News & Rankings

Economic Development June Recap

MetLife Ribbon Cutting  


MetLife celebrated the grand opening of its World-Class Global Technology Campus in Cary. The technology campus brings together a wide array of technologies in a single hub to help drive digital innovation. Since breaking ground on the campus, MetLife has hired more than 1,000 employees and plans on meeting its goal of hiring 2,600 statewide employees by the end of 2015. Adrienne Cole and Michael Haley were in attendance at the grand opening to support all that MetLife has done and will continue to do for Wake County.

Municipal Updates 


Our new segment features submissions from our municipalities. Each month, our municipal partners will be given the opportunity to participate and share events and news in their communities. 



 Skvarla speaks at Wake Up Apex 

John E. Skvarla III, secretary of the North Carolina Department of Commerce, was the featured speaker at the "Wake Up Apex" event on June 4. Skvarla addressed issues such as the current legislative debate on JDIG (Jobs Development Investment Grant); his vision for revitalizing government buildings across the state; and a plan to make the NC Zoo in Asheboro a major tourist destination.


Apex & Holly Springs Host Business Expo

The Apex and Holly Springs Chambers of Commerce teamed up on June 11 to host a Business Expo. More than 75 businesses from across the growing Southwest Wake region joined together to market new products, services, and technology and to interact with top executives and business decision-makers.  


Peak City Pig Fest Held in Apex

The Fourth Annual "Peak City Pig Fest" was held June 20. The festival, which is the only Kansas City Barbeque Society sanctioned event in the Triangle, drew more than 15,000 visitors. Forty-eight professional cook teams from all over the country came to compete against each other for $10,000 in prize money by cooking chicken, ribs, beef brisket, and pork. 


Development of Nichols Plaza Continues

Construction continues at the new shopping center site on U.S. 64 West. Nichols Plaza will feature a 155,000-square-foot Costco, the second in Wake County. Multiple outparcels are also planned for restaurants and other retail businesses.



Plans for Downtown Cary's Development are Underway

Ted Boyd, downtown development manager for the Town of Cary, along with Kyle Greer, vice president of Economic Development, and Cary's governing bodies, have put together a development plan that will keep downtown Cary its charming self, while adapting to the new demand for active and vibrant downtown centers. The goal is to provide an area where Wake County residents and businesses can live, work, and play.  Boyd and Greer invited the staff of Wake County Economic Development on a walking tour of Downtown Cary in order to provide an on-site look at all the town has planned for the downtown area. 


The tour included a stop at The Cary, the town's own theatre that provides a unique setting for cinema and live performances. Cary has several ideas for the multi-functional space, including events and meetings. The second stop on the tour was Cary's new accelerator space spearheaded by angel investor David Gardner, who recently closed a $12 million investment round for his new venture. A block down from the accelerator space sits the 7-acre area that will be home to The Downtown Park. The park will feature a Town Square space, a large fountain, outdoor performance space and open lawn areas. The last stop was at Pharmacy Bottle and Beverage, a tap room that serves local beer and is pet friendly. 



Permit Issued for First Tenant in Hinton Oaks Business Park 

In May, Knightdale issued the building permit for Architectural Granite and Marble to construct a new 23,397-square-feet warehouse and showroom.  This will be the first tenant in the new Hinton Oaks Business Park. The Business Park owners are also in the process of securing building permits for a 120,000-square-feet shell building.  


Wake Forest  

Wake Forest Participates in Fellowship for Education Attainment

Marla Akridge, president of the Wake Forest Area Chamber of Commerce, will be participating in 2015/16 Fellowship for Education Attainment. This fellowship is for chamber executives and senior staff engaged in improving the cradle-to-career education pipeline in their communities. Participants will engage in facilitated education and workforce development discussions, have access to best practices, interact with national experts, and build a strong peer-to-peer network.  Throughout the year, they will be supported as they further develop and execute the specific educational attainment objectives in each participant's Regional Action Plan.

New & Expanding Companies  


Rex Healthcare | Raleigh | Healthcare | Expanding 

Rex Healthcare has reached 30 percent of its fundraising goal for the new N.C. Heart & Vascular Hospital coming out of the ground at its main campus in Raleigh. The $220 million project will bring all of Rex's cardiac care to one place. Rex, a subsidiary of UNC Health Care, performed 3,100 cardiovascular procedures in 2012, but provides those services in seven different areas on its campus. In some cases, patients must be wheeled nearly a half-mile across the campus to move through the process of care. Building the new heart tower will not only make things more comfortable to patients, but serve as a draw to cardiac physicians.


