This article is a continuation of the last article, Hickory Metro's Economy versus similar U.S. MSAs. Here, I compare all of the Metropolitan Statistical Areas within the State of North Carolina. The Hickory-Lenoir-Morganton MSA is the seventh largest MSA and the fifth largest if Raleigh and Durham are combined and if Greensboro and Winston-Salem are combined. There are 13 areas included in this analysis.
The Milken Institute splits its analysis into two segments, the top 200 markets and 124 small markets. There are 9 NC metro areas that fall within the Large Market analysis. The smallest of those cities is Wilmington with an MSA population of 339,511. It is the 145th largest market in the United States. The small market category includes markets smaller than the top 200 markets. Three markets in our state are included in Milken's small market analysis. Those cities are Greenville, Rocky Mount, and Burlington.
Our state's MSA populations range from a high end of the nation's 34th largest market (Charlotte) 1,701,799 to a low end of (Goldsboro, North Carolina) 113,590. We have many diverse populations within our state. The large market population growth, since 2000, saw these cities range from a high of (Raleigh) 36.6% to a low of (Fayetteville) 3.66%. Out of these 9 cities, 7 had higher population growth rates than Hickory. 4 of these cities (Raleigh, Charlotte, Wilmington, and Durham) had growth rates above 10% and 3 (Winston-Salem, Asheville, and Greensboro) had a growth rates 0ver 8.5%. Hickory's growth rate was the second worst amongst major metros in North Carolina.
"The Milken Institute/Greenstreet Real Estate Partners Best Performing Cities Index ranks U.S. metropolitan areas by how well they are creating and sustaining jobs and economic growth. The components include job, wage and salary, and technology growth. The full report can be downloaded here."
5-Year Job Growth - Metropolitan area job growth relative to the United States average between 2002 and 2007. U.S. average = 100.0
5-Year Wages & Salaries Growth - Salary and Wage disbursements growth relative to the United States average between 2001 and 2006. U.S. average = 100.0
5-Year Relative High Tech GDP Growth - High tech sector output growth relative to the United States average between 2002 and 2007. U.S. average = 100.0
34 Charlotte-Gastonia-Concord, NC-SC Milken rank - 26 Unemp = 12.4% Pop. 1,701,799
5-yr Job Growth (02-06) 105.62 Rank: 35
5-yr Wages & Salaries Growth Score: 106.86 Rank: 49
5-yr Relative HT GDP Growth (2002-2007) Score: 94.13 Rank: 125
Population Growth since 2000 - +27.91%
Largest City – Charlotte (estimated to be 716,874 in 2009)
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).
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. 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.
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.
50 Raleigh-Cary, NC Milken rank - 2 Unemp = 9.1% Pop. 1,088,765
5-yr Job Growth (02-06) 113.07 Rank: 11
5-yr Wages & Salaries Growth Score: 105.86 Rank: 11
5-yr Relative HT GDP Growth (2002-2007) Score: 101.98 Rank: 83
Population Growth since 2000 - A007+36.60%
Largest city – Raleigh - - (Capital of North Carolina) population on July 1, 2008 was 392,552 (a 42% increase from the 2000 Census), making Raleigh the 8th fastest growing city in the United States
Higher Education – (Public) - North Carolina State University, Wake Technical Community College, (Private)- Meredith College, Peace College, Shaw University, St. Augustine's College, In addition, the Campbell University Norman Adrian Wiggins School of Law has announced that it will move to downtown Raleigh from the nearby town of Buies Creek by 2009. (Private, for profit) - ECPI College of Technology, School of Communication Arts, Strayer University, Mitchell's Hair Styling Academy, The Emerald Academy - A Paul Mitchell Partner School
Economy and Employers
The State of North Carolina. Raleigh's industrial base includes electrical, medical, electronic and telecommunications equipment; clothing and apparel; food processing; paper products; and pharmaceuticals. Raleigh is part of North Carolina's Research Triangle, one of the country's largest and most successful research parks and a major center in the United States for high-tech and biotech research, as well as advanced textile development. The city is a major retail shipping point for eastern North Carolina and a wholesale distributing point for the grocery industry.
