Business & Industry

Business & Industry of Carteret County Economic Development

Continued Economic Diversificiation

The economy of Carteret County and North Carolina’s Eastern Region continues to expand and diversify. Cooperative regional economic development efforts have provided a spectrum of employment opportunities for residents. Aggressive marketing programs are attracting significant interest from manufacturing companies, port-related logistics operations, office based/information service sector and technology, research and development firms.

2017 Employers by Industry Sector

IndustryEstablishmentsAverage EmploymentTotal Wages
Agriculture, Forestry, Fishing and Hunting15112$3,138,787
Wholesale Trade67590$25,252,649
Retail Trade37914,454$108,082,026
Transportation and Warehousing59384$16,408,978
Finance and Insurance92489$27,623,31787
Real Estate and Rental and Leasing130523$16,773,760
Professional, Scientific, and Technical Services164662$34,637,959
Administrative and Support and Waste Management and Remediation128931$25,506,025
Educational Services281,603$58,892,992
Health Care and Social Assistance1963,305$150,225,660
Arts, Entertainment and Recreation56685$14,434,095
Accommodation and Food Services2374,010$64,462,805
Other Services (except Public Administration)205830$20,202,585
Public Administration361,884$72,183,812

Source: Department of Commerce D4 Demand Driven Data Delivery System

2017 Top 25 Employers

#CompanyIndustryEmployment Range
1Carteret County Public SchoolsEducation and Health Services1000+
2Carteret County GeneralEducation and Health Services1000+
3Carteret County GovernmentPublic Administration500-999
4Wal-Mart AssociatesTrade, Transportation and Utilities250-499
5Carteret County Community CollegeEducation and Health Services250-499
6Big Rock SportsTrade, Transportation and Utilities250-499
7Food LionTrade, Transportation and Utilities250-499
8Lowes Home CentersTrade, Transportation and Utilities250-499
9Bally Refrigerated BoxesManufacturing100-249
10Town Of Morehead CityPublic Administration100-249
11Contico CorpConstruction100-249
12Lowes FoodsTrade, Transportation and Utilities100-249
13General Mills RestaurantsLeisure and Hospitality100-249
14McDonaldsLeisure and Hospitality100-249
15Atlantic Veneer GroupManufacturing100-249
16NC Department of Environment and Natural ResourcesPublic Administration100-249
17Veneer TechnologiesManufacturing100-249
18Broad Creek Holdings Inc.Leisure and Hospitality100-249
19South East Employee Leasing ServiceProfessional and Business Services100-249
20BelkTrade, Transportation and Utilities100-249
21Town of Emerald IslePublic Administration100-249
22Adams Keegan IncProfessional and Business Services100-249
23NC Department of Cultural ResourcesLeisure and Hospitality100-249
24 Newport Group IncLeisure and Hospitality100-249
25Bluewater AssociatesFinancial Activities100-249

Source: AccessNC

Business and Industry Clusters


Military - Carteret Economic Development

The military has a very significant impact on the economy of Carteret County and Eastern North Carolina. In fact, Fleet Readiness Center East (FRC East), located in Craven County aboard Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point (MCAS), has grown to become eastern North Carolina’s largest industrial employer and a key military asset. Cherry Point operations employs 8,587 military and 5,771 civilians…a total workforce of more than 14,000. During the Fiscal Year 2015, FRC East and MCAS Cherry Point salaries totaled were $1.215 billion. Contracts awarded to North Carolina companies reached more than $2.83 billion and have and estimated total economic impact for the state of over $2.01 billion.


FRC EAST and MCAS Cherry Point are the leading employers of Carteret County residents with 1,369 civilian employees and 557 active duty military employees. The county is home to 4,476 family members of active duty military, retired military and civilian employees. Active military and retired personnel, civilian employees and their families total 9,991 county residents, 14.5% of the County’s population.


In addition, nearby Camp Lejeune, located in Onslow County, has a complement of 43,410 active duty Marines, Army, Air Force, Coast Guard, and Navy personnel and over 6,000 civilians.

Military Corps Air Statin (MCAS), Cherry Point

MCAS - Carteret Economic Development

Congress authorized Marine Corps Air Station (MCAS) Cherry Point on July 9, 1941 with a primary World War II mission of training units and individual Marines for service in the Pacific theater. The air station also served as a base for anti-submarine operations, with an Army Air Corps and Navy unit each being responsible for the sinking of a German U-boat just off the North Carolina coast during 1943.


MCAS Cherry Point is known as one of the best all weather jet bases in the world. Its runway system is so large that the air station served as an alternate emergency landing site for space shuttle launches. The air station and its associated support locations occupy more than 29,000 acres in Craven County, just to the north of the Carteret County line. The 875-acre Marine Corps Auxiliary Landing Field Bogue, located along Bogue Sound in the western end of Carteret County, serves as the only East Coast site for Field Carrier Landing Practice.


