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Raleigh tops Forbes list of most-popular metros

Posted April 14, 2009

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— Despite the economic downturn, the Raleigh-Cary area grew by more than 4 percent last year, making it the nation's fastest-growing metro area, according to Forbes magazine.

The magazine rated Raleigh as the No. 1 city where Americans are relocating. Charlotte was third on the list, behind Austin, Texas.

Downtown Raleigh sign Raleigh area a magnet for job-seekers

"In the last five or six years, Raleigh has been recognized with a lot of accolades," said Ken Atkins, senior vice president for economic development for the Greater Raleigh Chamber of Commerce.

Atkins said rankings like Raleigh's three straight years atop Forbes' annual list of the Best Places for Business and Careers have attracted people as well as attention.

Edward Appel, who recently moved to the Triangle from California to work with HCL Technologies, is one of the latest transplants.

"I first heard about Raleigh from the article in Forbes," said Appel, a senior systems engineer with the software and information technology development firm. "The fact that there are so many large universities here in close proximity was a great selling point."

HCL is setting up an office in Cary that officials expect to employ 500 people within a few years. Appel said the area's low cost of living also helped the Triangle beat out 19 other locations for the new office.

"On the West Coast, we all know that (the) Silicon Valley of the East is the Research Triangle," he said, adding that he knows people who have moved to Raleigh without jobs expecting to find work in the area.

The Raleigh-Cary area had an unemployment rate of 8.8 percent in February, with a net loss of 700 jobs, as the recession deepened across North Carolina. Statewide, the unemployment rate was a record 11.3 percent in February.

Atkins said other technology companies also are looking to locate or expand in the area, but he declined to elaborate.

"My feeling is that this market is at the bottom. I think that we are going to see some significant new announcements in growth coming up in probably ... (the) third quarter of this year," he said.


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