RALEIGH—A new paper released today by Think NC First calls for a new economic development strategy for North Carolina that emphasizes shared prosperity.

Rebuilding the Bridge to the Future: An Analysis of What Works for North Carolina's Economy tells the story of how North Carolina’s economic development strategy in the 1990s helped build an economy that created prosperity up and down the income scale. The paper details how that strategy has broken down and growth over the last several years hasn’t been shared, but instead, increased inequality. Gone are well-paying “middle-income jobs” that have been replaced with low-paying jobs in service industries.

Authors T. William Lester and Nichola Lowe argue that North Carolina should recommit to smart strategic interventions that create good-paying jobs, increase wages and develop emerging industries.

“While North Carolina’s economy faces the challenge of growing inequality and imbalanced growth, the state can build on its long tradition of strategic policy intervention that helps reshape predominant growth trends to foster broad based economic prosperity,” said Lester and Lowe.

In addition to describing a new economic development strategy based on shared prosperity, Lester and Lowe provide nine concrete ways to improve the state’s economic development incentive programs. Programs such as JDIG and One NC have been political hot buttons in recent months as the Governor, House and Senate debate the future of economic development in North Carolina.

For the report go here (HTML) or (PDF). For questions or interviews about the paper, please contact William Lester at twlester@email.unc.edu or (310) 562-8392.

About the Authors

T. William Lester is an Assistant professor of City and Regional Planning at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. His research interests are broad within the field of urban and regional economic development, but generally focus on the role of social institutions and policy interventions in reducing income inequality and promoting balanced economic growth. Dr. Lester received a Ph.D. in City and Regional Planning from the University of California, Berkeley.

Nichola Lowe conducts research on economic and workforce development and is Associate Professor of City and Regional Planning at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Her work focuses on the institutional arrangements that lead to more inclusive forms of state and local economic development and specifically, the role that development practitioners can play in aligning growth and equity goals. She joined the faculty at UNC- Chapel Hill in 2005 after receiving her Ph.D. in Economic Development and Planning from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.


About Think NC First

Think North Carolina First (Think) is a policy and message development think tank that serves as a reliable source of evidence-based research for policy makers and thought leaders. It is Think’s mission to produce pragmatic ideas and research accessible to the average North Carolinian that can be used to formulate, debate and implement public policy.