News & Rankings

Economic Development March 2016 Recap

Recent Announcements

2016 Economic Development Forum
The 2016 Economic Development Forum featured Jeff Hoffman, co-founder of, serial entrepreneur, and advisor to the State Department, United Nations, and White House on economic growth initiatives focused on entrepreneurship and innovation. Hoffman provided a global perspective on why it's important to foster and support entrepreneurial ecosystems and offered a framework for Raleigh, Wake County, and the Triangle to spur even more startups, entrepreneurs, innovators, and new jobs. The event drew more than 200 business and community leaders, entrepreneurs, and investors. To view Hoffman's keynote, watch the video here.

Data4Decisions Takes Place at Raleigh Convention Center
Wake County Economic Development attended the 2016 Data4Decisions Conference & Exposition on March 22 -24 at the Raleigh Convention Center. The conference is centered on the idea that smarter use of data will help businesses make smarter decisions. The event highlighted Raleigh, Wake County, and the Triangle region as a top data analytics thought leader.

The COME TECH OUT the Triangle Job Fair was co-located at the Data4Decisions Conference on March 23. WCED's Work in the Triangle talent initiative hosted the job fair, along with NCTA and CED. The job fair connected employers with the region's top tech talent. Wake County's major employers present at the event looked to recruit more than 1,000 jobs.

New & Expanding Companies

Microsoft | Morrisville | Software/IT | New 
Technology giant Microsoft has signed an 11-year lease contract at Perimeter Park to relocate its longtime Durham district office from an office park on Creekstone Drive to brand new space on the second floor of the new Perimeter Four office building. Microsoft is targeting its move-in to the new space around November, taking a total of 39,257 square feet in the building.

LexisNexis | Raleigh | Software/IT | Expanding  
LexisNexis Legal & Professional has added 46 employees since the beginning of the year and anticipates adding about 150 more throughout 2016 as it creates new jobs and shifts jobs from elsewhere. "The growth here in Raleigh ... is accelerating," said Michael Lipps, managing director of the company's legal software solutions division, which is headquartered in Raleigh. LexisNexis currently has 475 employees in Raleigh.

Valencell | Raleigh | Software/IT | Expanding  
Sensor developer Valencell is planning to grow its north Raleigh headcount. The firm, which has more than 30 employees and recently raised $11 million in new equity financing, plans to hire an additional 10 people during 2016.

New & Expanding Metrics Since Jan. 2016

  Jan. 2016
New & Expanding Company Announcements 7
   Jobs 210
   Investment $19.5 million


Since the beginning of 2016, seven companies have announced relocations or expansions in Wake County, accounting for 210 new jobs and $19.5 million of investment.

Project Metrics

Total Projects Received Since Jan. 2016 26
   Potential Jobs 4,416
   Potential Investment $468 million
Client Visits 10
Active Projects 42
   Potential Jobs 8,509
   Potential Investment $1.3 billion


Since Jan. 1, 2016, Wake County Economic Development has received 15 new projects from companies considering relocations or expansions in Wake County. These projects would total 1,986 new jobs and approximately $132 million of investment if each were to successfully locate in Wake County. WCED has also hosted 10 client visits to the area. Currently, Wake County Economic Development is working on 42 active projects. These projects would total 8,509 new jobs and approximately $1.3 billion of investment if each were to decide to locate in Wake County. 

Recent News and Events 

Business Recruitment & Retention

WCED Site Assessment Update
The 2016 Site Assessment Program is well underway. Municipal economic developers have completed a 30-question RFI that answered questions on site utilities, transportation, and site characteristics. The answers then translated into a score to help determine how "ready" a site is for development. Each site in the program will receive recommendations on logical next steps towards industrial or commercial development. Last year, the Site Assessment Program evaluated 5,000 acres across Wake County. A second round of RFIs have been sent out to WCED's partners. These RFIs ask more in-depth questions and will help determine the services each site will receive. 

