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Raleigh-Durham-Chapel Hill Ranks NO. 5 in Top Tech Cities Report

By Rich Harris, Managing Principal, Raleigh-Durham

Raleigh, North Carolina

Raleigh-Durham-Chapel Hill’s robust tech industry was recently recognized in Cushman & Wakefield’s inaugural “Tech Cities 1.0” national report, which was presented last week. The report, which ranked the region as the #5 top tech market, weighed three key components of “tech stew:” talent, capital, and growth opportunities. The rankings were topped by: 1. San Jose, CA (Silicon Valley); 2. San Francisco, CA; 3. Washington, D.C.; 4. Boston/Cambridge, MA and then Raleigh-Durham-Chapel Hill.

The high performing local tech economy is catalyzed by the presence of global technology and R&D firms in Research Triangle Park along with the areas nationally ranked research universities and their associated healthcare systems. The high prevalence of PhDs, world-class researchers, talented engineers, techies, and entrepreneurs make the conditions ripe for start-ups of all kinds.

It’s not uncommon to see a doctor leave a career at a hospital to start a company based on decades of research, or a technology executive at one of the major R&D companies in the Park leaving a position to pursue a specialized line of technology that’s too specific for a larger company to pursue; and they often separate amicably and with the backing of their previous employers. Once they start their companies, the feeder of local graduates – coupled with the talent migrating to the Triangle – serve as a potent workforce.

Raleigh-Durham-Chapel Hill ranks 4th when examining the share of workforce with a bachelor’s degree or higher.


Other factors contributing to tech growth are more basic, such as the Triangle’s quality of life, which boasts direct access to the beach to the east and the Blue Ridge Mountains to the west. The Triangle is also very competitive from a cost-of-living standpoint, especially when compared to first-tier city tech hotbeds that are often triple the price to do business.

The chart below clearly demonstrates the significant cost advantages in the Triangle compared with other cities in the top five.

U.S. Precis Metro Data and CW Research

Additional areas in the report where the Triangle showed strength were our workforce’s share of tech employment, where we ranked 3rd, and proximity to institutions of higher learning.

A glance at headlines from just the past three weeks is a telling indicator of the burgeoning growth within the regions tech sector:

  • “Durham Tech Company Scores Partnership with Microsoft” – Triangle Business Journal
  •  “Why a loss at Google’s Demo Day is still a win for Durham’s PRSONAS” – Triangle Business Journal
  •  “RTP angel group to raise a second entrepreneurship fund” – Triangle Business Journal
  • Listed in “Top 10 U.S. Biopharma Clusters” – Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology News
  •  “MetLife Expanding Global Tech Campus in NC” – CoStar
  • New study  names ‘Raleigh-Durham’ among “Top 10 for emerging tech startups” – Progressive Policy Institute
  • “One of Raleigh’s fastest-growing software firms buys two companies” – Triangle Business Journal
  • “Globant buys Raleigh’s PointSource in deal worth up to $28 million” – Triangle Business Journal

Rich Harris is a 21 year veteran of the commercial real estate industry and currently serves as the Managing Principal of the Raleigh-Durham office of Cushman & Wakefield. Rich has completed nearly 1,200 commercial transactions in his career and is widely regarded as one of the premier tenant representation brokers in the Triangle. Rich specializes in servicing high-growth and venture backed technology companies and has a strong reputation for integrity and aggressive advocacy with companies of all sizes.

© 2019 Cushman & Wakefield, Inc.