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North Carolina’s agricultural outputs include hogs, milk, nursery stock, cattle, poultry and eggs, tobacco, sweet potatoes, and soybeans. There has been a distinct difference in the economic growth of the state’s urban areas and its rural, small-town areas. While large cities such as Charlotte, Raleigh, Cary, and others have experienced rapid population and economic growth over the last thirty years, many of the state’s small towns have suffered from job and population loss. Most of the state’s small towns historically developed around textile and furniture factories; as these factories have closed and moved to low-wage markets in Asia and Latin America the small towns that depended upon them have suffered.
Over the past century, the state has grown to become a national leader in agriculture, financial services, and manufacturing. The North Carolina’ industrial output—mainly textiles, paper and pulp/paper products, chemicals, electrical equipment, ranked eighth in the United States in the early 1990s. The textile industry, which was once a mainstay of the North Carolina’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 nation. Over the past few years, another important Carolina industry, furniture production, has also been hard-hit by jobs moving to Asia. Tobacco, one of the state’s earliest sources of revenue, 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 wine or leave farming altogether. North Carolina is the leading producer of tobacco in the nation.
Charlotte, the state’s largest city, continues to experience rapid growth, in large part due to the banking & finance industry. The city is now the second largest banking center in the nation and is home to Wachovia and Bank of America.
The information and biotechnology industries have been steadily on the rise since the creation of the Research Triangle Park in the 1950s.
The North Carolina Research Campus underway in Kannapolis promises to enrich and bolster the Charlotte area in the same way that RTP changed the Raleigh-Durham region. Encompassing 5.8 million square feet, the complex is a collaborative project involving Duke University, 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 and biotechnology. In 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 environmental sciences, nanotechnology, biotechnology & biochemistry and genetics among other science-based disciplines.
Film studios are located in Charlotte, Asheville, Wilmington, Shelby, Raleigh, Durhamand Winston-Salem.
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