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Despite Economic Downturn, Some Triangle Businesses Thrive

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RALEIGH — Right now, "layoff" is the Research Triangle's most infamous seven letter word. But an N.C. State economist believes lower interest rates will turn around the business climate soon.

"The Fed started lowering rates in the beginning of this year and they've been doing it ever since. So if you push things out six months to a year, that would call for a prediction of an improving economy in the second half of this year and clearly into 2002," said Micahel Walden.

There are companies in high gear right now, and places where consumers believe they can get a bargain, like used car chain Carmax.

"Certainly when I check the prices versus what I could get other place new car dealerships for example, I was real comfortable with the price I could get here," said Doug Wilson.

Carmax has gone from a $40 million loss two years ago to a projected profit of $110 million this year.

Meanwhile, Target's July sales jumped five percent over a year ago, quadrupling analysts' expectations. Discount retailers have edged out their pricier department store counterparts. Fears about the economy are cited as the main factor.

"There are jobs in the Research Triangle Park we thought would be there forever, and lot of those jobs, they're laying a lot of people off, and with the Midway change in the past couple of days, I think it's made us more cost conscious," said Target customer Karen Bell.

Of course, businesses like Target and Carmax probably are not the kinds of places where unemployed RTP workers would apply for jobs. There is another group these companies may appeal to though: investors.


Len Besthoff, Reporter
Joe Frieda, Photographer
Julian King, Web Editor

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