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Monday, September 4, 2017

Hickory Metro's 2016 Economy versus North Carolina MSAs

This article is a continuation of the last series I did eight years ago, Hickory - Time to put the Puzzle together. Here, I compare all of the Metropolitan Statistical Areas within the State of North Carolina. In looking at the comparison data between the Hickory-Lenoir-Morganton Metropolitan Statistical Area and the other MSAs in North Carolina, we see that our MSA ranks 9th in terms of population. With the second worst growth rate, an actual loss of .36% of the area’s population base, we see that we have fallen 4 spots (to #147) in terms of our MSA rank in the United States.  Out of 15 defined MSAs in our State, Hickory ranks 14th in terms of growth with a loss of .3% of its population. Only Rocky Mount has worse growth, losing 3.3% of its population.

Since 2010, The State of North Carolina’s population has grown by just shy of 9% with a population of over 10.3 million people. The Raleigh, Charlotte, Durham, and Wilmington areas grew by double digits during that period.

As of 2016, Hickory is the largest city in the Hickory-Lenoir-Morganton MSA and Catawba County, the county in which Hickory resides, is by far the largest county in the metro area so we shall call it the Hickory MSA. Hickory (Pop. 40,567) is more that twice the size of both Lenoir (Pop. 17,973) and Morganton (Pop. 16,665). Catawba county's population is over 154,000, while Burke’s is around 90,000 and Caldwell County has about 83,000. The new addition of Marion and McDowell county as part of our MSA come in with populations of 7,849 and around 45,000 respectively.

Our state's MSA populations range from a high end of the nation's 22nd largest MSA, Charlotte, with a population of 2,474,314 to a low end of Goldsboro, North Carolina with a population of 124,150.  We have many diverse populations within our state. The largest MSA population growth, since 2010, was (Raleigh) at 15.5%, while Rocky Mount lost 3.3% of its population. Out of the 10 largest MSAs, all grew but one. Only Hickory did not grow. Raleigh, Charlotte, Wilmington, and Durham continued the double digit increases they had seen since 2000. Hickory's growth rate was the second worst amongst major metros in North Carolina. Winston-Salem and Fayetteville had the next smallest growth rates at over 3%.

The Milken Institute is a nonprofit, nonpartisan think tank determined to increase global prosperity by advancing collaborative solutions that widen access to capital, create jobs and improve health. They do this through independent, data-driven research, action-oriented meetings, and meaningful policy initiatives. In their study defining America’s Best Performing Cities, they do an analysis in two segments, the top 200 MSAs and 124 small markets. There are 9 NC metro areas that fall within the Large Market analysis. The smallest of the large MSAs in North Carolina is Wilmington with an MSA population of 282,573. It is the 167th largest market in the United States. It's MSA has been redefined since I last did this analysis, but Wilmington has grown by 10.86% in six years (2010-2016). 

The defined data I looked at for comparison includes MSA Population rank, Population growth from 2010 to 2016, Milken Best Performing Cities ranking, Gallup-Heathway ranking, Per Capita Income in 2008 and 2016, and Income growth from 2008 to 2016. Milken rankings look at the local, modern business environment of the various MSAs in the U.S. The Gallup-Healthway study looks at the quality of overall health in an MSA. Per Capita Income measures the average income earned per person in a given area (city, region, country, etc.) in a specified year. It is calculated by dividing the area's total income by its total population. There are others keys into looking at the overall viablity of a community, but I believe that the defined data are good reference points to look at in judging the Macroeconomic viability of a community.
The Gallup Healthways Well-being index has been recently renamed the Gallup-Sharecare Well-Being Index and it will be the largest collection of data related to the health and wellbeing of large populations ever assembled. This information will lead community leaders, policy makers, and employers to make decisions positively affecting the health and wellbeing of millions of people.
The Gallup-Sharecare Well-Being Index is designed to be the Dow Jones of health, giving a daily measure of people's wellbeing at the close of every day. With a daily measure, determining the correlation between the places where people work and the communities in which they live, and how it impacts their wellbeing, is now possible. Additionally, the index will increase an understanding of how those factors impact the financial health of corporations and communities.  The research and methodology underlying the Well-Being Index is based on the World Health Organization definition of health as "not only the absence of infirmity and disease, but also a state of physical, mental, and social wellbeing."
Unfortunately, the Hickory MSA has ranked at or near the bottom in all of these defined categories for years, we do see some glimmers of a chance to move forward.  As I pointed to above, we have lost population. Hickory's Milken ranking is 167, which is in the bottom quartile of the MSA's looked at. Our numbers have increased substantially since ranking in the bottom 10 of the study for years. Raleigh is ranked #6, Charlotte is ranked #12, and Wilmington is ranked #54. These cities have all seen times when they have been ranked in the top 10 over the past decade. The Gallup-Healthway study has ranked us in the Bottom 10 of healthy cities since its inception in the earlier part of this decade. At present, we are ranked next to last in the overall quality of health compared to other cities in the United States. Durham, Asheville, and Raleigh are in the top 50 and Charlotte is #54.

The optimistic side is that although we remain at the bottom in terms of income, we have come a long way. Hickory is no longer at or near the bottom of unemployment numbers and it ranks  #1 in terms of income growth in the State of North Carolina. In 2008, Hickory’s average income was 66% of the highest MSA income, which was Charlotte’s at over $44k. In 2016, Hickory’s income is 73% of top dog Raleigh’s $48k average income. Hickory’s incomes have risen by 15.5% during this timeframe. The low incomes of 2008 could be because of the issues that Hickory was having transitioning out of its heavy, low-skill manufacturing production economy during the first decade of the new century. Now that we have also lost many younger folks in the 18-45 age bracket (productive labor force group), that labor supply reduction with a manufacturing capacity that has stabilized is going to mean that companies are going to have to pay more for workers. Not only that, the evolution towards technical jobs that require more skills will demand higher wages, but Hickory still has a ways to go in relation to the incomes seen elsewhere.