Triangle Springs | Raleigh | Healthcare | New

Springstone, a national chain of private hospitals that treats mental illness, filed plans to build Triangle Springs, a 43-bed psychiatric facility in Wake County. The proposed project would cost $15.8 million and to be complete in January 2018. It requires state approval through the NC Department of Health and Human Services.


Acorn Applications | Raleigh | Software/IT | Expanding

In 2013, Gordon Jones left the world of manufacturing and launched analytics software firm Acorn Applications, a firm that recently closed on a $500,000 equity infusion from a single institutional investor. The cloud-based software helps activate sites. He calls it a workflow platform to help pharmaceuticals and clinical research organizations get things moving quicker. Currently, Jones's team consists of five employees. The cash will fund the hire of another five.


Hilton Garden Inn Raleigh-Crabtree | Raleigh | Hospitality | New 

The new Hilton Garden Inn near Raleigh's Crabtree Valley Mall is now taking reservations and is expected to open in late June. The seven-story, 149-room hotel will include a full-service restaurant, The Garden Grille & Lounge, a 5,720-square foot ballroom, and a fitness center with heated pool.


Graybar | Raleigh | Distribution | Expanding 

Graybar, a national distribution and supply chain management company, announced Monday that its Raleigh branch has moved to a larger, updated facility. The company will now occupy a 50,080-square-foot space located at 211 South New Hope Road. The new branch features warehouse space, conference and training rooms, and more convenient access from I-495. Graybar's branch was previously located on Capital Boulevard in a 26,388-square-foot building. The new building is farther from downtown, but adds approximately 20,000 square feet of space for the company, which The company has roughly 40 local employees.


Schmalz | Raleigh | Advanced Manufacturing | Expanding 

Schmalz, a German vacuum technology manufacturer, has announced its expansion to a new six-acre campus on Oak Forest Drive. The new facility will allow the firm to grow to 100 employees in the next 10 years. Schmalz creates automation equipment used in manufacturing, such as clamps and suction devices. Its gripping technology can be found in industrial manufacturing in several verticals, including automotive. The growth the firm is experiencing is due to a resurgence of manufacturing. The jobs coming to the company over the next few years will range from engineering to project management to warehouse and sales. The new space, which requires a $7 million investment in its first phase, will allow more room for testing and assembly of automation systems, as well as contain a dedicated customer show room, training rooms, and increased office space.


KnowledgeTree | Raleigh | Software/IT | Expanding 

Raleigh-based software outfit KnowledgeTree has moved into the Nehi Bottling Company building in downtown Raleigh. The company has 24 employees, up from the 21 it reported in December, when it announced it had seen top-line revenue double from quarter to quarter in 2014. KnowledgeTree has received nearly $8 million in venture backing from the likes of River Cities Capital Funds, Core Capital Partners, Hasso Plattner Ventures, and Hatteras Funds.


Intelligent Office | Raleigh | Shared Office | New

Intelligent Office, the Colorado-based shared office and executive suites company, is expanding into North Carolina with its first location coming to downtown Raleigh. Intelligent Office, l rents executive suite offices to business professionals, entrepreneurs, and consultants who only need a small amount of office space for work. Owner Michael Johnson will have on staff during all business hours at least three administrative assistants who can answer client phones, manage client calendars, and even assist with inputting data for intake forms and expense reports. As the business grows, he says he has space for up to eight assistants.


Proto Labs, Inc. | Cary | Advanced Manufacturing | Expanding 

3-D printing company Proto Labs is expanding in Wake County, pledging to create 170 new jobs over the next five years. In return for the $25 million investment, the project receives a performance-based grant from the One North Carolina Fund of up to $150,000. "Since the launch of 3-D printing at Proto Labs, we've increased our capabilities here in the U.S. and we've also introduced our additive manufacturing services to Europe," says Rob Connelly, vice president of additive manufacturing. He calls the North Carolina facility a "critical driver" in advancing 3-D printing across the globe.


Four Oaks Bank | Apex | Financial Services | Expanding

Four Oaks Bank now has a presence in Apex. The branch, which will serve as a Loan Production Office, held a grand opening on June 24. 


Bateman Civil Survey Company | Apex | Engineering | New 

The Bateman Civil Survey Company, a leader in providing surveying, construction, environmental, and engineering consultation services to North Carolina and throughout the East Coast, moved its local offices to Apex. The company employs approximately 40 people.


