News & Rankings

Economic Development December Recap

Municipal Updates


Apex Passes Transportation Bond Referendum 
In the recent November election, a Transportation Bond Referendum was passed for the Town of Apex. The $15 million bond will go toward the completion of the Apex Peakway, resurfacing roads and the building/extending of sidewalks and intersections. The improvements made by the bond are expected to help with traffic congestion as well as improve the movement of business in and around town.

Town Manager Bruce Radford Retires 
Town of Apex longtime town manager, Bruce Radford, retired after 32 years in local government, 14 of which were with Apex. Radford leaves behind an accomplished legacy and was instrumental in Apex being named "# 1 Best Place to Live in America" in 2015. During his tenure with the town, he also instituted the first paid fire department. Assistant Town Manager Drew Havens has been appointed interim town manager and Public Works Director Tim Donnelly has been appointed interim assistant town manager.


Fuquay-Varina Announces New Town Brand, "A Dash More"
The new Fuquay-Varina town brand was revealed to the public on Dec. 1, 2015. Over the past few months, the Town of Fuquay-Varina has been working with brand consultant Clean Design, based in Raleigh, to develop a new logo and brand that offers citizens and businesses the opportunity to connect with all the desirable traits that make Fuquay-Varina distinct and unique.

Innovate Fuquay-Varina
Innovate Fuquay-Varina, a 6-month initiative designed to foster and nurture innovation and small business development in Fuquay-Varina, features a series of monthly participant-only supporting events leading up to "InnovateFV Weekend" on Jan. 8 - 10, 2016. Inspired by a global entrepreneurial movement called "Startup Weekend," Innovate Fuquay-Varina plans to build upon and enhance the concept to produce long-term entrepreneurial success for startups in Fuquay-Varina. Follow the conversation on Twitter using #InnovateFV. 


Garner Holds Workforce Development Roundtable 
The Town of Garner held a workforce development roundtable on Dec. 10 at the White Deer Park Nature Center. Members from NC State University, Wake Tech Community College, Wake County Economic Development, Capital Area Workforce Development Board, and Garner Magnet High School met with three companies to discuss how they can better work together to source talent for their growing businesses.


Business Expands in Knightdale 
C.H. Wells, CPA recently relocated to a larger space at 7048 Knightdale Blvd. Suite 102. The larger space will allow the firm to continue servicing its existing clients as well as welcome new clientele as the community grows. The firm's principal was committed to staying in Knightdale when considering expansion due to proximity to clients and a great business climate. 

Hampton Inn Breaks Ground
Site work has begun on a new four-story, 110 room Hampton Inn & Suites directly behind Target on Hinton Oaks Blvd. The new hotel will feature a conference facility and indoor swimming pool.


Morrisville Chamber's Annual Meeting Features Bob Geolas
The Morrisville Chamber's 25th Annual Meeting will feature Bob Geolas with the Research Triangle Park. The meeting provides an opportunity for top businesses and community leaders to gather and celebrate the accomplishments of the Morrisville Chamber, business, and volunteers. The meeting will take place on Jan. 29 from 11:30 am - 1:30 p.m. More information can be found here

Morrisville Hosts Commerce Update with Secretary John Skvarla 
The North Carolina Department of Commerce is the state's lead agency for economic, community, and workforce development. The department works with local, regional, national, and international organizations to fulfill its mission to improve the economic well-being and quality of life for all North Carolinians. On Feb. 4, Secretary John Skvarla will provide an in-depth look at the issues and opportunities facing his department, our local community, and North Carolina. For more information, click here

New & Expanding Companies

Homewood Suites by Hilton | Cary | Hospitality | New
A Cary hotel development and management company is purchasing a 2.6-acre site overlooking Interstate 40 at Crossroads Boulevard in Cary with plans to build a new six-story Homewood Suites by Hilton in 2016. Construction is expected to start in spring 2016 with the hotel opening projected for summer 2017.