When we look at our larger MSAs, which qualify as national cities, Charlotte and Raleigh as examples, they have seen an influx of the exact younger demographic populations that Hickory has lost. Wages increased some in Raleigh, but were down in Charlotte. The influx of the productive demographic past the point of growth in labor demand is keeping wages in check. Raleigh has seen more wage growth than Charlotte, because most economic growth was centered around the growth in the governmental sector during the years of the Obama Administration. Charlotte lagged, because of the problems with the Banking/Financial sector during the crisis of 2008.  Similarly, other communities in this State that had suffered a lack of income growth in the first part of the last decade were the ones that made the greatest strides forward since 2008. Like Hickory, they have a long way to go to catch up.

We need to realize that we face challenges that larger cities don’t. Those communities have broader economies and more diverse industries based upon Economies of Scale. A larger city, like Charlotte or Raleigh, is afforded more resiliencies, because while one sector of their economy may suffer in recessionary periods, another may not suffer as much and may even do well. This is because of the multitude of large employers located in their area. Hickory has been mainly manufacturing for over 100 years and that manufacturing was mainly in textiles and furniture with only a handful of large companies. These two industries saw huge job losses since the turn of the new century. When those larger companies laid off hundreds of workers in 2008, it ballooned our unemployment rate and the issues that lay there-in. Our area thought it had properly diversified with the addition of several companies associated with telephony and fiber-optics, but the evolution of those industries created some flux in our economy in the latter part of the past decade. Much of the economic employment woes that we saw a decade ago have stabilized, but we have not been able to gain traction towards sustained growth. That is the reason why we must continue to renovate the local economy.

40 years ago, we were on a positive growth path. Our local airport was viable and Interstate 40 had just opened. We had viable retail sectors in the city’s core and along Highway 70 in the southwest section of Hickory. Through our community’s economic evolution, we have seen those areas stagnate or decline. We have spent several millions of dollars towards the revitalization of our Downtown area, but many feel it could do better and the investment hasn’t netted the results expected. The Hickory Regional Airport is a shadow of what it once was and many feel that it could be so much more and it is a poster child (represents) for wasted economic opportunity.

Below is information showing each of North Carolina’s MSA, their characteristics, and statistics. You will see their populations, population growth, Milken Statistics, Unemployment Statistics from the last recession to January of this year, Gallup-Healthway rankings, per capita income, Largest City, Higher Education opportunities, Economy and Employers, and their public transportation system.

North Carolina's 10 major airports, ranked by corporate jet activityTriangle Business Journal -  July 8, 2014
1. Asheville Regional Airport: 30 corporate aircraft among a total of 158 planes based at the airport.
2. It’s a tie: Piedmont Triad International Airport in Greensboro: 27 corporate aircraft, 356 total; and Wilmington International Airports: 27 corporate aircraft, 155 total.
4. Raleigh-Durham International Airport in Morrisville: 23 corporate aircraft, 702 total.
5. Coastal Carolina Regional Airport: 22 corporate aircraft, 140 total.
6. Charlotte Douglas International Airport: 21 corporate aircraft, 541 total.
7. Albert J. Ellis Airport in Richlands: 17 corporate aircraft, 74 total.
8. Fayetteville Regional Airport: 15 corporate aircraft, 175 total.
9. Concord Regional Airport: 14 corporate aircraft, 161 total.
10. Pitt Greenville Airport: 10 corporate aircraft, 124 total.

International Airports
Piedmont-Triad (Greensboro)

Commercial Service Regional Airports
Coastal Carolina (New Bern)
Albert J. Ellis (Richlands, Jacksonville)

vs 2010 MSA rank: +2
Pop: 2010 (2,217,012) - 2016 (2,474,314) = +11.61%
Milken:  2009:(47)   -  2013:(27)  -  2016: (12)
U3 Unemployment (January): 2009: (10.9) - 2017: (5.1)
Gallup Healthway rank - 2013:(56)  -  2016:(54)
Per Capita personal income   2008: ($46,576)   to   2015: ($44,935) = -3.52%

5-yr Job Growth (10-15) Score: 106.47 Rank: 23
5-yr Wages & Salaries Growth (09-14) Score: 108.13 Rank: 11
5-yr Relative HT GDP Growth (09-14) Score: 102.83   Rank: 62

Largest City – Charlotte, NC,  Pop. 842,051, as of 2016,  is the county seat of Mecklenburg County

Higher Education
University of North Carolina at Charlotte, Johnson C Smith University, Queens University of Charlotte, Central Piedmont Community College (Central Campus), King's College, Johnson & Wales University, Carolinas College-Health Science, Carolinas Medical Center, The Art Institute of Charlotte, New Life Theological Seminary, Pfeiffer University-Charlotte, devry University‎, Keller Graduate School of Management, Keller Graduate School of Management, ITT Technical Institute, Brookstone College of Business, University Park Creative Arts, University of Phoenix - Charlotte Campus, ECPI College of Technology, Strayer University, Tech Skills Charlotte, Wake Forest Babcock Graduate School of Management, Charlotte school of Law, davidson College (20 miles north of center city).

