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Raleigh ranked top city for businesses

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The nation’s economy is doing fine and Raleigh is doing even finer – the Raleigh metropolitan area has the nation’s No. 1 business climate, according to Forbes magazine.

An article posted on the magazine’s web site on Wednesday ranked Raleigh No. 1 in its annual survey of best places for businesses and careers. This year’s survey marked a return for Raleigh to the top spot, which if held from 2007-2009. Last year, it was No. 3.

“Fueling Raleigh’s consistent results are business costs that are 18 percent below the national average, and an adult population where 42 percent have a college degree,” the article noted, adding that that was the 12th best rate in the nation, well ahead of the 30 percent national average. The article cited a familiar list of assets for the area, such as the prevalence of highly rated universities, an abundance of healthy and growing companies such as Cisco Systems and GlaxoSmithKline, and the area’s appeal to newcomers.

The survey rated the 200 largest metro areas on a dozen factors related to jobs, costs (business and living), income growth, quality of life and education of the labor force.

Raleigh is hardly alone in having a healthy economic climate; Forbes noted that the nation as a whole is recovering nicely from the recession that began in 2008. The article noted that U.S. employers added 288,000 jobs in June, the unemployment rate fell to 6.1%, the lowest rate since the financial crisis peaked in the fall of 2008, and the stock market this year 17,000 for the first time.

But not all areas are recovering at the same pace. Indeed, most of the other Top 10 cities were in the Midwest or West. (The rest of the Top 5 were Des Moines, Iowa; Provo, Utah; and Denver and Fort Collins in Colorado.) Raleigh was the only city in the East Coast ranked in the Top 10.

The Raleigh area faces bright prospects for future growth, the article predicted: “Raleigh also prospers from small businesses facing low regulatory hurdles compared to other cities. Projected annual job growth for the Raleigh area is 3.7 percent through 2016, which ranks seventh best among the 200 biggest metro areas.”

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