private universities and colleges. Therefore, the state was ready to expand its university education.
One factor that helped the state was the high level of state support for higher education, which allowed North Carolina to be among the states with the lowest tuition and rates for public universities. But two trade agreements in the 1990s and 2000s, NAFTA (North American Free Trade Agreement) and the WTO (World Trade Organization), really put an end to globalization. I mentioned that the textile industry was once one of the dominant economic sectors in the state for many decades. When I arrived in the state in the 1970s, the “Three major tobacco, textile and furniture industries dominated the economy, accounting for almost a quarter of all economic output.
A joint effort between Carolina's Kickstart Venture Services and Duke University's New Ventures Program, the new Entrepreneurial Startup Hub provides startups with access to a business ecosystem, a joint talent network, and an established database of service providers. This plays a critical role in attracting new businesses, creating more jobs, and expanding North Carolina's tax base. North Carolina's unemployment rate fell 0.2 percent from December to January, ranking sixth in the change throughout the month. For the value of agricultural products sold, the agricultural industry is and will continue to be central to North Carolina's reputation as an economic leader in the Southeast.
Finally, as the nation became more economically and culturally linked in the late 20th and early 21st centuries, business and household relocation increased. Carolina's more than 336,300 alumni live across the country and around the world, but some have stayed close to home and their presence here has enriched the Carolina community. As early as the 1950s, North Carolina's forward-thinking state leaders recognized that economic change was on the way. The wealth of talent that comes from the UNC System keeps North Carolina companies competitive in the global economy.
North Carolina has consistently been on the positive side of these relocations, with many more businesses and people moving to the state moving.