Economy and Employers - Charlotte has become a major U.S. financial center, and the nation's largest financial institution by assets, Bank of America, calls the city home. The city was also the former corporate home of Wachovia until its purchase by Wells Fargo in 2008; Wells Fargo continues to operate Wachovia as a wholly-owned subsidiary, with its east coast headquarters in Charlotte. Bank of America's headquarters, along with other regional banking and financial services companies, are located primarily in the uptown financial district. Thanks in large part to the expansion of the city's banking industry, the Charlotte skyline has mushroomed in the past two decades and boasts the Bank of America Corporate Center, the tallest skyscraper between Philadelphia and Atlanta. The 60-story postmodern gothic tower, designed by renowned architect Cesar Pelli, stands 871 feet tall and was completed in 1992.

The following Fortune 500 companies are headquartered in the Charlotte metropolitan area, in order of their rank: Bank of America, Lowe's in suburban Mooresville, Nucor (steel producer), Duke Energy, Sonic Automotive, Family Dollar, Goodrich Corporation, and SPX Corporation (industrial technology). Other major companies headquartered in the Metro Charlotte include Time Warner Cable (formerly a business unit of Fortune 500 company Time Warner), Continental Tire North America (formerly Continental/General Tire), Muzak, Belk, Harris Teeter, Meineke Car Care Centers, Lance, Inc, Bojangles', Carlisle Companies, LendingTree, Compass Group USA, Food Lion, and the Carolina Beverage Corporation (makers of Cheerwine, Sun Drop, and others) in suburban Salisbury, North Carolina. Charlotte is home to several large shopping malls, with Carolina Place Mall and SouthPark Mall being the largest. Also, neighboring Gastonia is home to the Parkdale Mills world headquarters. Concord Mills Mall is also the largest shopping outlet in the state and one of the largest in the nation and single biggest draw in NC and its exterior is lined with many trendy colorful restaurants that parallel Myrtle Beach.

Charlotte is also a major center in the US motorsports industry, with NASCAR having multiple offices in and around Charlotte. Approximately 75% of the NASCAR industry's employees and drivers are based within two hours of downtown Charlotte. Charlotte is also the future home of the NASCAR Hall of Fame, expected to be open May 10, 2010, a week prior to the Sprint All-Star Race. The already large presence of the racing technology industry along with the newly built NHRA premier dragstrip, zMAX Dragway at Concord, located just north of Charlotte, is influencing some of the top professional drag racers to move their shops from more expensive areas like California to the Charlotte area as well. The recently announced small racetrack at the former Metrolina Fairgrounds location which is at Sunset and Statesville Roads is expected to bring more local racing to the area along with a skate park, shoppes, restaurants and an upscale hotel will offer recreation of many types. Located in the western part of Mecklenburg County is the National Whitewater Rafting Center, consisting of man-made rapids of various degrees and is open to the public year round.

The center city/uptown area of Charlotte has seen remarkable growth over the last decade. Numerous residential units continue to be built uptown, including over 20 skyscapers either under construction, recently completed, or in the planning stage. Many new restaurants, bars and clubs now operate in the Uptown area. Several projects are transforming the Midtown Charlotte/Elizabeth area.

Public Transportation – (Charlotte) - CATS operates light rail transit, historical trolleys, express shuttles, and bus service serving Charlotte and its immediate suburbs. The LYNX light rail system comprises a 9.6-mile line north-south line known as the Blue Line. Bus ridership continues to grow (66% since 1998), but more slowly than operations increases which have risen 170% in that same time when adjusted for inflation.[47] The 2030 Transit Corridor System Plan looks to supplement established bus service with light rail & commuter rail lines as a part of a system dubbed LYNX.

Pop: 2010 (1,130,490) - 2016 (1,302,946) = +15.25%
Milken 2009:(10)  -  2013:(13)  -  2016(6)
U3 Unemployment  (January) 2009:(9.8)  -  2016:(5.3)
Gallup Healthway rank - 2013:(19)  -  2016:(48)
Per Capita personal income   2008: ($44,582)  to  2015: ($48,411) =  +8.59%

5-yr Job Growth (10-15) Score: 106.90 Rank: 18
5-yr Wages & Salaries Growth (09-14) Score: 107.65 Rank: 12
5-yr Relative HT GDP Growth (09-14) Score: 113.46   Rank: 22

Largest City – Raleigh, Pop. 458,880, as of 2016, is the County seat of Wake County and the Capital of North Carolina
Higher Education
Campbell University, Central Carolina Community College, Duke University, Durham Technical Community College, Louisburg College, Meredith College, North Carolina Central University,
North Carolina State University, Piedmont Community College, Shaw University, Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary and The College at Southeastern, St. Augustine's College, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Vance-Granville Community College, Wake Technical Community College,
William Peace University

Economy & Employers
The Research Triangle, commonly referred to as simply The Triangle, is a region in the Piedmont of North Carolina in the United States, anchored by North Carolina State University, Duke University, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and the cities of Raleigh and Durham and the town of Chapel Hill...     Anchored by leading technology firms, government and world-class universities, medical centers and schools, the area's economy has performed exceptionally well. Significant increases in employment, earnings, personal income, and retail sales are projected over the next 15 years...    The region's growing high-technology community includes such companies as IBM, SAS Institute, Cisco Systems, NetApp, Red Hat, EMC Corporation, and Credit Suisse First Boston. In addition to high-tech, the region is consistently ranked in the top three in the U.S. with concentration in life science companies. Some of these companies include GlaxoSmithKline, Biogen Idec, BASF, Merck & Co., Novo Nordisk, Novozymes, and Pfizer. Research Triangle Park and North Carolina State University's Centennial Campus in Raleigh support innovation through R&D and technology transfer among the region's companies and research universities (including Duke University and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill).

