Local News

Triangle manages to duck national economic storm – so far

Posted September 18, 2008 6:59 p.m. EDT
Updated September 18, 2008 10:13 p.m. EDT

— Despite financial market worries in recent days and economic doldrums nationally, the Triangle appears to be holding steady. The question is: how long can that last?

"I think, by and large, our market place is resilient and will continue to be so," said Harvey Schmitt, president and chief executive of the Greater Raleigh Chamber of Commerce.

"I think, as you take a look at the makeup of our market and take a look at the areas that are most heavily challenged nationally, those are not as major a player in our economy – real estate, retail, financial services," Schmitt said. "While there are elements of those here, we are very well-positioned to weather downturns in those areas."

In March, Raleigh claimed the top spot on Forbes magazine's "Best Places for Business and Careers" list.

The magazine cited local business costs that are 14 percent below the national average and the educated work force in the Triangle – 38 percent of adults possess a college degree, including 12 percent with a graduate degree.

In a study by National Association of Colleges and Employers, or NACE, Raleigh ranked fourth among major metropolitan areas for job prospects. That report was commissioned by Bizjournals, which includes the Triangle Business Journal

In June, MSNBC.com ranked Raleigh as the best place to be in the U.S. right now. In Fortune Small Business magazine, Raleigh was No. 20 among a list of best places to live.

None of those accolades confer immunity for economy-wide disruptions like the current mortgage and credit crunches, but the Triangle's unusual blend of university, government and research jobs does help.

"I think we're going to do fine. It's not going to be easy. We're going to have some of the same wind in our faces as other places, but we're in a much better position than most places in the world,” said Schmitt.

The tumult in financial markets and the disappearance of corporate giants have shaken people's faith in the economy. On Wall Street, the fear is that more significant financial companies will fall, causing a spillover effect within the United States and on world markets.

The retail industry is preparing for a critical holiday season that was already expected to show the weakest growth in almost two decades.

People shopping Thursday at Cameron Village with whom WRAL News spoke with said they are cutting back.

Business owners told WRAL that they are not yet feeling the impact of people cutting back on personal spending, however.