DURHAM — Thecity of Durham's economy is on a roll, and technology is setting the city up for a bright future.
Durham was a tobacco and textile town for many years, but in a state of the economy report released Tuesday, leaders showed that Durham is thriving in today's high-tech economy.
The Bull City can be proud of the economic picture its leaders are painting. Wages there are the highest in the state, and unemployment is low.
Crime is down, and there are more police officers on the streets. High-tech firms likeRed Hatare attracting millions of dollars in venture capital.
Companies inRTPare paying the city millions in property taxes.
"We're seeing more high-tech firms. Especially in the south, Durham has grown tremendously in the last few years. It's now moving to east Durham, especially in the residential area," said Ted Abernathy, manager of theOffice of Economic and Employment Development.
Downtown Durham is also making a comeback. The West Village Apartments now under construction by Blue Devil Ventures will open soon. The city issued 100 permits for other downtown projects last year.
"I think that's a high value for everybody to see the downtown restored as one of our centers. We have tremendous opportunity to make that happen," explainedMayor Nick Tennyson.
There is some room for improvement. Durham lags behind other North Carolina cities in attracting retail sales which make up 20 percent of the city's budget.
Leaders are banking on projects like theSouthpoint Mallto increase sales tax revenue.
"Certainly adding new products to the market like Southpoint will bring business in from surrounding counties. That will help our tax base," said Abernathy.
The Southpoint Mall is projected to ring up between $200-300 million in revenue each year. Two percent of that goes into the city's budget to pay for things like police officers and firefighters.