Largest Employers - Research Triangle Region (
State of North Carolina    (24,739), Wake County Public School System (17,572),  Red Hat      (9,800),  North Carolina State University (7,730),  WakeMed (7,607),  Rex Hospital (4,800),  Wake County (4,272),  City of Raleigh (3,811), Progress Energy (2,500), First Citizens BancShares (1,703),  Duke Raleigh Hospital (1,700)              Others - BASF Crop Protection, BASF Plant Science LP, Bayer CropScience LP, Biogen IDEC, Cisco Systems, Credit Suisse, Fidelity Investments, GlaxoSmithKline, IBM, National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, NetApp, RTI International, Syngenta Biotechnology, Talecris Biotherapeutics, United States Environmental Protection Agency

Public Transportation - Public transportation in and around Raleigh is provided by Capital Area Transit (CAT), which operates 38 bus fixed routes and a historic trolley line within the city, and also by Triangle Transit. From 1995 the cornerstone of Triangle Transit's long-term plan was a 28-mile rail corridor from northeast Raleigh, through downtown Raleigh, Cary, and Research Triangle Park, to Durham using DMU technology. There were proposals to extend this corridor 7 miles to Chapel Hill with light rail technology. However, in 2006 Triangle Transit deferred implementation indefinitely when the Federal Transit Administration declined to fund the program due to low ridership projections.

vs 2010 MSA rank: -2
Pop: 2010 (723,801) - 2016 (756,139) = +4.47%
Milken: 2009:(154)   -  2013:(135)  -  2016: (121)
U3 Unemployment (January): 2009: (10.3) - 2017: (5.1)
Gallup Healthway rank - 2013:(120)  -  2016:(116)
Per Capita personal income   2008: ($35,340)   to   2015: ($39,263) = +11.1%

5-yr Job Growth (10-15) Score: 96.96 Rank: 141
5-yr Wages & Salaries Growth (09-14) Score: 96.33 Rank: 123
5-yr Relative HT GDP Growth (09-14) Score: 99.45   Rank: 83

Largest City – Greensboro, NC, Pop. 287,027, is the county seat of Guilford county

Higher Education – Institutes of higher education - University of North Carolina at Greensboro, North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University, Bennett College for Women, Greensboro College, Guilford College, Guilford Technical Community College, Elon University School of Law, (For-profit universities) Brookstone College, ECPI College of Technology, DeVry University, Strayer University

Economy and Employers
Notable companies headquartered in Greensboro include the Honda Aircraft Company, Lorillard Tobacco Company, VF Corporation, Volvo Trucks of North America, RF Micro Devices, the International Textile Group, NewBridge Bank, Cook Out, Biscuitville, and Gilbarco Veeder-Root. Greensboro is also a "center of operations" for the insurance company Lincoln Financial Group. Although traditionally associated with the textile and tobacco industries, Greensboro leaders are working to attract new businesses in the nanotech, high-tech and transportation/logistics sectors. The University of North Carolina at Greensboro and North Carolina A&T State University opened a joint research park, Gateway University Research Park. Downtown Greensboro has experienced construction investment in recent years with developments such as NewBridge Bank Park, and residential developments and office construction. In 1998, FedEx chose to build and operate a $300 million mid-Atlantic air-cargo and sorting hub at Piedmont Triad International Airport.

Largest Employers (More than 1,000 employees) - Guilford County Schools,  Cone Health,  City Of Greensboro,    UNC Greensboro,   US Postal Service,   Guilford County, High Point Regional Health System, Wal-Mart Associates Inc, United Parcel Service Inc.,  Harris Teeter,   NC A&T State University, Thomas Built Buses Inc,  Volvo Group North America Llc,  BB&T,  Labcorp , Key Resources Inc ,  City Of High Point ,  The Lincoln National Life Ins Co, R F Micro Devices, Inc, Guilford Technical Community, Bank Of America,  Food Lion,  Gilbarco Inc, Proctor & Gamble Mfg. Co,  Polo Ralph Lauren Corp 
Public Transportation - Greensboro is served by Piedmont Triad International Airport, which also serves the nearby cities of High Point and Winston-Salem as well as the surrounding Piedmont Triad metropolitan region. Piedmont Triad International is the third busiest airport in North Carolina, averaging 280 takeoffs and landings each day. PTI was a hub for the now defunct Skybus Airlines                              Amtrak's daily Crescent, Carolinian and Piedmont trains connect Greensboro with the cities of New York, Philadelphia, Baltimore, Washington, D.C., Richmond, Raleigh, Charlotte, Atlanta, Birmingham and New Orleans.         Amtrak trains, taxis, local and long-distance buses arrive and depart from the J. Douglas Galyon Depot, also known as Greensboro station, at 236-C East Washington Street. Originally constructed in the early 1920s, the station and depot were renovated in 2004.
The Greensboro Transit Authority[72] offers public bus service throughout the city, including a service called Higher Education Area Transit, or HEAT, which links downtown attractions to area colleges and universities. Regional public transportation throughout the metropolitan area is coordinated by PART, Piedmont Area Regional Transportation.
The Greensboro Greenway is a bike trail that is being constructed to encircle downtown Greensboro. It will connect to other trails and lead out to the Bur Mill Park area and further.
Pop: 2010 (504,357) - 2016 (559,535) = +10.94%
Milken 2009:(6)   -  2013:(60)  -  2016: (85)
U3 Unemployment (January): 2009: (7.3) - 2017: (4.8)
Gallup Healthway rank - 2013:(32)  -  2016:(21)
Per Capita personal income   2008: ($44,484)   to   2015: ($45,723) = +2.79%

5-yr Job Growth (10-15) Score: 100.40 Rank: 81
5-yr Wages & Salaries Growth (09-14) Score: 96.46 Rank: 118
5-yr Relative HT GDP Growth (09-14) Score: 80.47   Rank: 183

Largest City – Durham, NC  Pop. 263,016 as of 2016 is the county seat of Durham county

Higher Education - Duke University, North Carolina Central University, Durham Technical Community College, The Art Institute of Raleigh-Durham.

