NC IT Roadmap - Economic Development

“I believe in a prosperous, forward thinking North Carolina, where people are better educated and healthier with more money in their pockets.” 

- Governor Cooper

North Carolina continues to be one of the fastest growing states in the country. It is critical for state government to encourage and manage this development. We need to make it easy for small businesses to start and grow, and entice both businesses and talented workers to come to the state. We also need to train our workforce, ensuring that we have the right skillsets to draw business to the state. Regardless of the industry, be it tourism, technology, film, or agriculture, we can and should be using IT to make this growth and development easier. 


Tourism is an increasingly important part of our economy. From Kitty Hawk to Biltmore Estate, the Outer Banks to the Blue Ridge Parkway, North Carolina is a vast state with beautiful landscapes, rich in history, culture, and cuisine. We are working hard to develop new ways for residents and visitors to learn more about and experience our state. 

NC360: Inspired by the 100th anniversary of North Carolina state parks in 2016, the N.C. Department of Information Technology and several other state government agencies worked with Google over three years to launch NC360, an online immersive experience that allows anyone in the world to virtually explore the state's natural and cultural attractions. It is the largest state-led 360-degree program of its kind in the U.S. The project has potential applications for education, tourism, accessibility, and safety and emergency response. 


Cultural Tourism Mobile App: The Department of Natural and Cultural Resources (DNCR) is working on a mobile app to better promote cultural experiences to new audiences. The app will use geo-location services to display nearby attractions and points of interest. For example, an app user traveling on the interstate may see that there is a great state park on their route and stop for a visit. While there, they may also use the app to discover museums or other cultural attractions close by. DNCR is working with a third party that focuses on destination marketing, tourism and related areas to develop the app, which will be promoted by Chambers of Commerce and similar organizations.   

Rural Economic Development 

While the economy of the state continues to grow, most of the growth has taken place in urban counties. Eighty-six percent of the employment growth in our state between November 2016 and November 2017 happened in the Triangle and Charlotte regions. With 80 of our 100 counties classified as rural, this disparity is immense. 

“State government needs to do more than talk about the rural-urban divide, we need to do something about it. This is personal to me.” 

- Governor Cooper

Connecting rural communities: We are working to assist rural areas in transitioning to a knowledge and innovation-based economy. Through our Broadband Infrastructure Office we are partnering with local governments and private sector broadband providers to provide last-mile connectivity for underserved households, businesses, and community anchor institutions like libraries in Tier 1 and 2 counties.  

In addition, we are working to provide mobile hotspots and other devices to students without home broadband access to help close the homework gap, which occurs when students are unable to use the internet to complete assignments outside of school. 

Infographic Describing Hometown Strong Principles

Hometown Strong: Governor Cooper’s Hometown Strong initiative is a hands-on approach to meeting the needs of North Carolina’s rural communities. Hometown Strong creates a partnership between state agencies and local leaders to champion rural communities, leveraging state and local resources, identifying ongoing projects and community needs, and implementing focused plans to boost the economy, improve infrastructure and strengthen North Carolina’s hometowns. The initial efforts focus on projects such as infrastructure improvements, broadband access, and workforce training. 

Broadband access is a critical component of the Hometown Strong initiative. In February 2019 a Wi-Fi pilot program was announced as a partnership between the State Library, the Broadband Infrastructure Office, the Robeson County Public Library, and Public Schools of Robeson County. The Hometown Strong team is also working on connectivity projects with 14 other libraries. These projects will play an important role in closing the homework gap by providing internet access for underserved students. 

NC Job Ready 

“Making North Carolina job-ready means getting people the skills they need for better-paying jobs and then connecting businesses to those workers. An educated, well-trained workforce will help grow North Carolina companies, attract new businesses and ensure we can adapt to a changing economy.” 

- Governor Cooper

NCWorks: NCWorks is a one-stop online resource for job seekers and employers in North Carolina. Job seekers can search for jobs, create resumes, and find education and training. Employers can find candidates, post jobs, and search labor market information. We are constantly looking for ways to improve this site and the ways in which we interact with North Carolina’s workforce, with the Veteran’s Portal being one of the most recent additions to the NC Works Site.  

NC GROW Financial Aid Programs: The North Carolina Community College System has established NC Getting Ready for Opportunities in the Workforce (NC GROW) Scholarships for resident students enrolled in degree programs in high-demand fields, and for students enrolled in non-credit, short-term workforce training programs for industry credentials. The scholarship for workforce training programs begins spring semester of the 2019-20 academic year, while the scholarship for degree programs begins in the 2020-21 academic year. Both programs are funded by receipts from the NC Job Ready Fund. 

“Veterans play a crucial role in powering our economy and we must make sure they have the skills they need to thrive in the workforce.” 

- Governor Cooper

CyberVetsUSA: North Carolina was chosen as one of the first three states to participate in CyberVetsUSA, a free cybersecurity training program for eligible veterans, service members transitioning to civilian life, military spouses, and members of the Reserves and National Guard who are interested in pursuing a cybersecurity career. Cybersecurity jobs are in higher demand than ever before, and this demand is only slated to grow. Participants can get online cybersecurity training at no cost using self-paced, online cyber-related training content provided by leading industry partners. To bring this project to fruition, Cisco Systems, Inc. will partner with industry partners, the N.C. Department of Military and Veterans Affairs, the N.C. Department of Information Technology, the N.C. Department of Commerce, post-secondary institutions, and veteran service organizations throughout the state.