Harnett County has a diverse economy with significant concentrations in several key industry sectors. Within these sectors, Harnett County has an impressive supply of well-educated and trained workers, along with strong academic, government and industry support. Five of Harnett County’s strongest economic sectors are Agriculture, Military & Defense, Health Sciences, Manufacturing, and Transportation Logistics. The strong clustering of these sectors provides business and industry locating in Harnett County distinct competitive advantage.
Agriculture, Forestry & Food
Harnett County has a long history in agriculture and is a leader in areas such as crop and poultry production and forestry. The industry has grown by 10% from 2007 to 2012 and a new face of farming has cropped up, from newer family-owned farms pursuing organic and sustainable practices, to those that have shifted from tobacco to other crops, including sweet potatoes, strawberries and greenhouse vegetables. In 2012, the market value of products sold from Harnett County farms exceeded $190 million. The Harnett County Center of the North Carolina Cooperative Extension partners with communities to deliver education and technology that enrich the farming network.
Harnett County’s Health Sciences cluster centers around planning, managing and providing therapeutic services, diagnostic services, health informatics and support services. Harnett County’s top-notch academic institutions provide talented workers for this industry. Harnett is home to Campbell University which, since founding its world-renowned pharmacy school in 1986, has emerged as one of the leading health education providers in North Carolina and the Southeastern United States. The university offers undergraduate, graduate and professional degrees in osteopathic medicine, physical therapy, public health, physician assistant, clinical research, pharmaceutical sciences and nursing, along with nearly a dozen pre-professional programs that prepare undergraduate students for advanced studies in dentistry, medicine, physical therapy, physician assistant, pharmacy, optometry and veterinary medicine. Central Carolina Community College has been providing residents with training to work in the health care field since the school’s founding in 1961. Like Campbell and CCCC, the East Carolina University School of Dental Medicine Community Service Learning Center in Harnett County produces leaders who are passionate about caring for North Carolina’s underserved populations. East Carolina’s School of Dental Medicine leads the nation in community-based, service learning oral health education.
Manufacturing has been critical to Harnett’s economy for decades. Today, Harnett County is home to a thriving and diverse manufacturing economy, producing a range of products from food products and books to large body trucks and camouflage, with myriad products in between. Harnett County partners with Campbell University’s School of Engineering and Central Carolina Community College to supply manufacturers with an excellent workforce. North Carolina State University, a tier one research university known for its strengths in engineering and industrial extension, is less than an hour away. The county’s excellent business climate, skilled and talented workers, transportation infrastructure and proximity to urban amenities make Harnett County an ideal location for a manufacturing operation.
Military & Defense
Harnett County’s location next to the U.S. Army’s largest military installation, Fort Bragg, offers access to military business opportunities along with a steady stream of skilled, knowledgeable military retirees and former service personnel who constitute a wealth of expertise and a highly capable workforce for local companies. Harnett County is home to Campbell University and is within an hour’s drive of three tier one research universities -- Duke University, North Carolina State University and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill – which further feed the talent pipeline, while Central Carolina Community College produces skilled and adaptable workers to help companies thrive. Harnett County’s focus on the defense industry provides businesses who work with the military an advantaged opportunity to grow.
Harnett County’s geographic location near the east coast, midway between New York and Florida, provides prime access to major distribution corridors and logistics efficiencies for companies. Interstate 95 runs through Harnett County, which is within seven miles of the Interstate 95 and Interstate 40 interchange, providing access to key markets in the north and south, and in the east and west. Additional transportation assets include Raleigh Durham International Airport, Fayetteville Regional Airport and Harnett County’s Jetport. The port of Wilmington is two hours away and the county is served by CSX and Norfolk Southern railroads.