Economy and Employers
10 largest employers - Duke University & Medical Center, International Business Machines, Durham Public Schools, GlaxoSmithKline, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina, NORTEL Networks, Durham City Government, Lenovo Group, Ltd., Veterans Administration Medical Center, RTI International, Inc.

Public Transportation - the Durham Area Transit Authority (DATA) bus system. Triangle Transit bus - Triangle Transit (known formerly as the Triangle Transit Authority, or TTA). Triangle Transit offers scheduled, fixed-route regional and commuter bus service between Raleigh and the region's other principal cities of Durham, Cary and Chapel Hill, as well as to and from the Raleigh-Durham International Airport, Research Triangle Park and several of the region's larger suburban communities.

Public transportation within the city and to/from its nearby suburbs is provided in the form of local bus routes run by New Jersey Transit. SEPTA also provides bus service to adjacent Bucks County, Pennsylvania. Duke University also maintains its own transit system, Duke Transit operates more than 30 buses with routes throughout the campus and health system. Duke campus buses and vans have alternate schedules or do not operate during breaks and holidays. From 1995 the cornerstone of Triangle Transit's long-term plan was a 28-mile rail corridor from northeast Raleigh, through downtown Raleigh, Cary, and Research Triangle Park, to Durham using DMU technology. There were proposals to extend this corridor 7 miles to Chapel Hill with light rail technology. However, in 2006 Triangle Transit deferred implementation indefinitely when the Federal Transit Administration declined to fund the program.

vs 2010 MSA rank: -2
Pop: 2010 (640,595) - 2016 (662,079) = +3.35%
Milken:  2009:(92)   -  2013:(136)  -  2016: (104)
U3 Unemployment (January): 2009: (9.9) - 2017: (5.2)
Gallup Healthway rank - 2013:(94)  -  2016:(141)
Per Capita personal income   2008: ($36,810)   to   2016: ($40,217)

5-yr Job Growth (10-15) Score: 98.21 Rank: 118
5-yr Wages & Salaries Growth (09-14) Score: 98.29 Rank: 81
5-yr Relative HT GDP Growth (09-14) Score: 99.67   Rank: 80
Largest City – Winston-Salem, NC  Pop. 242,203 as of 2016 is the county seat of Forsyth county

Higher Education
Wake Forest University, Winston-Salem State University, University of North Carolina School of the Arts, Salem College, Piedmont Baptist College, Winston-Salem Bible College, Forsyth Technical Community College

Economy and Employers
It is the location of the corporate headquarters of the R. J. Reynolds Tobacco Company, Krispy Kreme Doughnuts, Inc., Branch Banking and Trust Company (BB&T), TW Garner Food Company (makers of Texas Pete), Reynolda Manufacturing Solutions,HanesBrands, Inc., Lowes Foods Stores, Southern Community Bank and ISP Sports. Wachovia Corporation was based in Winston-Salem until it merged with First Union Corporation in September 2001; the corporate headquarters of the combined company was located in Charlotte, until it was purchased by Wells Fargo in December 2008.

Although traditionally associated with the textile, furniture, and tobacco industries, Winston-Salem is attempting to attract new businesses in the nanotech, high-tech and bio-tech fields. Medical research is a fast-growing local industry, and Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center is the largest employer in Winston-Salem. Blue Rhino, the nation's largest propane exchange company and a division of Ferrellgas, is also headquartered in Winston-Salem. In December 2004, the city landed a deal with Dell, Inc. providing millions of dollars in incentives to build a computer assembly plant nearby in southeastern Forsyth County. However to date there is speculation of closing the plant due to mass layoffs. A portion of downtown Winston-Salem has been designated as the Piedmont Triad Research Park for biomedical and information technology research and development. Currently, the research park is undergoing an expansion, with hopes of jumpstarting the city's economy.

Largest Employers (More than 1,000 Employees) - Winston Salem Forsyth County School, Wake Forest University Baptist, Forsyth Memorial Hospital Inc, Wake Forest University School Of Me, Novant Health Inc, Wake Forest Univ., City Of Winston Salem,  Hanesbrands, Inc, Wal-Mart Associates Inc, BB&T, Wells Fargo Bank, Local Government, RJ Reynolds Tobacco Company, BE Aerospace Inc, Debbies Staffing Services, Forsyth Technical College,  Winston-Salem State University, Integon Corporation, Congruity HR, American Airlines Inc                             
Public Transportation
Winston-Salem Transit Authority (WSTA) has the responsibility of providing public transportation since 1972 after taking over the Safe Bus Company, Inc.. WSTA has 27 weekly routes, operating between 5:30am and 12:00 midnight Monday through Friday and from 6:30am through 6:30pm on Saturday , WSTA makes over 2 million passenger trips. The metropolitan area is connected by Piedmont Authority for Regional Transportation (PART).