Distil Networks | Raleigh | Software/IT | Expanding

Security software firm Distil Networks has closed a $21 million round of funding and plans to use part of the cash to bulk up its Raleigh operation. It will move into the 107 Fayetteville space, the new entrepreneurial hub, which has the capacity to double their current operations from 12 to 24 employees.

New & Expanding Metrics Since January 2015 


Jan. --  June 2015

New & Expanding Company Announcements





$390 million


Since the beginning of 2015, 44 companies have announced relocations or expansions in Wake County. This accounts for the creation of 1,123 new jobs and investments of more than $390 million. Of those announcements, 27 (62 percent) are in Wake County Economic Development's cluster industries.

Project Metrics Since January 2015 

Total Projects Received Since Jan. 2015 


Potential Jobs


Potential Investment

$4.05 billion

Client Visits


Active Projects


Potential Jobs
Potential Investment
$3.2 billion

 Since Jan. 1, 2015, Wake County Economic Development has received 42 new projects from companies considering relocations or expansions in Wake County. These projects would total 12,836 new jobs and more than $4.05 billion of investment if each were to successfully locate in Wake County. WCED has also hosted 11 client visits to the area. Currently, Wake County Economic Development is working on 43 active projects. These projects would total 8,127 new jobs and more than $3.2 billion of investment if each were to decide to locate in Wake County.

Recent News & Events  


Wake County Economic Development Announces Staff Promotion 

Ashley Rogers has been promoted to research manager for Wake County Economic Development. In her new role, Ashley will lead the economic development research and analysis efforts for WCED. "During her time with WCED, Ashley has illustrated a can do attitude, willingness to take on all assignments, and a personal drive for success that will serve our organization and community well," said Michael Haley, director of Business Recruitment and Expansion. Ashley began her new role on June 15. 

Business Attraction & Target Industry Clusters 

Merz North America Announces the Official Opening of Its 

New Headquarters in Raleigh 

Merz North America (U.S. affiliate of the global Merz Pharma Group)announced the official opening of its new headquarters at 6501 Six Forks Road in Raleigh. Gov. Pat McCrory and Raleigh Mayor Nancy McFarlane were present at the June 4 event to officiate the ribbon cutting ceremony and officially welcome Merz to the Triangle business community. Merz's move to Raleigh brings more than 200 jobs, including the creation of more than 50 new positions. 

Merz North America, Inc. is a privately-held specialty pharmaceutical company with a strong focus in the areas of aesthetics, dermatology, and neurosciences. Currently, Merz employs more than 900 employees across all divisions in North America, with nearly one-third of its U.S. employees based in North Carolina. Merz's new headquarters in Raleigh has nearly 60,000 square feet of dedicated office space and includes room for future growth.

Wake County Economic Development Site Assessment 

Program Update 

WCED has launched a site assessment program in response to the need among local communities for assistance with product development. As part of the program, WCED issued a request for information in February for sites within the county that are 11 acres or larger. The response was tremendous. Between our 12 municipalities and the Research Triangle Park, 56 sites were submitted equaling 4,619 acres of property. Since that time, a second, more detailed, request for information has been issued to gather a better understanding of the strengths and weaknesses for each property. That information will be reviewed by WCED staff and industry professionals to make recommendations on next steps for these sites. The goal of the review and recommendations is to work alongside the communities to have client-ready product. An advisory committee has been engaged to steer the efforts of this program.  

Research Triangle CleanTech Cluster Debuts Metrics Dashboard

Research Triangle Region cleantech jobs, patents, capital investments, and venture funding are among the economic impacts tracked by a new interactive metrics dashboard created for the Research Triangle Cleantech Cluster. The dashboard,  available here, contains the latest data available on measures RTCC members consider critical: cleantech employment, workforce share, capital investments, patents, and venture funding. 

Google Fiber Breaks Ground in the Triangle

Google Fiber broke ground in Morrisville in June 26. Google Fiber's Erik Garr, the lead on Google's expansion of the high-speed service in the Triangle, stated that they choose Morrisville because the central location made it easy to extend the network. He also said to expect to see crews to across the Triangle through June and July installing fiber.

Your Input Needed: Work-Based Learning and Skilled 

Trade Surveys

The Capital Area Workforce Development Board needs your help with two surveys. The first gauges the interest of local area employers per their current work-based learning activities and future interests, and the second validates large data sets per talent recruitment, retention, and skills gaps issues and concerns of targeted skilled trade businesses.

