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Raleigh, NC
MSA: Raleigh-Cary, NC
Best places ranking: #3 among large metro areas
Population: 1,088,765
The capital city of the Tar Heel state attracts entrepreneurs with its quality family life and highly educated workforce. The region is known for Research Triangle Park, a tech epicenter that draws a diverse group of international minds.

Raleigh is centrally located a few hours west of the coast and a few hours east of the Appalachian mountains -- both popular destinations for vacations. The region has a mild climate with four distinct seasons, although summer can be a bit hot. Housing is affordable compared to other parts of the country with comparably competitive technology markets, an advantage that attracts young professionals eager to start a family.

So many of them have flocked to Raleigh bedroom communities like Cary that locals nicknamed it "Containment Area for Relocated Yankees." The city's downtown region is experiencing a renaissance, with new restaurants and more night life options. Raleigh's downtown is also undergoing a makeover. The city recently built an impressive convention center, providing a space for business meetings and conferences.

Residents and business owners alike benefit from a strong higher education system, including North Carolina State University in Raleigh, Duke University in Durham, and the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill. The top-tier research institutions produce a well-educated pool of graduates to fill competitive jobs in biotech, financial services, and engineering. -Catherine Clifford

Launch Toolbox:
Resources for getting started in Raleigh, NC


Local smallbiz lenders

  • BB&T Corporation
  • Superior Financial Group
  • Surrey Bancorp
  • American Heritage Holdings
  • Innovative Bank
See all local lenders

Raleigh Business Statistics
Employer establishments with 1-49 employees
27,659 78,289
Small business growth rate
12.5% 5.3%
State business tax climate ranking
(out of 50 states)
39 N/A
Percentage of population with bachelor's degree
(ages 25-34)
43.4% 32.7%
Violent crime
(rate per 100,000 inhabitants, 2007)
325.6 537.6
Property crime
(rate per 100,000 inhabitants, 2007)
2,763.7 3,700.0
Population growth
22.5% 6.38%
Per-capita income
$39,373 $41,342
Per-capita income growth
18.8% 25.0%
GDP (in millions)
$47,851 $164,601
GDP growth
32% 32%
Average hourly wage
$20.27 $21.03
Housing foreclosure rate
(first half of 2009, 1 per every X housing units)
210 113
Median rent
(2009, for a 2-bedroom housing unit)
$838 $981
Housing price-to-income (HPI) ratio
(first quarter of 2009)
2.1% 1.8%
Long-term HPI ratio
(20-year average, 1984-2004)
1.9% 1.9%
HPI deviation from long-term average
10.9% 0.0%

All statistics are for the full Metropolitan Statistical Area. For a complete list of data sources, see "How we picked the Best Places."

From the November 2009 issue
"We researched towns all over the Southeast, and we landed on Raleigh. One reason we landed here was that they have an astronomical school system and they are very near Research Triangle Park. The intellectual capital is really up there." -Lou Jurkowski
Best Places Winners
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The factors that matter most to me are:
 Affordable wages  Few foreclosures
 Educated workers  Low housing costs
 Low crime  High local incomes
 A growing economy  Population growth
 Growing small business population

ireportTell us why: Low taxes? Talented workers? An active small business community? Send us your photos and videos, and you could be featured in our upcoming coverage of reader-picked Best Places to Launch. More
This year we partnered with the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation to find the 50 most business-friendly communities in America.

With help from Robert Fairlie, an economist and leading scholar of entrepreneurship at the University of California, Santa Cruz, we developed a methodology and sifted through such data on factors such as per capita income, hourly wages, workforce quality, crime rates, taxes and foreclosures. More

Comments? E-mail the editors
Data partners

This package was produced in partnership with the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation.

Foreclosure data provided by RealtyTrac.

Housing price-to-income data provided by Moody's