vs 2010 MSA rank: +2
Pop: 2010 (424,858) - 2016 (452,319) = +6.46%
Milken:  2009:(75)   -  2013:(100)  -  2016: (77)
U3 Unemployment (January): 2009: (8.6) - 2017: (4.6)
Gallup Healthway rank - 2013:(140)  -  2016:(26)
Per Capita personal income   2008: ($34,550)  to  2015: ($38,813) = +12.34%

5-yr Job Growth (10-15) Score: 100.52 Rank: 78
5-yr Wages & Salaries Growth (09-14) Score: 97.40 Rank: 94
5-yr Relative HT GDP Growth (09-14) Score: 97.31   Rank: 98

Largest City – Asheville, NC, Pop. 89,121 is the county seat of Buncombe county

Higher Education
Asheville-Buncombe Technical Community College, Brevard College (Brevard), Mars Hill College (Mars Hill), Montreat College (Montreat), South College (Asheville), Uversity of North Carolina at Asheville, Warren Wilson College (Swannanoa), Western Carolina University (Cullowhee)

Economy and Employers
Asheville has a tourism based economy.

Largest Employers –  (More that 1,000 employees) - Memorial Mission Hospital Inc, Buncombe County Board Of Education, Ingles Markets Inc, Veterans Administration, Biltmore Workforce Management Inc, County Of Buncombe, City Of Asheville, Wal-Mart Associates Inc, Community Carepartners Inc, Asheville Buncombe Technical College, Mission Medical Associates Inc (Other significant employers) -  Grove Park Inn owned by Omni Hotels Management, Borg-Warner Turbo Systems                 

Public Transportation
The city operates Asheville Redefines Transit, which consists of sixteen bus lines[93] providing service throughout the City of Asheville and to Black Mountain, North Carolina.

Pop: 2010 (366,383) - 2016 (380,389) = +3.82%
Milken 2009:(31)   -  2013:(82) -  2016: (180)
U3 Unemployment (January): 2009: (8.7) - 2017: (6.8)
Gallup Healthway rank - 2013:(163)  -  2016:(159)
Per Capita personal income   2008: ($31,905)  to  2015: ($36,460) = +14.28%

5-yr Job Growth (10-15) Score: 91.19 Rank: 195
5-yr Wages & Salaries Growth (09-14) Score: 86.29 Rank: 196
5-yr Relative HT GDP Growth (09-14) Score: 97.10   Rank: 100

Largest City – Fayetteville, NC, Pop. 204,759 as of 2016, is the county seat of Cumberland County

Higher Education
Fayetteville State University, Methodist University, Fayetteville Technical Community College

Economy and Employers
Largest Employers (More than 1,000 employess) - Department Of Defense (Fort Bragg and Pope Air Force Base), Cumberland County Bd Of Education, Cape Fear Valley Health Systems, Wal-Mart Associates Inc, County Of Cumberland, Goodyear Tire And Rubber Inc, City Of Fayetteville, Veterans Administration, Fayetteville Technical Com College, Food Lion, Fayetteville State University (Other Significant Employers) – Purolator, Eaton Corporation

Public Transportation – The Fayetteville Area System of Transit (FAST) serves the Fayetteville and Spring Lake regions, with ten bus routes and two shuttle routes. FAST operates thirteen fixed bus routes within the city of Fayetteville. Service is between the hours of 5:45 am and 10:30 pm on weekdays, with reduced hours on Saturdays and no Sunday service. Most routes begin and end at the Transfer Center at 147 Old Wilmington Road in Fayetteville. Other transfer points are located at University Estates, Cross Creek Mall, Veterans Administration Medical Center, Bunce and Cliffdale Rds and Cape Fear Valley Medical Center…                             The Atlantic Coast Line Railroad Station, built in 1911, provides daily Amtrak service with northbound and southbound routes leading to points along the East Coast.

Pop: 2010 (365,497) - 2016 (364,187) = -.36%
Milken 2009:(185)   -  2013:(190) - 2016: (167)
U3 Unemployment (January): 2009: (13.4) - 2017: (5.2)
Gallup Healthway rank  - 2013:(185)  -  2016:(188)
Per Capita personal income   2008: ($30,661)  to   2015: ($35,406) = +15.48%

5-yr Job Growth (10-15) Score: 94.61 Rank: 180
5-yr Wages & Salaries Growth (09-14) Score: 94.28 Rank: 158
5-yr Relative HT GDP Growth (09-14) Score: 112.25   Rank: 23

Largest City – Hickory
Pop. 40,567, as of 2016, is in Catawba County.

Higher Education – Lenoir-Rhyne University, Appalachian State – Hickory, Catawba Valley Community College, Caldwell Community College and Technical Institute, Western Piedmont Community College

Economy and Employers - The furniture industry in Hickory is not as strong as in the decades previous, but still a primary component in the area economy. Currently the area is home to many leading manufacturers of furniture, fiber optic cable, and pressure-sensitive tape.
Largest Employers (More than 1,000 employees) - NC Dept Of Health & Human Services (Burke), Public School System (Burke), Blue Ridge Healthcare Hospitals (Burke), Caldwell County Schools, Bernhardt Furniture Co Inc (Burke), Merchants Distributors Llc (Caldwell), Catawba County Schools, Catawba Memorial Hospital, Gkn Driveline Newton Llc (Catawba), Commscope(Catawba), DLP Partner Frye Hospital Llc (Catawba), Human Resources Dept (Catawba),  Corning Optical Communications Llc (Catawba), Wal-Mart Associates Inc (Catawba), Baxter Healthcare Corp (McDowell), Mcdowell County Schools                      

Public Transportation - Greenway Public Transportation offers bus service to the cities of Conover, Hickory, and Newton. Flex Route service in the Town of Taylorsville and Demand Response Service in the counties of Alexander, Burke, Caldwell, and Catawba.