Talent Attraction & Development 

Wake County Economic Development Attends BIO 2015

BIO covers the wide spectrum of life science innovations and application areas. Drug discovery, biomanufacturing, genomics, biofuels, nanotechnology and cell therapy are just a few of the industries represented at the BIO International Convention. The Wake County delegation consisted of: Ashley Cagle (WCED), James Sauls (Raleigh), Joanna Helms (Apex), Jenny Mizelle (Holly Springs), Joe Stallings (Garner), and John Hodges (Garner). Wake County and the City of Raleigh partnered to sponsor a booth in the North Carolina Pavilion. Over the course of three days, the Wake County delegation interacted with attendees including company representatives, industry professionals, economic development professionals, economic development allies, and job seekers. The team also gave presentations on the success of the life science cluster in Wake County, including: Why Novartis Vaccines Chose Holly Springs, NC, Choosing Garner, NC for your Next Life Sciences Locations, and Work in the Triangle.  

Additionally WCED and City of Raleigh partnered to exhibit at the career fair during Bio. By highlighting the Work in the Triangle initiative, the team spoke to hundreds of job seekers about why the Greater Raleigh area is a destination location for life science professionals. WCED used two twitter platforms, @worktriangleNC and @raleighwake, to promote the efforts.

WCED coordinated a marketing campaign and reached out to national and trade media outlets attending BIO 2015 to connect them with companies in Wake County. The team was able to create multiple media opportunities which may result in media coverage:

  • "Pharmaceutical Commerce" connected with Quintiles, Fujifilm Diosynth, and GlaxoSmithKline 
  • "NPR Biotech Nation" connected with Liquidia Technologies  G1 Therapeutics
  • "Biocentry Innovations" connected with GlaxoSmithKline


Marketing & Public Relations 

enerG Magazine Publishes Story on Wake Forest 

Cleantech Innovation 

"enerG Magazine" published "Solar on the front porch of North Carolina's Wake Electric." The article featuresWake Forest-based Wake Electric and how it has incorporated new solar structures developed by Spotlight Solar and installed by PowerSecure (both also based in Wake Forest). The story touts Wake Electric as embracing solar as part of its energy portfolio, and how the Spotlight Solar structures will help offset energy requirements for three electric vehicle chargers at the new facility. "enerG Magazine" covers the latest in alternative energy in North America. The magazine focuses on the move from traditional energy to alternative energy, with in-depth feature coverage on new alternative energy projects. The outlet reaches 25,000 unique monthly visitors.

Smart Growth America highlights Raleigh Companies in Report

Smart Growth America recently released a report, "Core Values: Why American Companies are Moving Downtown." In this report they surveyed nearly 500 companies and interviewed 40 companies to gain a better understanding of the emerging trend of companies relocating into downtown centers. The report took a special interest into downtown Raleigh, because of the recent downtown growth. They interviewed five companies that have recently relocated in downtown Raleigh: American Underground, Citrix, Evaluserve, Ipreo and Red Hat. 

The research showed that six overall factors come into play when companies choose to relocate downtown, all of which downtown Raleigh has to offer.  

  1. Build brand identity and company culture
  2. Support creative collaboration
  3. Be closer to customers and business partners
  4. Centralize operations
  5. Support triple-bottom-line business outcomes

Recent Rankings   


NC awarded "Silver Shovel" Award

Area Development's annual Gold and Silver Shovel Awards recognize states for their achievements in attracting high value investment projects that will create a significant number of new jobs in their communities. North Carolina was awarded the Silver Shovel award due to its attraction of high value investment projects and its reputation as one of the most business-friendly places in the country. The Wake County projects that were noted for the award included HCL America and Advanced Auto Parts. HCL America plans to add more than 1,200 jobs in the state.

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

Wake County Labor Market Statistics  


Labor Force & Employment


Since April 2014, Wake County's labor force has increased by 24,034 and employment has increased by 25,651. This represents growth of 4.75percent and 5.3 percent, respectively. The number of those unemployed----displayed in the graph above as the differential of labor force and employment----has fallen by 6.8 percent.    

Unemployment Rate


Wake County's unemployment rate (the proportion of those unemployed relative to the labor force) has fallen from 4.7 percent in April 2014 to 4.2 percent in April 2015. This represents a 0.5 percent decrease.


There are no comments yet.

Leave a Comment