Entrepreneurs take note: This fast-growing city is in one of the best states for doing business.
It’s a good time to be a small business owner in Raleigh, N.C.
In Forbes’ 2014 ranking of the fastest-growing cities in the United States, the business magazine placed Raleigh No. 2 (in addition to rating North Carolina the No. 4 best state for doing business in 2013). Forbes reported that in 2013, Raleigh experienced a 2.44 percent job growth year-over-year and an estimated 2.15 percent population growth.
Many factors, including a temperate climate, vibrant intellectual community and variety of cultural offerings, attracted David Menzies, president of Innovative Public Relations, to the area. But the most alluring feature was that it is a city ripe with small business opportunities.
Three of the city’s top industries have plenty to offer small business owners. Here, an overview:
Raleigh’s Economic Development Program calls the technology industry a fundamental component of the economy; software development, open source technology and interactive digital media/game development are three leading opportunity areas.
Daylight.co, a newly launched digital media company, is one example. “There has never been a better moment than this for running a tech startup in the Raleigh area,” says cofounder Taj Forer. “The innovative and disruptive ideas keep coming, the incredibly talented teams keep pulling together to execute these visionary ideas and the world is taking notice of what’s happening here.”
While healthcare is a growing industry nationwide, thanks to an aging and longer-living population, it’s also rapidly expanding in Raleigh due to the city’s burgeoning population. More than 500 life science companies—which include opportunity areas such as biotechnology, pharmaceuticals, contract research and medical technology—operate within the greater Raleigh area.
Another booming area is in-home care. Jamie Canelas, franchise owner and operator of SYNERGY HomeCare of the Triangle, has seen his business grow rapidly since opening in 2009. He serves an eight-county area, competing with 146 other in-home care agencies in Wake County alone.
Raleigh is home to thriving education institutions: North Carolina State University, Duke University and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill are all within the greater area, and Research Triangle Park (RTP), a collection of businesses focused on scientific advancement, is located between the three.
“The education space definitely seems to be growing quickly in the area, not just due to increased demands for college degrees, driving more higher education enrollment, but also because the large number of people relocating to the area are increasing the demand for schools and teachers at the primary and secondary education levels,” says Jake Bohall, vice president of marketing for RTP-based search marketing agency Virante.
This array of educational options provides both job opportunities and a feeder system of graduates into the workforce.
“Raleigh has a great intersection of all these industries—tech, healthcare, education—and all are influenced by each other,” says Andrew Stanten, president and co-founder of Lehigh Valley, Pa.-based Altitude Marketing, which established its first satellite office in RTP last year. “In addition to supporting one another, these sectors are largely supportive of the entrepreneurial community. As a result, small businesses can rest assured they’ve picked the right place to do business.”
Learn more about NFIB in North Carolina.