Pop: 2010 (254,884) - 2016 (282,573) = +10.86%%
Milken:  2009:(34)   -  2013:(77)  -  2016: (54)
U3 Unemployment (January): 2009: (9.4) - 2017: (5.3)
Gallup Healthway rank - 2013:(124)  -  2016:(124)
Per Capita personal income   2008: ($36,237)  to  2015: ($38,922) = +7.41%

5-yr Job Growth (10-15) Score: 101.33 Rank: 68
5-yr Wages & Salaries Growth (09-14) Score: 96.03 Rank: 129
5-yr Relative HT GDP Growth (09-14) Score: 110.17   Rank: 27

Largest City - Wilmington, NC, Pop. 117,525, as of 2016, is the county seat of New Hanover County.
Higher Education

University of North Carolina at Wilmington, Cape Fear Community College, Shaw University satellite campus

Economy and Employers
Wilmington's industrial base includes electrical, medical, electronic and telecommunications equipment; clothing and apparel; food processing; paper products; and pharmaceuticals. Wilmington is part of North Carolina's Research coast,one of the Country's largest and most successful research parts and major center in the United States. Also important to Wilmington's economy is tourism and film production. Economists have forecast growth in the Greater Wilmington area to be the fastest in the state between 2004–2010, averaging 7%.

Located on the Cape Fear River, which flows into the Atlantic Ocean, Wilmington is a sizable seaport, including private marine terminals and the North Carolina State Ports Authority's Port of Wilmington. A major international seaport, the North Carolina International Port, is being planned down the river in Southport.
Largest Employers - New Hanover Regional Medical Center, New Hanover County School System, UNC-Wilmington,  PPD Development Llc, County Of New Hanover, Cape Fear Community College, Cellco Partnership, City Of Wilmington NC, Pender County Schools  (Other Significant Employers) – General Electric, Corning                          
Public Transportation
Public transit in the area is provided by the Cape Fear Public Transportation Authority.[14] , which operates fixed bus routes, shuttles, and a free downtown trolley under the brand name Wave Transit.

124 Smallest Metros

vs 2010 MSA rank: +2
Pop: 2010 (177,772) - 2016 (187,136) = +5.27%
Milken 2009:(--)   -  2013:(52)  -  2016: (160)
U3 Unemployment (January): 2009: (8.5) - 2017: (5.7)
Gallup Healthway - 2013:(--)  -  2016:(--)
Per Capita personal income   2008: ($39,902)  to  2015: ($43,952) = +10.15%

5-yr Job Growth (10-15) Score: 94.02 Rank: 142
5-yr Wages & Salaries Growth (09-14) Score: 94.02 Rank: 178
5-yr Relative HT GDP Growth (09-14) Score: 102.63   Rank: 64

Largest City – Jacksonville, NC, Pop. 67,784, as of 2016, is the county seat of Onslow county.

Largest Employers - Onslow County Board Of Education,  Department Of Defense (Camp Lejeune & MCAS New River),  Marine Corps Community Services, Wal-Mart Associates Inc,  County Of Onslow,   Onslow Memorial Hospital  
Public Transportation  Jacksonville Transit operates several fixed-route services seven days per week             

Pop: 2010 (168,148) - 2016 (177,220) = +5.40%
Milken 2009:(41)   -  2013:(13)  -  2016: (91)
U3 Unemployment (January): 2009: (9.6) - 2017: (5.8)
Gallup Healthway - 2013:(--)  -  2016:(--)
Per Capita personal income   2008: 2008: ($32,949)  to  2015: ($37,042) = +12.42%

5-yr Job Growth (10-15) Score: 97.25 Rank: 92
5-yr Wages & Salaries Growth (09-14) Score: 97.25 Rank: 43
5-yr Relative HT GDP Growth (09-14) Score: 114.26   Rank: 166

Largest City – Greenville, NC, Pop. 91,495, as of 2016, is the county seat of Pitt county.

Higher Education
East Carolina University, Shaw University (satellite campus), Pitt Community College

Economy and Employers
The health care community in Greenville is one of the largest in the state of North Carolina. DSM - creates innovative products and services in Life Sciences and Materials Sciences. NACCO Materials Handling Group, Alliance One International, TRC, Inc., ASMO Greenville of North Carolina.
Other Pitt County Businesses

Largest Employers – (More than 1,000 employees) - Vidant Medical Center, East Carolina University, Pitt County Board Of Education, Pitt Community College, Patheon Manufacturing Services Llc, Nacco Materials Handling Group Inc, Wal-Mart Associates, Inc, Pitt County                                      
Public Transportation -The City of Greenville operates a mass transit bus system called Greenville Area Transit or GREAT.

Pop: 2010 (152,392) - 2016 (147,323) = -3.33%
Milken:  2009:(78)   -  2013:(169)  -  2016: (192)
U3 Unemployment (January): 2009: (12.4) - 2017: (7.4)
Gallup Healthway - 2013:(--)  -  2016:(--)
Per Capita personal income   2008: ($31,821)  to  2015: ($36,459) = +14.57%

5-yr Job Growth (10-15) Score: 88.33 Rank: 196
5-yr Wages & Salaries Growth (09-14) Score: 88.33 Rank: 193
5-yr Relative HT GDP Growth (09-14) Score: 70.91   Rank: 165

Largest City – Rocky Mount, NC, Pop. 55,466 as of 2016, is the largest city in Nash and Edgecombe counties.

