By: Michael Haley
Executive Director of Wake County Economic Development
Senior Vice President, Greater Raleigh Chamber of Commerce
This past week Forbes released its rankings of The Best Places for Business and Careers 2018. This year the Raleigh metro ranked as the #2 Best Place for Business and Careers – for the third straight year. Forbes notes that the Raleigh metro “has been the most consistent performer in the annual Best Places study, finishing in the top three each of the past 16 years.”
Over the past two decades Forbes has tracked the business climates of the nation’s largest metros. The metros are compared on 14 metrics related to jobs, incomes and economic growth; business and living costs; as well as education levels. Other factors included migration; culture and leisure opportunities; and workplace tolerance laws. When reading why the Raleigh metro ranked so consistently high over the past 16 years, it is easy to understand why. Forbes points to three reasons: top talent, a diverse higher education ecosystem, and great business climate.
Talent, talent, talent. That is what our community is known for. Nearly 50% of people in Wake County have a Bachelor’s degree or more. Our community continues to be an attractive location for diverse highly skilled and educated people. Every day we are growing by 63 people, which translates to 20 people born here and 43 move here. Of those 43 people, 12 are moving from another county in North Carolina… Amazing!
Diverse Higher Education Ecosystem
One cannot even discuss the Raleigh metro or the region without first talking about higher education. As I like to tell people, education is so important to us that it’s literally in our name – the Research Triangle region. With over 176,000 people enrolled in higher education in our region and over 46,600 graduates each year, this is certainly one of the most educated communities in the nation. We have an amazing array of universities and colleges locally—truly an asset to our region—NC State University, UNC Chapel Hill, and Duke University are our three Tier 1 research universities. But we also have the largest community college in all of North Carolina, Wake Technical Community College with 74,000 student at six campuses across the county. Plus Campbell University, William Peace University, and Meredith College and three HBCU’s Shaw University, St. Augustine’s University, and NC Central University.
While the numbers show that we have a diverse economy, there are significant concentrations in a few key industries — Technology; Life Sciences; Advanced Manufacturing; and Cleantech. The primary drivers are an impressive supply of well-educated and innovative people, and a strong collaborative environment between academia, government, and industry. Forbes also points out that business costs in the Raleigh metro are 14% below the national average.
These key attributes—talent, diverse higher education ecosystem, and strong business climate—confirm and reinforce why Wake County is on an upward trajectory when it comes to jobs, investment, talent, entrepreneurship, economic mobility, innovation, and quality of life.
Want to learn more about how the Raleigh metro compares to other US metros? Check out our Metro Comparison study. We are recognized as the Most Competitive metro in this too.