DURHAM, N.C. -- Several business insiders and economists gathered Wednesday for the 2018 North Carolina Economic Forecast Forum.

One topic tackled what North Carolina can do to attract more big businesses. Capital Tonight Anchor Tim Boyum moderated while panelists discussed the state's strengths and challenges when recruiting the “Big Fish.”

Panelists praised the state for its ability to attract residents with universities and the reasonable cost of living.

“When you think about the educated work force and the engagement of the workforce...that's what really sets us apart,” said Susan Springfield, Executive Vice President and Chief Credit Officer of First Tennessee Bank and Capital Bank.

“Tax structure, coming from California, is better,” said Andy White, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Trilliant.

North Carolina is already in the running to land Amazon's second headquarters and a Toyota-Mazda plant. But economists said there's still more that needs to be done to make the state be seen and heard.

“Brand awareness. How are people ever going to pick us and know our business advantages if they don't even know where we are on a map?” asked Christopher Chung, Chief Executive Office of Economic Development Partnership of North Carolina.

The panel said another challenge is that the metropolitan areas seem to recruit the businesses. They say it's important not to forget the rural community.

“As we bring along and continue to see the great growth in our cities, that we're really, really focused on what additional we can do in our rural areas,” added Springfield.

Spectrum News was a sponsor of Wednesday's forum.