Higher Education
Post-secondary institutions include Nash Community College,Shaw University, North Carolina Wesleyan College and Edgecombe Community College

Economy and Employers
Edgecombe Tarboro Bd Of Education, Qvc Rocky Mount Inc,  City Of Rocky Mount,  Hospira Inc, Nash-Rocky Mount Schools,  Nash General Hospital,   Consolidated Diesel Co    (Other Significant Companies) -  The Hillshire Brands Company, Vidant Medical Center, Alorica Inc,  Mclane Mid-Atlantic Inc, PNC Bank
Public TransportationTar River Transit is a pubic transportation service providing affordable fixed-route bus service throughout the City of Rocky Mount, North Carolina and Rural General Public para-transit transportation for Nash and Edgecombe counties.
Pop: 2010 (151,131) - 2016 (159,688) = +5.66%
Milken 2009:(75)   -  2013:(46) - 2016: (117)
U3 Unemployment (January): 2009: (10.8) - 2017: (5.0)
Gallup Healthway - 2013:(--)  -  2016:(--)
Per Capita personal income   2008: ($32,895)   to   2015: ($35,839) = +8.94%

5-yr Job Growth (10-15) Score: 96.63 Rank: 105
5-yr Wages & Salaries Growth (09-14) Score: 96.63 Rank: 101
5-yr Relative HT GDP Growth (09-14) Score: 94.68   Rank: 52

Largest City – Burlington, NC, Pop. 52,709, as of 2016, is located in Guilford and Alamance counties.

Higher Education
Elon University, Alamance Community College

Economy and Employers
LabCorp, one of the largest clinical laboratory companies in the world, has its headquarters and several testing facilities in Burlington. LabCorp is Alamance County's largest employer, employing over 3,000 people in the county. Honda Aero, a subsidiary of Honda, recently announced that it will move its corporate headquarters to Burlington and build a $27 million plant at the Burlington-Alamance Regional Airport where it will build its HF120 jet engines for use in very light jets. Biscuitville, a regional fast food chain, is based in Burlington. Burlington is also the operations headquarters for Gold Toe Brands, a manufacturer of socks.

Largest Employers - Alamance-Burlington School System, Labcorp, Alamance Regional Medical Center, Elon University, Wal-Mart Associates Inc, Alamance County Government (Other Significant Employers) – GKN Automotive Components, Honda Power Equipment                      

Public Transportation – Link Transit is your local transportation partner, serving Burlington, Gibsonville and Alamance Community College.   ACTA is a Public Authority established July 1, 2002 by the Alamance County Board of Commissioners under North Carolina General Statutes Chapter 160A, Article 25. The Authority is to provide transportation for the elderly, disabled, and general public in Alamance County. The Authority utilizes vans and buses which are ADA equipped, including wheelchair lifts, to assist persons with specialized needs.

vs 2010 MSA rank: -4
Pop: 2010 (126,802) - 2016 (126,111) = -.54%
Milken 2009:(--)   -  2013:(--) - 2016: (153)
U3 Unemployment (January): 2009: (--) - 2017: (--)
Gallup Healthway - 2013:(--)  -  2016:(--)
Per Capita personal income   2008 ($36,051)  to  2015: ($39,975) = +10.88%

5-yr Job Growth (10-15) Score: 93.82 Rank: 148
5-yr Wages & Salaries Growth (09-14) Score: 93.82 Rank: 175
5-yr Relative HT GDP Growth (09-14) Score: 84.17   Rank: 105

Largest City – New Bern, NC, Pop. 30,101, as of 2016, is the county seat of Craven county.

Higher Education
Craven Community College

Economy and Employers
Largest Employers -  Department Of Defense (MCAS Cherry Point), Craven County Schools, Craven Regional Medical Center, BSH Home Appliances Corporation (Other Significant Employers) – Moen, Marine Corp Community Services                 

Public Transportation – CARTS - The system operates a fleet of 32 vehicles, including specially modified vans to accommodate the elderly and/or handicapped and a variety of other vehicles such as standard vans, converted vans, mini-buses and sedans.
vs 2010 MSA rank: 0
Pop: 2010 (122,623) - 2016 (124,150) = +1.25%
Milken 2009:(--)   -  2013:(76) - 2016: (164)
U3 Unemployment (January): 2009: (--) - 2017: (--)
Gallup Healthway - 2013:(--)  -  2016:(--)
Per Capita personal income   2008: ($31,491)  to  2015: ($35,801)  = +13.68%

5-yr Job Growth (10-15) Score: 91.04 Rank: 182
5-yr Wages & Salaries Growth (09-14) Score: 91.04 Rank: 167
5-yr Relative HT GDP Growth (09-14) Score: 90.56   Rank: 60

Largest City – Goldsboro, NC, Pop. 35,792, as of 2016, is the county seat of Wayne county.

Higher Education
Wayne Community College, North Carolina Wesleyan College - Goldsboro campus

Economy and Employers
Wayne County Board Of Education, Nc Dept Of Health & Human Services, Wayne Memorial Hospital Inc,                       Wal-Mart Associates Inc, County Of Wayne, Case Farms Processing Inc, Mount  (Other Significant Employers) – US Defense Department (Seymour Johnson Air Force Base), Olive Pickle Company, Georgia-Pacific

Public Transportation – Goldsboro Wayne Transportation Authority (Gateway) – Bus System