Ernest C. Pearson: Lawyer with Nexsen Pruet, LLC

Ernest C. Pearson

Raleigh,  NC  U.S.A.

Peer Rating
AV® Preeminent

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Experience & Credentials Ratings & Reviews

Practice Areas

  • International Business Transactions
  • Legislative & Regulatory
  • Public Policy & Governmental Affairs
  • Economic Development
  • Financial Services
  • Agribusiness
  • Manufacturing
  • Public Sector and Government
  • Real Estate
University Clemson University; North Carolina State University, B.A., with honors, 1972
Law SchoolUniversity of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, J.D., 1975
AdmittedNorth Carolina; US Supreme Court; 4th US Circuit Court of Appeals; Federal District Court for Eastern District of NC

Civic & Professional Memberships

North Carolina Economic Development Association (NCEDA), President, 2015


Ernie Pearson believes that experience, hard work and creative approaches lead to the best results for clients faced with new challenges and opportunities. Throughout his career, he has depended upon these foundations in building what has been rated by third party sources as one of the most successful economic development practices in the country. Best Lawyers in America listed Ernie as one of only 28 lawyers in the country in the category of Economic Development in 2013 and one of 33 in 2014. Southern Business and Development magazine has chosen him for several years as one of the top economic development lawyers in 18 southern states.

Helping Businesses and Communities Grow and Thrive

Ernie has unparalleled experience in economic development matters. As Assistant Secretary for Economic Development during one of North Carolina's most successful periods of economic growth, he worked with scores of economic development projects and understands matters from that perspective. Having worked for over one hundred companies in site selection and incentive negotiation projects he has seen the process from that side and understands the company's point of view. His work with numerous local and regional economic development programs gives him an understanding of economic development from that side of the table.

That in-depth, varied experience makes it possible for Ernie to craft creative and successful solutions for companies expanding existing or locating new facilities that take into account all site selection needs and maximize incentive support. This experience also benefits local and regional economic development efforts by leading them to creative cost effective approaches to economic development successes.

Ernie's previous work in a broad range of legal disciplines includes corporate, real estate, employment and labor law, environmental, litigation and regulatory matters. This broad experience coupled with his focused experience in economic development matters allows him to understand and coordinate all legal issues connected with a company's siting of a new or expanded facility, and to provide continuing assistance to a company on legal matters after a new site is chosen.

Experience, hard work and creativity equals client success.


•Listed in Best Lawyers for Economic Development Law - In 2013, he is one of two NC attorneys to be listed and one of 28 nationally, and one of 33 in 2014.
•North Carolina Department of Transportation - Director of Special Projects (1975-1977)
•North Carolina Industrial Commission - Chairman (1987-1989)
•North Carolina Department of Commerce - Assistant Secretary of Economic Development (1989-1993)
•Recipient of Order of the Long Leaf Pine
•Founder of Sanford Holshouser Economic Development Consulting
•Recipient of U.S. Army Meritorious Service Medal and Army Commendation Medal
•Board Member, NC State Board of Community Colleges ( See a photo from the swearing in ceremony )
•President - Board of Directors for the North Carolina State University School of Physical and Mathematical Sciences Foundation
•Advisory Board - Fuquay School of Business Center for International Education and Research
•Member of Town Board of Commissioners for Holly Springs, N.C.
•Board - N. C. Economic Developers Association, Vice President 2014-15 and President-Elect 2015-16
•Board - Triangle Growth Strategies, Inc.
•Vice Chairman - Wake County Economic Development Commission
•Recipient of NC Economic Developers Association's President's Award for representation of Association before the NC Supreme Court in Maready v. Forsythe County, landmark lawsuit over recruitment incentives
•Selected by Southern Business & Development magazine in Spring of 2008 issue as one of the top thirteen economic development lawyers in eighteen southern states
•Only firm listed for both North and South Carolina in Southern Business & Development magazine's 2009 Trade Allies Directory

Speaking & Writing

Related News
Statement Regarding the Death of Former Gov. Jim Holshouser
June 17, 2013
“Raleigh law firms beefing up economic development teams”
January 21, 2014
North Carolina Economic Developers Association (NCEDA) Announces 2014-2015 Board Of Directors
July 21, 2014
North Carolina Economic Developers Association (NCEDA) Announces 2015-2016 Board of Directors
June 22, 2015
Lawmakers must address incentives, tax issue
August 6, 2015
N.C. recruiters fight to the end to save state incentives
August 11, 2015
Conservative NC lawmaker argues against death penalty
September 29, 2015
Economic Development Seminar
November 6, 2015
Ernie Pearson: Look at entire N.C. development picture
November 6, 2015

Related Insights
Entrepreneurial Growth and Recruitment Strategy: An Economic Development Formula for Success
July 21, 2014
Going Multijurisdictional - Laying the groundwork for shared business parks
November 5, 2014



Ernie wrote an op-ed that Raleigh's The News and Observer published on November 5, 2015 entitled Look at entire N.C. development picture.

In December 2015, The Associated Press called on Ernie in reporting on a megadeal that lured a Danish drug company to the state.”

North Carolina Economic Development Association (NCEDA) President's Message:
•2015: June, July, August, September, October, November, December

Legal Authority for Multi-Jurisdictional Industrial Park Projects: PDF Version

•Panel member in November 2014 for UNC School of Law Entertainment and Sports Law Association, discussing film industry incentives.
•Panel member in December 2014 for Leadership North Carolina, discussing the site selection process for Horsehead Corporation and their $600 million facility in Rutherford County, NC.
•Ernie presented at the Nexsen Pruet Economic Development Seminar: NC vs. SC on November 6, 2015 on the topics of NC State Incentives and the Status of the Transition of Economic Development Programs from the Commerce Department to the Economic Development Partnership of NC.
•Ernie spoke about state and local business recruitment incentives to a MPA Intergovernmental Relations Seminar Class at UNC-Chapel Hill, November 2015.

Outside Nexsen Pruet

Ernie's life outside of Nexsen Pruet is filled with family, a love of traveling, and faith activities.

He enjoys nothing more than time with his wife and whatever activities he can pursue with his five children. That might just be time at home or taking advantage of local activities. But he particularly enjoys traveling to different places in the US and abroad.

Ernie also allocates a significant amount of time in activities to which he is called by his faith. For over 12 years he has co-led a bible study class at Harnett Correctional Institute. He serves on the Board of Directors of Disciple Bible Outreach Ministries - NC, Inc. which promotes prison bible study in NC, and Disciple Bible Outreach Ministries - National, Inc. which is expanding the North Carolina model for bible study to other states around the country. When time allows he enjoys working with home improvement ministries.

He commented, “I am extraordinarily blessed to be fulfilled and happy at the same time in my professional, family and faith lives. Who could ask for more?”

Reported CasesNotable: The June 27, 2014 edition of The Triangle Business Journal featured a profile of Joanna Helms, Economic Development Director for the Town of Apex. In it, Helms noted that Ernie as one of the Triangle businesspeople that she admires most.

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Office Information

Ernest C. Pearson

4141 Parklake Avenue, Suite 200
RaleighNC 27612


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