A new president, a new governor, 75 straight months of U.S. job creation and relief that controversy-laden 2016 is over — there’s lots of good reasons for optimism in 2017. That is especially true for North Carolina businesses, many of which are strengthening amid the headline-grabbing political rhetoric. Small-business optimism nationally is at the highest level since 2006, and North Carolina ranked among the top 10 states for job growth in 2016 for the first time since the recession, according to Wells Fargo Securities researchers. Best of all, federal data shows that it isn’t just the biggest cities that are expanding: Greenville, Hickory and Rocky Mount also added jobs last year, reversing recent trends. To give a snapshot of the state’s economy, Business North Carolina selected statistics for 10 key industry sectors and asked a diverse group of leaders to share perspectives on important trends. The general consensus is for continued economic expansion, bolstered by more tax cuts and less government oversight in the post-Obama era. Comments were edited for brevity and clarity.
by Laura MacLean, Cathy Martin, David Mildenberg, Catherine Pritchard, Hailey Waller and Allison Williams