Raleigh Rides R&D Trolley

Among the fastest growing cities in the nation, Raleigh, North Carolina, was named by Fortune magazine as the sixth best U.S. city for business in November 1998.

The city’s population increased 30.1 percent from 1990 to 1999, or an average of 3.34 percent annually. Raleigh is proud that new workers are arriving en masse from places such as New York and California, bringing their own cultures to blend with many of the area’s southern traditions.

A Technology Triangle

A major draw for such workers is Research Triangle Park (RTP), a 7,000-acre area between Raleigh, Durham and Chapel Hill, employing 43,000 research employees for 137 different companies. Furthermore, the Research Triangle Foundation expects that figure to rise to 100,000 when the park is fully developed.

The bulk of the companies in the park are in IT industries and telecommunications. Almost 28,000 people work for firms like Cisco Systems, Ericsson and Nortel Network. Pharmaceutical companies, including Glaxo Wellcome, account for another 5,300. Biotechnology and environmental sciences are important sectors in the area as well.

The Foundation says that many of the companies in the RTP that are focused on Research and Development (R&D) situate almost half of their R&D facilities in Raleigh. As of June 2000, the area’s 1.3 percent unemployment rate has created no employment challenges, since firms successfully recruit from local universities, such as North Carolina State, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and Duke University.

In Raleigh itself, the main employers are the State of North Carolina, with 24,000 employees, and Wake County public school system, with 9,500. The Raleigh Chamber of Commerce observes this makes the area “recession-proof.” That is, should the high-tech boom collapse, stable employers like government and education should face no adverse effects.

A Home for “Knowledge Workers”

Not surprisingly, job creation in the area has led to a building boom. And while housing prices have gone up accordingly, the Raleigh Chamber of Commerce reports they are still lower than many of the places from where the workers have come. The Chamber also noted that many of them are “knowledge workers” whose higher-than-average incomes allow them to manage higher-than-average asking prices.

Average salaries for white-collar jobs in Research Triangle Park

Position – Weighted Average Salary(Monthly) – Average Entry Rate(Monthly)

Accountant – $3,443 – $2,795
Chemist – 3,285 – 3,162
Industrial Engineering Manager – 5,602 – 4,647
LAN Administrator – 4,406 – 3,318
Office Manager – 2,865 – 2,461
Plant Manager – 7,753 – 6,164
Product Development Engineer – 6,005 – 4,113
Project Engineer – 5,176 – 4,038
Research Scientist – 4,491 – 3,637
Systems Analyst – 4,788 – 3,538
Customer Service Supervisor – 3,607 – 3,204

Source: The CAI 1999 North Carolina Wage and Salary Survey

Vacancy rates for office (1st Quarter 2000)

Downtown: 5.54 percent
RTP/I-40 Corridor: 6.53 percent
Triangle-wide: 6.94 percent

Estimated average lease rates for Class A office space

Downtown: $17.50 per square foot (range: $16.50 – $21.00)
RTP/I-40 Corridor: $18.50 per square foot (range: $15.00 – $21.50)
Triangle-wide: N/A (estimated $18.50)

Source: Space Magazine and The Business Journal – April 28, 2000

Family life and activities revolve around the city’s numerous parks, as well as the sports teams from area universities. There’s been a recent surge in nightclub, bar and restaurant openings in areas such as the City Market downtown, Power Square, the Warehouse district and Hillsborough Street, across from the NC State campus. And according to the Chamber, Raleigh is becoming the “Smithsonian of the South,” thanks to its many museums, including the new Museum of Natural Sciences.

With its moderate temperature, rolling terrain and close proximity to the Atlantic Ocean, it is no wonder that in 1998, Outlook magazine ranked Raleigh the second choice city in the United States in which to live and do business. Perhaps you will find it No. 1.

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