Economy

North Carolina aims for more defense contracts

RALEIGH — State officials are looking for a much-needed economic boost by claiming a greater share of military and defense contracts.

To do that, they have identified 200 companies with current defense contracts as well as hundreds of potential contractors in defense and security. This is a nucleus of an emerging hub that could be leveraged to capture more military contracts, according to an analysis by the N.C. Military Foundation in Raleigh.

The foundation was begun by Gov. Beverly Perdue in 2006, when she was lieutenant governor. She was on hand Wednesday to promote the foundation's findings at a news conference at the worldwide headquarters of the LORD Corp. in Cary. Flanked by a Sikorsky helicopter and an armored truck, both equipped with the local company's gear and technology, Perdue said increased military contracting is crucial to the state's financial health.

"It's about creating a new economy in North Carolina," Perdue said. "We have a tremendous unlimited potential here."

Perdue said North Carolina ranks third nationwide in total military personnel but ranks 33rdin defense contracts awarded to companies in the state. The disparity is partly caused by businesses operating in isolation rather than collaborating with one another and with the state's universities for contracts in research, design and manufacturing.

Several officials said they were surprised by the critical mass of companies in this state that work for the military.

Many of the companies identified by the foundation are not known as defense contractors but create software, technology, communications, engineering and video gaming.

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