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.
72 Greensboro-High Point, NC Milken rank -141 Unemp = 12.1% Pop. 698,497
5-yr Job Growth (02-06) 98.45 Rank: 132
5-yr Wages & Salaries Growth Score: 94.73 Rank: 167
5-yr Relative HT GDP Growth (2002-2007) Score: 88.07 Rank: 158
Population Growth since 2000 - A144+8.56%
Largest City – Greensboro (estimated 2007 population was 248,111)
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.
103 Durham, NC Milken rank - 21 Unemp = 8.4% Pop. 479,624
5-yr Job Growth (02-06) 102.34 Rank: 70
5-yr Wages & Salaries Growth Score: 99.78 Rank: 111
5-yr Relative HT GDP Growth (2002-2007)6 Score: 94.76 Rank: 121
Population Growth since 2000 - +13.17%
Largest City – Durham Pop. 217,847 residents as of July 1, 2007 is the fifth largest city in the state.
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.
105 Winston-Salem, NC Milken rank - 99 Unemp = 10.4% Pop. 463,159
5-yr Job Growth (02-06) 99.91 Rank: 104
5-yr Wages & Salaries Growth Score: 95.36 Rank: 158
5-yr Relative HT GDP Growth (2002-2007) Score: 119.92 Rank: 18
Population Growth since 2000 - +9.76%
Largest City – Winston-Salem Pop. 224,889 fourth-largest city in the state. Winston-Salem is the second largest municipality in the Piedmont Triad region
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.
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).
122 Asheville, NC Milken rank - 46 Unemp = 9.2% Pop. 404,320
5-yr Job Growth (02-06) 103.90 Rank: 52
5-yr Wages & Salaries Growth Score: 100.48 Rank: 100
5-yr Relative HT GDP Growth (2002-2007) Score: 98.27 Rank: 94
Population Growth since 2000 - +9.52%
Largest City - Asheville's population as of 2007 was 73,875
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. Asheville's largest employers - Ingles Markets, Mission Health System, City of Asheville, The Biltmore Company, Buncombe County Government, The Grove Park Inn Resort & Spa, VA Medical Center, BorgWarner, CarePartners, Eaton Corporation
Public Transportation –
The city operates the Asheville Transit System, which consists of several bus lines connecting parts of the city and surrounding areas.
138 Hickory-Lenoir-Morganton, NC Milken rank -191 Unemp = 15.4% Pop. 360,471
5-yr Job Growth (02-06) 91.09 Rank: 193
5-yr Wages & Salaries Growth Score: 86.91 Rank: 195
5-yr Relative HT GDP Growth (2002-2007) Score: 93.90 Rank: 130
Population Growth since 2000 - +5.46%
Largest City – Hickory (Pop. 42,000)
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 Hickory area is home to many leading manufacturers of furniture (before most jobs in that industry were shipped over to China) and fiber optic cable. It is estimated that 60% of the nation's furniture used to be produced within a 200-mile (320 km) radius of Hickory. Forty percent of the world's fiber optic cable is made in the Hickory area. Lenoir is the headquarters of Broyhill Furniture company, one of the largest furniture companies in the United States and part of Furniture Brands International. It has historically been one of the town's largest employers. The Bernhardt and Fairfield furniture companies are also located in Lenoir. However, in the 1990s, these companies began outsourcing their work overseas, and they have closed many of Lenoir's furniture factories and laid off workers, causing many local businesses either to close or move to other cities. This has harmed the economy in Lenoir, leaving many households living below the poverty line.Google, Inc. has commenced construction of and opened a server farm in Lenoir. The move, it is hoped, will boost the local economy and provide much-needed jobs for the area, which has been harmed by outsourcing of furniture manufacturing jobs overseas.