Marketing & Public Relations 

Forbes Contributor Series: How Entrepreneurs Could Survive A Venture Capital Slowdown

The article cites funding for major entrepreneurial hubs declining, all lagging the national year-over-year rate of growth, including San Francisco, New York, Los Angeles, and Boston. However, emerging entrepreneurial hubs all bested the national growth rate for funding, including Raleigh with the highest growth rate of all (+43 percent).

Siefert-Rose cites CED's recently released 2015 Innovators Report which found that North Carolina entrepreneurial companies raised $1.2 billion in equity funding last year, up 122 percent from last year, with the bulk of these deals in the Triangle.

The article features a Raleigh-based startup as an example of how some of these deals took shape: Lear(R)n, an education technology platform that helps teachers and administrators evaluate classroom software, received a grant from the non-profit NC IDEA to launch in 2014. The company was selected for the TechStars incubator, which led to industry connections and introductions to impact investors interested in improving educational outcomes. When Lea(R)n returned to Raleigh to raise its $800,000 seed round in 2015, it was oversubscribed, primarily by out-of-state angels who specialize in the ed tech space. The company also received a grant from the Seattle-based Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

Bloomberg Radio: Raleigh Can Compete with Bay Area's Tech Sector, Says Mayor McFarlane
Bloomberg Radio featured Raleigh Mayor Nancy McFarlane in an interview highlighting Raleigh's thriving tech sector and innovation economy: "Raleigh Can Compete with Bay Area's Tech Sector, Mayor Says." The piece highlights Raleigh's emergence as a leading tech and innovation hub, which is "giving places like Austin a run for their money." McFarlane speaks to the city's impressive job growth, robust talent pool, rapidly growing startup scene and intentional investments in quality of life assets including Union Station and Dix Park.

This is a result of Wake County Economic Development and the City of Raleigh's national storytelling campaign, which has placed nearly 30 stories in the national media since the campaign launched in November 2014.


Talent Attraction & Development

WCED Attends SXSW to Promote Entrepreneurship 
Michael Haley with WCED attended SXSW to promote Wake County as an entrepreneurial hub. SXSW featured presentations and panels from the brightest minds in emerging technology, networking events hosted by industry leaders, and programs showcasing startup ideas. While in Austin, WCED highlighted Raleigh as a top U.S. innovation and entrepreneurial hub. As part of our effort to spotlight the area, we published content outlining our unique strengths and assets.

To read about the messages we touted in Austin, click here to read an article via WRAL TechWire. Check out additional content around what we learned at SXSW and the innovation strengths of Raleigh, including the Internet of Things, funding, the maker movement and more via our blog. You can also view download our Raleigh innovation fact card here.

Raleigh Lands on Forbes America's 20 Best Cities for Young Professionals in 2016 
Raleigh has landed on Forbes America's 20 Best Cities for Young Professionals in 2016. According to Forbes, the cities that made the list generally fell into two categories: the first, job-heavy economic powerhouses where the pay is high and the cost of living is too, and the second, places where the pay is still decent but the cost of living is a relative bargain. A summary of the study can be found on our blog.

Recent Rankings  

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

  • #1 Healthiest NC County 
    (Wake County, NC) County Health Rankings | March 2016
  • #4 Best Place to Live 
    (Raleigh-Durham, NC) US News| March 2016
  • #9 Fastest Growing City 
    (Raleigh, NC) Forbes | March 2016

Wake County Labor Market Statistics 


Labor Force & Employment


Employment Rate Dec 2015 

Since January 2015, Wake County's labor force has increased by 28,617 and employment has increased by 27.327. This represents growth of 5.5 percent for both labor force and employment.

Unemployment Rate

 Unemployment Rate Dec 2015

Wake County's unemployment rate (the proportion of those unemployed relative to the labor force) has decreased from 5.4 percent in January 2015 to 4.6 percent in January 2016. This represents a 0.8 percent decrease. 


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