Amid tough times, Raleigh economy experiencing growth

Posted October 6, 2008

— If the hustle and bustle on Fayetteville Street in downtown Raleigh means anything, it looks like this Main Street USA is doing OK.

An analysis by Moody's puts Raleigh in the handful of metropolitan areas – 14 percent – that are experiencing economic growth instead of recession.

"Our diverse economy really helps us – that is, that we have lots of different businesses, including small- or medium-sized ones that are growing," Mayor Charles Meeker said. "We also have a lot of health care and education here, and those are very solid businesses, even in hard times."

Mike Walden, an economist at North Carolina State University says the city has been hit, just not as hard as other cities, like Charlotte.

According to Moody's report, the Queen City is one of the nation's 250 metropolitan areas already in a recession. Seventy-six more are at risk.

"Yes, we have suffered through economic downturn, but we haven't suffered as much as many other regions," Walden said.

Some small-business owners in downtown Raleigh, however, say business has been slipping for the past year.

"We've been off considerably, and all the other people I've talked to, other small-businessmen echoed the same sentiments," said Joe Sciolino, who's owned Joe's Place restaurant in downtown Raleigh for 25 years.

So what does Sciolino think about Raleigh's good economic news?

"My dad always said, 'Figures lie and liars figure.' So, I don't believe it," Sciolino said.

He says he hopes that the city's new convention center will help improve business for him and others in downtown Raleigh.

Mayor Meeker says especially given the events on Wall Street in the past month, the city has to greet any positive economic news with cautious optimism.


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  • Heel from Hell Oct 7, 2008

    Most of the negative comments on here are related to construction and real estate. Yes, that's definitely a sector that's going to feel the pinch so I feel for you guys. Hope you buried your nuts for the winter.

    Government is probably the Raleigh sector that is most insulated from the downturn...they'll spend more and tax more. Why? Because in a few short weeks, their bi-annual job interviews are over.

  • veyor Oct 7, 2008

    When many of us are finally going out of this recession, many more will be going in. Trust me.

  • eternalrage83 Oct 7, 2008

    I hope the mayor knows what usually happens when you get to the top of the hill. You have to come back down and in this economy I can not imagine it being a fun ride.

  • DrJ Oct 7, 2008

    My impression is most people in Raleigh are doing just fine economically. But as the media constantly works to scare them about the economy, their natural reaction is to take a wait and see approach, and tighten their spending. The people that get hurt in that scenario are generally the ones that provide "wants," rather than "needs."

    People need to eat, but going to a restaurant may seem like wasteful when you're constantly being told the economy is about to bust.

  • Southern Fried Yankee Oct 7, 2008

    Hmmm...the economy is bad, but I can't even get a contractor to come out and shoot me an estimate for a small front porch addition to my house because the job is "too small"....

    Obviously, the contractors aren't hungry enough.

    Maybe if I sugar it up with a whole house paint job and some soffit repairs the job will be "big enough".

  • Scubagirl Oct 7, 2008

    Interesting that the city is doing OK but all residents are doing poorly. How does that compute?

  • Seeminglyopposed Oct 7, 2008

    He must not own or operate a small business, nor the economists who said that Raleigh hasn't yet to see the fall out as other cities. We moved here in 1980, doing masonry work, and went from rag to riches. Trust me it is back almost to rags. And saving was not a hill of beans when this economy has been slowly on the downrise for sometime. I agree with the interview with the owner of Joes' downtown. "Growth is killing us, and it is who is growing that is making it worse". The largest percentage of growth, their money is not being put back into Raleigh.

  • saltnsanddefenderofdamiddleclass Oct 6, 2008

    mr mayor there is nothing good about growth. it's bad enough you built that convention center which uses water but to encourage growth is a travesty. i do not want anymore lectures from the governor on taking navy showers or how to brush teeth. next you'll want restaurants and swimming pools. the madness has got to stop. if you want growth then we need a citywide ban on grass and plants. no more car washing cause you know that car washing will drain a lake in no time and swimming pools should have to be filled in and one of those time light art things placed on top. then and only then can we have growth in this area.

  • tbfromnc Oct 6, 2008

    well, ask the architectural, engineering and building companies if they agree with this assesment of raleigh's economy. i'm a small businessman connected to the building business in the raleigh and surrounding area. My best year ever was 2007 and my worst year is 2008. This is not a short term assesment on my part, I have been in business 41 years in the wake county area.
    From what i'm hearing and what i'm experiencing, it's going to get a whole lot worse before it gets better.

    In 90 days, we'll see if Mr. Meeker still has this notion.

  • bs101fly Oct 6, 2008

    Meekerville is NOT immune, our time is coming and it won't be much longer.
    we're ALL about to take a bath in bailout/handout debt and as far as growth, that is something our retirement accounts won't be seeing for a couple of MORE decades!
    Enjoy the convention center Charles, it won't be long before the shows cancel because they can't afford to travel here!
    and we'll be out of water again!