143 Fayetteville, NC Milken rank - 52 Unemp = 9.4% Pop. 348,940
5-yr Job Growth (02-06) 104.79 Rank: 41
5-yr Wages & Salaries Growth Score: 117.71 Rank: 11
5-yr Relative HT GDP Growth (2002-2007) Score: 98.86 Rank: 88
Population Growth since 2000 - +3.66%
Largest City - Fayetteville (Pop. 121,015 as of the 2000 Census)
Fayetteville State University, Methodist University, Fayetteville Technical Community College
Economy and Employers –
Fort Bragg and Pope Air Force Base. The Kelly-Springfield Tire Co., Black & Decker,
145 Wilmington, NC Milken rank - 6 Unemp = 10.3% Pop. 339,511
5-yr Job Growth (02-06) 115.90 Rank: 8
5-yr Wages & Salaries Growth Score: 111.26 Rank: 23
5-yr Relative HT GDP Growth (2002-2007) Score: 148.44 Rank: 4
Population Growth since 2000 - +23.67%
A July 1, 2008 United States Census Bureau estimate places the population at 100,192
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.
Public Transportation –
Public transit in the area is provided by the Cape Fear Public Transportation Authority. , which operates fixed bus routes, shuttles, and a free downtown trolley under the brand name Wave Transit.
124 Smallest Metros
231 Greenville, NC Milken rank - 22 Unemp = 11.3% Pop. 172,473
5-yr Job Growth (02-06) 109.80 Rank: 16
5-yr Wages & Salaries Growth Score: 102.51 Rank: 60
5-yr Relative HT GDP Growth (2002-2007) Score: 84.48 Rank: 104
Population Growth since 2000 - A079+12.90%
Largest City – Greenville 75,482 as of July 1, 2007
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
Public Transportation The City of Greenville operates a mass transit bus system called Greenville Area Transit or GREAT.
276 Rocky Mount, NC Milken rank - 93 Unemp = 14.4% Pop. 145,596
5-yr Job Growth(02-06) 97.54 Rank: 87
5-yr Wages & Salaries Growth Score: 89.10 Rank: 118
5-yr Relative HT GDP Growth (2002-2007) Score: 80.30 Rank: 109
Population Growth since 2000 - +1.80%
Largest City - Rocky Mount (As of 2007, the city's population was 56,844)
Post-secondary institutions include Nash Community College,Shaw University, North Carolina Wesleyan College and Edgecombe Community College
Economy and Employers –
Abbott Laboratories, McLane (a food distribution subsidiary of Wal-Mart), Tarboro Textiles
278 Burlington, NC Milken rank - 57 Unemp = 12.4% Pop. 145,360
5-yr Job Growth(02-06) 96.75 Rank: 92
5-yr Wages & Salaries Growth Score: 91.17 Rank: 110
5-yr Relative HT GDP Growth (2002-2007) Score: 108.87 Rank: 48
Population Growth since 2000 - +11.13%
Largest City - Ann Arbor (7th largest city in Michigan, Pop. 114,024 as of the 2000 Census)
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. Alamance General Medical Center, GKN Driveline, GKN Driveline Glen Raven
346 Goldsboro, NC Milken rank - n/a Unemp = 9.3% Pop. 113,590
5-yr Job Growth(02-06) n/a Rank: n/a
5-yr Wages & Salaries Growth Score: n/a Rank: n/a
5-yr Relative HT GDP Growth (2002-2007) Score: n/a Rank: n/a
Population Growth since 2000 - +.23%
Largest City - Goldsboro - Pop. 38,023 in 2006
Wayne Community College, North Carolina Wesleyan College - Goldsboro campus
Economy and Employers –
Seymour Johnson Air Force Base, Goldsboro Milling, Case farms, Mount Olive Pickle Company, Georgia Pacific, Cooper Standard Automotive, Franklin Baking, Waukesha Electric Systems, Wayne Memorial Hospital, Cherry Hospital, Berry Hospital, AT&T Technical support Center
The Hound is saddened to look at these numbers. When I look at these numbers and relate them to the nine markets in this analysis, here is what I see. Hickory (#191) is the only city in the bottom quartile of Milken's national analysis. Greensboro is the only other city in the bottom half (#141). The rest are in the top half and 5 MSAs are in the top quartile (Raleigh #2, Wilmington #6. Durham #21, Charlotte #26, and Asheville #46). Why is Hickory so far down this list and what are we going to do to correct this?