Mohu | Raleigh | Software/IT | Expanding 
Mohu, makers of the Leaf antenna, has unveiled BeBox, a portable audio system that, according to execs, rivals what’s being offered at Sonos and Bose. As the product suite grows, so does Mohu’s workforce. The company, which recently added a second shift to its Raleigh team, has about 100 employees. One year ago, it had 55. The company is headquartered in north Raleigh.

Trophy Brewing Company | Raleigh | Brewery | Expanding
Trophy Brewing Co. opened its production brewery and taproom on Maywood Avenue near the State Farmers Market on the south side of downtown Raleigh. The taproom will have 12 beers on draft, counter pressure filled growlers, a cask engine, and occasional bottle releases. The production brewery features a 20-barrel, three-vessel brewing system. Additionally, the location will start with enough fermentation and conditioning tanks to handle up to 240 barrels (7,440 gallons) of beer at any one time before packaging or kegging. The location will start with distribution to a limited number of restaurants and bars initially, and then expand as it grows.

New & Expanding Metrics Since Jan. 2015

  Jan. – Dec. 2015
New & Expanding Company Announcements 106
   Jobs 4,628
   Investment $445 million


Since the beginning of 2015, 88 companies have announced relocations or expansions in Wake County. This accounts for the creation of 2,829 new jobs and investments of more than $445 million. Of those announcements, 58 (54 percent) are in Wake County Economic Development's cluster industries.

Project Metrics

Total Projects Received Since Jan. 2015 103
   Potential Jobs 25,789
   Potential Investment $6 billion
Client Visits 31
Active Projects 46
   Potential Jobs 8,214
   Potential Investment $2 billion

Recent News and Events: 

Business Recruitment & Retention

WCED Site Assessment Update 
The first year of WCED's Site Assessment Program has come to an end. Over the course of the year, WCED evaluated approximately 5,000 acres of land with the potential for industrial development. Tier 1 sites received their Pathways documents, compiled internally by the WCED team, and Tier 2 sites received feedback from teams comprised of EDGE investors. The Site Assessment Program kicked off again on Jan. 11. The kickoff event for the 2016 year will be held on Feb. 25.   

Metropolitan Cost Comparisons 
In September, WCED met with Ted Abernathy of Economic Leadership to discuss the Metro Cost Comparisons Project. The team provided a list of top competitors and areas of focus so that WCED could better understand how the region stacks up against other regions across the country. By focusing on quantitative analysis, WCED hopes to identify the region's strengths and weaknesses, and how to better position Wake County in order to remain a strong competitor for projects. The final results of the study are expected in February.

Software/IT Taxonomy 
WCED has partnered with RTI in order to understand the county's position in the IT sector. RTI will assess industry trends and provide a final report detailing the study's findings. The study plans to accomplish the following: 

  1. Conduct an industry analysis to understand macro trends over time in the IT sector in Wake County and in the United States
  2. Identify trends in sub-sectors, including: Analytics, Health, & Financial Technology. Additional data will look at Internet of Things and Defense Technology.
  3. Compare Wake County's IT sector with three to five peer regions
  4. Identify key local companies in IT and identified sectors
  5. Analyze start up/entrepreneur trends 
  6. Develop final report with charts, graphs, and figures that can easily relay the local dynamics of the IT sector 

Talent Attraction & Development 

WCED Tours Vernon Malone College and Career Academy   
The Vernon Malone College and Career Academy is a collaborative Career and Technical Education endeavor between the Wake County Public School System, Wake Technical Community College, and Wake County Government. Students in grades 10-12 learn through work-based learning in one of 10 Career and Technical Education career paths including: biopharmaceutical technology, collision repair, cosmetology, facilities technology, geomatics technology, nurse aide, simulation and game development, and welding. To ensure student learning and success, the programs are designed to be taught through heavily relevant, hands-on instruction; called "project-based learning." To support this method, Vernon Malone employs a Project-Based Learning coach and all staff is trained on project-based learning. All teachers and student collaborate to develop integrated projects that align with the 10 programs offered at the school. The collaborative nature of PBL also facilitates soft skills training into the core of all academics at the school including working in groups, project management, and oral and written communication skills. The Career and Technical Education provided by Vernon Malone is an important component to ensuring that Wake County has a solid talent pipeline for existing and future industry.