Fleet Readiness Center East (FRC East)

Fleet Readiness - Carteret Economic Development

Fleet Readiness Center East also began operations during World War II as the Assembly and Repair Department at MCAS Cherry Point when it opened in 1943 to service Corsair fighters and Mitchell B-25 and Marauder B-26 bombers. Today FRC EAST’s Engineering and Product Support facility is one of three U.S. Navy depots under the Naval Air Systems Command, which is headquartered in Patuxent River, Maryland. This modern industrial complex employs civilians and defense contractors, in addition to military personnel, in a wide range of engineering, technical and administrative positions. The facility is the Department of Defense Vertical Lift Center of Excellence and continues to provide engineering, maintenance and logistics support on a variety of aircraft, engines and components for all branches of the United States Armed Forces.

Source: Command Analysis and Review Office, MCAS, Cherry Point.

ACT – Allies for Cherry Point’s Tomorrow

Allies for Cherry Point’s Tomorrow (ACT) advocates for the existence and success of Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point, Fleet Readiness Center East and its civilian enterprises.


United States Coast Guard Sector North Carolina Station Fort Macon

Coast Guard - Carteret Economic Development

In 1904, the Treasury Department received permission from the War Department to build a lifesaving station on the Fort Macon Military Reservation in Atlantic Beach, NC. The Lifesaving Service later combined with the Lighthouse Service to form the United States Coast Guard as it is known today.


USCG Station Fort Macon, still occupying the same 22.6 acres of land, serves as a training base for Search and Rescue cases and Law Enforcement situations when not actually involved in them. The training and everyday maintenance can vary drastically from maintaining boats, to assisting a vessel up to 50 nautical miles offshore in 30 foot seas and 50 knot winds.


Tourism - Carteret Economic Development

Crystal Coast tourism is a major component of the Carteret County economy creating more than 3,400 jobs with an annual payroll of $65.05 million in 2016. Tourism and travel in 2016 generated $351.67 million dollars in revenue, which is a 4.37% increase over 2015…placing the County in the top 13 in North Carolina.


The state and local tax revenues from travel and tourism amounted to $36.6 million and represented a $521.98 tax savings to each county resident.

Source: North Carolina Department of Commerce; Carteret County Finance Office

Marine Trades

Marine Trades - Carteret Economic Development

Carteret County, with a plethora of boat builders and manufacturers, marinas and docks, is home to one of the largest industrial clusters of marine related businesses on the East Coast. The boat building industry alone has an annual payroll of over $9.9 million.


North Carolina has traditionally ranked among the country’s top ten seafood-producing states. Nearly 1,623 commercial fishermen in Carteret County make their living from North Carolina’s coastal and estuarine waters. North Carolina fishermen follow state and federal regulations that sustain the fisheries of the rivers, sounds and oceans as a food source for people.

SectorAnnual Payroll
Ship and Boat Building$9,962,976
Scenic/Sightseeing Transportation, Water$501,582
Other Amusement & Recreation Industries (Marinas included) $11,866,663

Source: NC Emp. Security, NC and NC Div. of Marine Fisheries


Marine Science

Marine Science - Carteret Economic Development

The Duke University Marine Lab, the University of North Carolina Institute of Marine Sciences, the North Carolina State University Center for Marine Science and Technology (CMAST) and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Center for Coastal Fisheries and Habitat Research, anchors the marine science cluster in Carteret County. The four institutions have 162,645 sq. ft. of marine research facilities and 40 individual laboratories. Marine science in Carteret County accounts for over $58 million in revenue and over 500 employees.

The cluster provides a range of extensive capabilities and research services in the following areas:

  • Forecasting Ecological Effects and Resource Change

  • Climate and Pollution Impacts on Coastal Communities

  • Coastal and Marine Spatial Planning Science

  • Marine Geospatial Analysis

  • Marine Megafauna

  • Marine Ecology

North Carolina Center for Biotechnology and the new Marine Bio-Technologies Center of Innovation (MBCOI) together with the 24-member Marine Science Education Partnership (MSEP) and Carteret Community College’s Aquaculture Program will explore opportunities to develop new food, fuel and health products from the state’s rich Atlantic coast.

In addition, the North Carolina Maritime Museum and the North Carolina Aquarium at Pine Knoll Shores feature 117,000 sq. ft. of museum space and aquarium facilities that host over 405,000 visitors annually. The Queen Anne’s Revenge (Blackbeard’s infamous flagship recently recovered off Shackleford Banks) Exhibit is housed at the Maritime Museum while the 3,000 lb anchor of the ill-fated vessel has a new home at the QAR Conservation Lab at East Carolina University in Greenville, NC.

Source: Center for Competitive Economics – Kenan Institute, University of North Carolina

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