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Big Tech Driving Economic Growth in Raleigh

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By all accounts, the metro Raleigh area is flourishing. Since the last census of 2010, its population has grown by 23%, making this the second-fastest-growing metro in the country, behind only Austin. Aside from the relatively low cost of living, gorgeous natural landscapes, and a plethora of things to do, much of Raleigh’s population growth is driven by job opportunities generated by the dozens of companies moving to the area each year, big tech giants among them. 

Over the next 10 years, future job growth in this area is predicted to be higher than the national average at 44.2%, driven primarily by the STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) and tech sectors. The talent pool is already here, formed by a cluster of top-tier research universities that produce 9,000 graduates a year. Duke University, UNC Chapel Hill, and NC State are nationally ranked for research programs in medicine, new technologies, biomedical sciences, the environment, data science, and engineering, among others. It’s only natural then, that global corporations will follow, and it’s already happening. 

With the influx of companies establishing offices and headquarters in Research Triangle Park, the greater Raleigh area is poised for a period of dynamic growth. Companies like IPM Chirana, a ventilator maker, and Grail, Inc., a research company focused on multi-cancer early detection, have already invested in the Triangle, bringing with them thousands of well-paying new jobs. And of course, there are mega companies, like Apple and Google, who have announced plans to establish offices in the area. 

Apple is investing $1 billion over 10 years to establish a campus at Research Triangle Park, bringing with it an estimated 3,000 jobs with an average salary of $187,000. Google is coming to Durham to create a new engineering hub and 1,000 new jobs. Nike is reportedly eyeballing Chapel Hill for new office space, but no plans have been announced.

Tech Companies in Raleigh

According to the Wake County Economic Development office, between October 1, 2020 and June 30, 2021, 17 companies moved to Wake County (where most of the Raleigh metro is located) and 50 have expanded, creating 8,880 new jobs and investing nearly $3.4B into the local economy. A few examples of these tech-driven companies are:

  • Eliant
  • Phreesia
  • Medly Pharmacy
  • Gilead Sciences
  • Invitae Corporation
  • SingleStore

And here are the reasons they’re coming:

Smart, Young Talent. Since the 1960s, Research Triangle Park’s growth and success has been primarily driven by the graduates of Duke University, UNC Chapel Hill, and NC State. Raleigh and the surrounding cities have focused heavily on creating a culture of innovation and entrepreneurship to entice and retain these recent college graduates. 

Low cost of living: Compared to the “other” tech mecca of San Francisco, Raleigh is about 163% less expensive. From food and transportation to housing and healthcare, the dollar stretches much further in the Triangle, meaning residents have a higher disposable income, which in turn helps fuel the local economy. In 2020, Raleigh saw the most out-of-state relocations from New York, Washington DC, and Miami, which are all more expensive metros. 

Attractive housing market: Even with housing costs increasing in Raleigh, it’s still a great time to buy a home. Home prices have increased by about 17% from June 2020 to June 2021 (Zillow), and have increased over 40% from five years ago. The market shows no sign of slowing, presenting a great investment opportunity for homebuyers to build equity quickly. With so many prospects moving to the area, and with home builders and developers buying land to help meet demand, new home starts are predicted to grow 7% or more in 2021 (Builder Online). Additionally, salaries in Raleigh continue to climb while interest rates remain at historic lows, which translates to greater buying power. 

Work hard, play harder: Central North Carolina has some of the best weather and most beautiful natural landscapes in the country. Residents enjoy a myriad of outdoor activities throughout all four seasons, including hiking, mountain biking, rafting, paddling, horseback riding, and more. The Triangle offers world-class dining, shopping, and entertainment, while many of the smaller commuter towns have charming historic districts and plenty of local personality. 

The opportunities are here to land a well-paying job in an emerging field, and with so many innovative companies staking a claim in the area, Raleigh is poised to be the breakout city of the next decade.

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