Tar Heel state businesses earned more than $2.8 billion in military and other defense contacts in 2017, up more than $400 million from the prior year, according to the North Carolina Military Business Center.
The defense industry remains the second largest sector of the state economy, officials said, citing federal statistics on contracts awarded during fiscal 2017. The annual impact in the state totals $66 billion, or 12 percent of North Carolina’s Gross Domestic Product.
Scott Dorney, executive director of the business center, said the increase in contracts was part of a larger increase in federal spending in North Carolina.
“In 2017, businesses in our state executed over $5.1 billion in federal prime contracts, $2.8 billion in DoD prime contracts, and billions more as subcontractors and suppliers on federal projects,” he said. “Each prime and subcontract performed grows jobs, expands the economy and tax base and improves quality of life for everyone in North Carolina.”
The North Carolina Military Business Center is a business development entity headquartered at Fayetteville Technical Community College. It works to leverage military and other federal business opportunities “to expand the economy, grow jobs and improve quality of life in North Carolina.”
Most of the federal dollars that are funneled to North Carolina are related to the state’s large military population.
North Carolina is home to six major military installations, including the largest in the nation, Fort Bragg, and the largest Marine Corps base on the East Coast, Camp Lejeune. It also is home to 116 National Guard and 40 Army Reserve facilities. All told, the state has the nation’s third-highest concentration of uniformed military personnel.
In 2017, the center said businesses in 81 of the state’s 100 counties have performed work as a prime contractor for the Department of Defense.
Seven counties received at least $75 million in defense contracts to local businesses in the last year.
They include Cumberland, which received $958 million — up from $896 million in 2016; Onslow, which received $539 million in contracts — up from $492 million; Craven, which received $274 million — up from $167 million; Hoke, which received $138 million — up from $51 million; Wayne, which received $133 million — up from $82 million; Wake, which received $115 million — down from $124 million; and Guilford, which received $80 million — down from $112 million.
Cumberland, Onslow, Craven, Hoke and Wayne are each home to all or part of a major military installation.