North Carolina

The Duke GVC Center’s work on North Carolina has covered multile topics from a variety of angles including contract research reports and teaching/advising through the NC in the Global Economy website and Bass Connections course.

The North Carolina in the Global Economy (NCGE) project covers a unique mix of industries – from textiles, furniture, and hog farming, to information technology and biotechnology – that each play a prominent role in North Carolina’s economy. The NCGE project sheds light on how global economic forces affect local development and employment in key traditional and growing industries in North Carolina, and where the state fits into the rapidly changing economies of the United States and the rest of the world. The NCGE website ( provides a value chain analysis of seven industries to understand key issues and trends, including industrial structure and its relation to the activities of industry and public actors, the impacts of globalization at the community level, and strategies to promote the positive effects of participation in global industries. Using a unique website format with innovative visualization tools, we show how North Carolina compares with other U.S. states and the rest of the world in terms of innovation, jobs, trade, and investment for seven of the state’s major industries.

Bass Connections is a Duke university-wide, interdisciplinary initiative focused on engaging students in the exploration of unanswered questions about major societal challenges. The Duke GVC Center participated in the Bass Connections program for three years by leading a course under the education and human development theme entitled “North Carolina in the Global Economy: the Workforce Development Challenge.” The course was co-led by Dr. Gary Gereffi and Lukas Brun with research and technical support from Stacey Frederick. The course was open to undergraduate students from all disciplines and years, although the majority were juniors in Public Policy or Economics majors pursuing the Markets and Management certificate. Each of the three years had a different focus area related to workforce development and competitiveness in North Carolina:

– 2013-2014: in the first year, students looked at the seven industries on the NC in the Global Economy website and assisted the Duke GVC Center in updating the content of the website.

– 2014-2015: in year two, students researched North Carolina’s position in the defense and aerospace sectors.

– 2015-2016: In the final year, students looked at North Carolina’s Appalachian Regional Commission’s counties in the automotive and beverage value chains.

The course objectives were to update and extend our knowledge of economic and workforce development challenges in North Carolina’s main and emerging industries. The course was a highly innovative, fast-paced interdisciplinary research collaboration between students, faculty and staff focused on developing practical research and team project skills, creating networking opportunities with professionals (guest lectures and networking), identifying summer research work opportunities, and creating outputs that matter to policymakers. Each year, two teams of 3-5 students created project plans and team charters, developed value chain maps of their industries, invited guest speakers from industry, government, community colleges and non-profits, and developed websites, reports, and academic articles summarizing their findings.


North Carolina in the Global Economy

Presentation to the 2015 Manufacturing Conference (mfgCON), which brought together industry, education, and government to discuss the challenges and opportunities of manufacturing in North Carolina. The presentation highlighted the Center’s sponsored research around the globe to address development issues, the North Carolina in the Global Economy website applying the analytic framework to major NC industries, and highlighted the furniture industry to provide an example of the type of analysis available on the website.

Quantifying the Value of Place-based Exchange within a Global Production Network

The household furniture industry in central North Carolina provided a critical manufacturing base for the American South in the early twentieth century and ultimately encompassed a network of firms throughout the Southeastern United States. At its zenith in the 1980’s, the household furniture industry employed over 90,000 workers in North Carolina.

New reports show how hot North Carolina’s solar-power industry has gotten

The Solar Economy: Widespread Benefits for North Carolina

This report by the Duke GVC Center for the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) describes a solar “value chain” of investors, solar developers, construction contractors and solar panel and component manufacturers comprising more than 450 companies. Together, these companies support some 4,300 jobs and represent a $2 billion investment. In addition to jobs, solar industry-related businesses provide income for landowners and tax revenue for N.C. towns, the report states.

N.C. ranks No. 1 in South for solar energy capacity

North Carolina, which had almost no large-scale solar energy seven years ago, now ranks first in the Southeast and fourth in the nation in solar energy capacity, according to a new report from Duke University.

North Carolina’s Future Looks Bright With Solar Energy

“North Carolina is in an enviable position when it comes to solar power development,” said the report’s lead author, Lukas Brun, senior research analyst at Duke’s Center on Globalization, Governance & Competitiveness (CGGC). “From being virtually non-existent in 2008, it is today the South’s leader in solar power. The result has been a growth in companies and employment in the industry, providing wide-spread benefits to the state.”

North Carolina in the Global Economy

Lukas Brun gave this presentation on the NC in the GLobal Economy website at the World View Community College Symposium, held at the UNC Friday Center.

DC Briefing: North Carolina in the Global Economy

Staff from North Carolina Congressional offices, representatives from Governor Pat McCrory’s Washington office, and individuals representing North Carolina-focused businesses gathered in a Capitol Hill meeting room on Friday morning to learn more about the North Carolina in the Global Economy (NCGE) project, a Duke-created website that provides information and insight into North Carolina’s traditional and emerging industries. Dr. Gary Gereffi, professor of sociology and director of the Center on Globalization, Governance, and Competitiveness at Duke, heads up the project and led Friday’s presentation.

North Carolina’s Manufacturing Wage Gap