2016 Outlook for Charlotte: Economic Momentum to Continue
Queen City can expect consistent job creation, entrepreneurial development in 2016.
It seems like Charlotte is constantly being recognized in lists and awards, and for those who live and work in the Queen City, it’s no secret as to why. As a blossoming metropolitan, Charlotte is rising to become the apex city of the Southeast and through growth, higher quality of life, and a booming real estate market, Charlotte is becoming a hot spot for everyone from young professionals to bankers to families. 2015 was a fantastic year for Charlotte and as our economic climate remains strong, city officials and experts are predicting another prosperous year.
The Charlotte MSA area is home to upwards of 2.3 million residents, with over 800,000 of them living within the City of Charlotte. As the official headquarters of Bank of America, Duke Energy and over 50 companies on the Inc. 5000 list, Charlotte has become a target city for corporations looking to expand. Our powerful startup culture has bred a class of passionate and tenacious entrepreneurs that bring new light and innovation to our city every day. Our thriving housing market, coupled with a warm climate and a plethora of attractions, is drawing people from all over the country that are seeking a higher quality of life for a lower cost of living. Home to the Panthers, Hornets, and Checkers, as well as the U.S. National White Water Center, NASCAR Hall of Fame and the NC Music Factory, Charlotte has a little bit of everything for everyone.
As 2015 comes to a close, residents, business owners, students, and prospective Charlotteans wonder what 2016 holds for the Queen City. After working closely with business owners in Charlotte for over 20 years, our team at Viking has a pretty good pulse on the direction Charlotte is heading in and statistics and projections are right on par with us. We are going to explore a few segments of Charlotte’s economy that show us the Queen City is on track for growth, expansion and success in 2016.
The Great Recession of 2008/2009 hit Charlotte hard. As a smaller metropolitan area, it felt as though the rug had been pulled out from under a city that was just starting to really take off. Thousands of people lost their jobs and hundreds of small businesses had to close their doors. In a time that impacted all corners of our country, Charlotte remained resilient. While Charlotte was deeply affected by the recession, the financial crisis hit our city later than most and ultimately, helped us recover faster. Since the recession, Charlotte ranks #9 for Recession Recovery and its professionals have worked overtime to restore the city’s thriving economy. One of the telltale signs of a healed economy is unemployment and job status. Currently, Charlotte’s unemployment rate is at 4.5% with a 2.8% annual growth rate and over the past year, Charlotte has added over 111,000 jobs. The city’s job creation initiatives have earned them the #25 spot on Forbes list of Best Cities for Job Growth and #14 Best Places for Business and Careers.
2016 is expected to be the best year to buy a home in Charlotte since 2005. The Queen City has been ranked #3 in Top Real Estate Markets to Watch by the Urban Land Institute due to surging construction activity, population increases and a growing economy. To accommodate population growth, developers are planning to build 12,300 apartments in areas like SouthPark and Uptown. Known as a ‘transplant city’, Charlotte is a target city for professionals looking to build their careers. “Charlotte’s not just a banking city anymore” says Jay Offerdahl, President of Viking Mergers & Acquisitions, “We have big business with energy, medical, and home improvement and that’s bringing more people to the Carolina’s, mainly Charlotte”. Charlotte is ranked the #3 Top Moving Destination by United Van Lines, and the low cost of real estate, professional climate, and ease of employment are main factors.
The Queen City has really built a name for itself in terms of entrepreneurship and a start-up culture. “The startup trend was sparked when the downturn forced people to think about earning a living outside of a job” says Jay Offerdahl, “It created a younger entrepreneur by default; there wasn’t any other options for work”. Since the downturn, Charlotte has come back as an economic powerhouse, offering a place for entrepreneurs to build and grow their dreams in a robust start-up atmosphere. SBA loans are being granted more frequently than ever, interest rates are low and the flourishing economy have made Charlotte a great place to start or buy a business. In 2014, Charlotte was named the #1 Most Entrepreneurial City by Global Trade Magazine named and also #1 for Growth in Number of Businesses by WalletHub. “The city is transient and people aren’t hooked to their family legacy of doing business which opens doors for new businesses to grow”, says Jay Offerdahl, “Entrepreneurship in Charlotte is growing at an unprecedented rate and we want to be there for all stages of the small business life cycle”.
The population in Charlotte is growing at an astonishing rate; city officials are excited to say that Charlotte has finally surpassed Raleigh when it comes to growth rates and the city can expect the population to double by 2030. Charlotte’s always been known as a ‘big city but still a small town’, but to really put the population into perspective, more people live in Charlotte than in Wyoming, Vermont, Alaska or North Dakota. Jay Offerdahl explains the influx of new residents to the Queen City; “Housing is affordable, new jobs are created every day, there’s a ton of fun things to do” Jay explains, “From millennials to baby boomers, people from all walks of life are seeing the positives of living here”. Between 2010-2014, Charlotte gained nearly 80,000 residents and was named the 2nd Fastest Growing Big City by Forbes, just after Fort Worth.
Quality of Life
So why is Charlotte such a great place to be? Several factors play into this answer. To start, Charlotte’s cost of living is 1.3% below the national average, and when compared to other major cities, Charlotteans can expect major saving in the cost of living. Compared to Los Angeles, nearly all expenses are less than they are in the Golden State, but the biggest savings can be found in housing, which is 61% less. Compared to New York City, groceries, utilities and healthcare rack up to double digit savings as well. Aside from the cost of living, Charlotteans can enjoy all four seasons with close proximity to beaches and mountains. Home to a dozens of churches and activities such as Discovery Place or Carowinds, Charlotte is a family-friendly city. As a growing metropolitan, Charlotte does come with some of the flaws of a major city. You can expect traffic, but the average commute is only 26 minutes (just imagine what New Yorkers deal with!). Crime is low, at an expected 3,700 crimes per 100,000 residents and our sub-humid climate give us around 218 sunny days per year.
After taking a closer look at the 5 segments contributing to Charlotte’s rapid growth and development, it’s safe to say the city is slated for a fantastic 2016. As more corporations eye Charlotte as a home-base and our small business community continues to strengthen, an entrepreneurial vibe is being established in the Queen City. Charlotte is building a reputation for innovation, learning, and advancement, especially in our main fields of technology, medicine, energy, and banking. Our growing economy is giving way to an eclectic urban life, full of restaurants and activities varying from white water rafting to live music with a little something for all ages. The city’s gorgeous weather and thriving job market is attracting people from all parts of the country looking to build a new life in a forward city that still has southern charm. All of these aspects combined have created a fun, growing, professional city with infinite potential for the future. As 2015 comes to an end, Charlotte has many accomplishments and milestones to be proud of while all signs point to an amazing 2016 for the Queen City.