Southeastern North Carolina is home to several military installations in the region. Ft. Bragg, located near Fayetteville, is one of the nation's largest and most important Army installations. Ft. Bragg hosts the 82nd Airborne Division, US Army Forces Command (FORSCOM), the US Army Reserve Command (USARC), the US Army Special Operations Command, and Pope Army Airfield. In 2010, the defense industry contributed $23 billion or 7 percent to North Carolina's statewide gross domestic product (GDP) (source: NC Rural Center). It is projected that the recent move of FORSCOM and USARC to the region will result in significant growth in demand for companies engaged in contract work and could potentially bring 30,000 jobs to the region. In 2010, the defense contract dollars awarded in the target counties totaled $367 billion.
Agriculture is a key industry in the state and the largest swine processing plant in the world, Smithfield Foods, is located in the region. Other products processed and/or grown in the region include pork, poultry, sauces, sweet potato products, peanuts, soybean oil, grapes, tobacco, and blueberries. Collectively, the region is home to several of the top farm income producing counties in the nation and employs more than 20,000 in food processing companies. The transportation infrastructure that includes the Port of Wilmington and multiple interstate highways enables the exportation of more than $2 billion in agricultural products annually. FSU's EDA University Center focuses on farm employment to increase local and regional wealth through the multiplier effect of expanded markets, sales, and profits.
Energy development includes natural gas, bio-fuels, bio-mass and animal waste regeneration; solar panel and wind turbine component manufacturing; and solar panel fields. The University Center works to accelerate the use of alternative fuels thus contributing to North Carolina's state policy mandate to help create and sustain a local, statewide biofuels industry sector. Since biodiesel is produced from organic feed sources such as soybeans, cooking oil, and animal fats, the region currently possesses the resources to accomplish this goal. The increased production of agriculturally based renewable fuels in the region is expected to create jobs, help farmer families keep their land, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions from fossil fuels.
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