Mayors examine Raleigh's draw for business

November 14, 2013 

And all this time, Raleigh has been thinking of Charlotte as a competitor for new business. But it turns out, according to James Sauls, the city’s economic developer, that the Capital City’s rivals are Austin, Texas, New York, Atlanta, San Jose, Boston and Washington.

Sauls should know. He’s the one out there recruiting new business, either in the establishment of new branches or the relocation of existing ones.

As part of the annual N.C. Metropolitan Mayors Coalition meeting in Raleigh this week, a corporate executive with a New York firm, Ipreo, that works providing research and technology to investment banks, talked about Raleigh as the destination for his company’s second-largest office. The office will be in downtown Raleigh, and the big draw was the fact that the Triangle is flush with colleges and universities.

In fact, and this is the very good news for this region, about 80 of the 140 workers who’ll be in the Raleigh office are local hires. “We’ve been able to tap the universities and community colleges for staff,” said O’Hara Macken, executive vice president of the company. Coming to Raleigh, he said, was a “natural fit.”

Nancy McFarlane, Raleigh’s mayor and a pharmaceutical business entrepreneur herself, was no doubt pleased at the good outlook for Raleigh. North Carolina obviously has need to recruit business that can locate all over the state, particularly in areas where unemployment is high, but for high-tech companies looking to move from big cities to lower-cost locations that also have good sources of educated workers, the Research Triangle is hard to beat.

And indeed, Ipreo is a good example of a case in which it couldn’t be beaten.

An economist, Mekael Teshome, told the mayors that the urban centers of Charlotte and Raleigh-Durham have regained jobs lost in the recession, but most other metro areas have not. Still, the Triangle cannot take the rebound for granted. The pursuit of clean, high-tech, forward-looking business is never ending. It would appear Raleigh and the Triangle are strongly positioned.

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