What these numbers show is that most of these cities did fairly well when it comes to growing their job base, but only Wilmington (#8) and Raleigh's (#11) numbers are truly impressive. Wage and Salary growth numbers were excellent for Raleigh (#11), Fayetteville (#11), Wilmington (#23), and Charlotte (#49), but they weren't very good for the other markets and Hickory's number is about as bad as it can get. What is even more important to see is that this state is falling way behind when it comes to developing High Tech Industries. Only Wilmington (#4) and Winston-Salem (#18) are doing well. Most everyone else isn't even in the ball park.
It is just sad that our state has no leadership. There are certainly some bright spots, but for the most part we can see that our state is happy with the status quo. Once again we see that tug of war between the old way and the new way. We can certainly see that Wilmington, Raleigh, and Charlotte are fairing well, but I think the rest of the state is putting a drag on their current ability to grow. Look at the Unemployment numbers. Raleigh-Durham, Asheville, Fayetteville, and Goldsboro are the only areas that are fairing as well or better than the nation. Hickory and Rocky Mount (two cities with Corning in common) are in a class by themselves when it comes to unemployment.
I think Raleigh and Wilmington are enjoying the fruits of reaching out to the Creative Class and the Knowledge Economy. Wilmington has moved forward with the Entertainment Industry and Raleigh has the Research Triangle Park. It also looks like Winston-Salem is enjoying growth in the Tech sector of its economy after investing many resources towards that endeavor. The tech numbers for this state truly sadden me. In the 80s and 90s, I certainly had the sense that the State of North Carolina was ahead of the curve in its investments in technology. What happened to the foundation we were building? Why did we stop? It is more than obvious that we have frittered our progress away.
As far as Hickory, it is easy to see how we have gotten into the predicament we are currently in, we haven't invested in the future. Compared to the other large markets, we are 9th in job growth, 9th in wage growth, and 8th in High-Tech GDP. We're just trying to get through the day. We have adapted down and we aren't laying a foundation to foster excellence. In relation to the rest of this state; we aren't growing jobs, we aren't paying people anything, and we aren't moving toward a High-Tech economy. We're sitting around, waiting to see what everyone else does before making decisions. What if every municipality in the country did that? Can you name one program that was ever innovated, initiated and implemented by our local government?
When you always follow, like that, then you will be lucky to get scraps. We have to do some things to kickstart our economy. We're going to have to take some chances and think outside of the box. If we don't soon start growing our economy, then raising taxes, fees, and/or cutting services will be inevitable. People are going to have to realize that you can't keep taxes low, if you have a shrinking tax base. If people aren't working, then they aren't paying taxes. If people leave town to seek work, then they won't be paying taxes here. If businesses shut their doors, then adios to that tax revenue. Those people that are left, and able, will have to share the burden.
When it comes to the Tech and Creative Industries in this state, it is more than obvious that we don't have much to follow. I have a novel concept for our local leaders, why don't we take the bull by the horns, get out in front, and initiate some action?
As I continued in the comments section of the last article, when looking at these similar sized communities across the nation, how their stats relate to Hickory, and the things that we can do to improve our economy; I can see the need to address a couple of items that can help foster development of the creative economy in our community.
We are amassing a lot of medical industry capacities, because of our central location and aging population. Why not somehow foster the ASU-Hickory partnership towards the Healthcare industry and a program to facilitate the development of Doctors and other Medical Professionals. If it isn't feasible to associate with App State in such a way, then why not UNC-Chapel Hill. There needs to be an affordable medical school on this side of the state. Peoria, Rockford, and Evansville are cities, that are close to our metro's size, that have satellite medical branches of their state universities.
I would also like to see L-R develop a law program. I see excellent private University Law Schools at Duke, Wake Forest, and Campbell. We need a Law school in this area and we have many excellent Lawyers available to join in the teaching process. Attorneys with a vested interest in Hickory can help advocate our status in Raleigh.
These are only a couple of suggestions. What do y'all think?
*** The info above was found on Wikipedia and a few other sites.
Hickory is #183 in 5-year job growth. This makes us #9 in the state.
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