Marketing & Public Relations 

Forbes Contributor Series: "5 Big Entrepreneurial Developments in North Carolina in 2015"   
Forbes published "5 Big Entrepreneurial Developments in North Carolina in 2015" by Council for Entrepreneurial Development President Joan Siefert-Rose. The article provides a high-level recap of the Triangle's impressive year as a rapidly growing startup hub. A few of the highlights include: 

  • The success of the Raleigh Innovator's Program and its 12 internal and external teams, bridging the gap between the startup and corporate communities. 
  • 17 mergers and acquisitions, including Bronto Software and NetSuite ($200 million) and Sprout Pharmaceuticals and Valeant Pharmaceuticals ($1 billion). 
  • Four angel funds established in the Triangle since the Great Recession. Also, Duke University launched its own angel network, connecting alumni with deals-and the University of North Carolina and NC State University are planning similarly themed networks. CED has found that, in addition to these organized funds, individual "undisclosed" investors have put more than $50 million into early stage companies in the region so far this year.

The contributor piece notes that as we look to 2016, the Triangle is expected to experience continued success and attract additional national recognition, investment, and talent. This Forbes contributor opportunity is a result of Wake County Economic Development and the City of Raleigh office of economic development's national storytelling campaign. The goal of the series is to showcase Raleigh, Wake County, and the Triangle's thriving startup scene. 

WRAL TechWire Publishes "Outside RTP and Downtown Raleigh, Innovation Still Occurs in Wake County"

Cities and towns across the Triangle have designed and launched initiatives to support, spur, and house local entrepreneurs, supplementing the entire ecosystem as it continues to grow and develop into a robust innovation center in the Southeast and in the nation. The Town of Cary, for example, supports two initiatives: the Cary Innovation Center and CoFounder's Lab. HOTTovation, a program run by the Morrisville Innovation Foundation, began in Morrisville in 2013. Read the full articlehere

WCED Launches Tumblr Page

Wake County Economic Development launched its official Tumblr page in November. The site will be used to promote the area to a younger talent demographic and utilize the site's visual appeal to market the county's assets. To view the page, click here

Entrepreneurship & Innovation

As The Year Comes to a Close Startups Announce Big Funding Numbers
This year has been a successful year for startups and entrepreneurs in North Carolina and the Triangle Region. In Q1 and Q2 alone, 85 entrepreneurial companies raised nearly $427 million in North Carolina. As the year comes to a close and funding rounds close, it's becoming even more evident just how successful startups and early stage companies are doing here. Within 24 hours, on Dec. 1 and 2, four companies announced raising big dollars. Read more here.  

Since Jan. 1, 2015, Wake County Economic Development has received 103 new projects from companies considering relocations or expansions in Wake County. These projects would total 25,789 new jobs and approximately $6.0 billion of investment if each were to successfully locate in Wake County. WCED has also hosted 31 client visits to the area. Currently, Wake County Economic Development is working on 46 active projects. These projects would total 8,214 new jobs and approximately $2.0 billion of investment if each were to decide to locate in Wake County. 

Recent Rankings:  

For a full list of rankings, please download the Raleigh/Wake County Rankings Flyer.

  • #2 Easiest City to Find a Job | Raleigh, NC | Forbes | December 2015
  • #6 Best Performing City | Raleigh, NC | Milken Institute | December

Wake County Labor Market Statistics: 


Labor Force & Employment


Employment Rate Nov 2015 

Since November 2014, Wake County’s labor force has increased by 29,214 and employment has increased by 26,720. This represents growth of 5.8 and 5.5 percent, respectively.

Unemployment Rate

 Unemployment Rate Nov 2015

Wake County's unemployment rate (the proportion of those unemployed relative to the labor force) has increased from 4.2 percent in November 2014 to 4.5 percent in November 2015. This represents a 0.3 percent increase.  


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