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The original item was published from 12/7/2015 9:02:00 AM to 1/1/2017 12:05:02 AM.

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Economic Development

Posted on: December 6, 2015

[ARCHIVED] Affordable Triad

Your Money

Owen Covington, Reporter- Triad Business Journal

Bob Leak’s recruiting pitch to companies considering Forsyth County goes beyond offering top real estate and touting work force opportunities.

More than many metros around the country, the Triad is able to tout more bang for the buck when it comes to purchasing power, thanks to solid wages and a low cost of living, according to data gathered by the Triad Business Journal and its sister newspapers within American City Business Journals.

“If you’re not from this market, and you’re moving here, it becomes a very positive thing as we talk to people,” said Leak, president of Winston-Salem Business Inc. “All of that comes into play, particularly when we’re talking about a headquarters move or a large executive team is considering moving here.”

Consider this: Among 106 markets nationwide, Winston-Salem ranks 67th for average salary across all industries, and Greensboro ranks 83rd.

But when you factor in what the purchasing power of that salary is, Winston-
Salem jumps to 44th place and Greensboro to 60th — among the largest jumps within the group of more than 100 markets.

That equates to an unseen boost in pay for many workers in the Triad, using data from the federal Bureau of Economic Analysis.

For instance, an average salary of $41,860 translates into purchasing power of $46,310 in Greensboro. In Winston-Salem, that average salary of $43,520 is really $47,880 when purchasing power is accounted for.

“Sometimes a company is trying to convince an executive team to make the move (into the Triad),” Leak said. “You see a lightbulb go off a lot of times when they realize they can buy a bigger house when they are paid the same or less.”

Not surprisingly given high local cost of living, many markets in the Northeast and West Coast see deflated salaries once purchasing power comes into play.

In Honolulu, an average salary of $47,850 loses its luster when cost of living factors deflate it to just $38,930. The market has the greatest disparity between the two numbers of the 106 considered.

Money in the market
When the economy turns sour and unemployment rises, it’s a company-driven market when it comes to attracting high-level employees, says Chad Oakley, president and chief operating officer for executive recruitment firm Charles Aris.

But today, with unemployment low and business rebounding, prospective recruits fill out their wish list, and it often goes beyond just a higher salary or better title. They drill down into real estate costs and property tax levels, prices at local grocery stores and quality-of-life amenities.
“In a market like the one we’re in right now, with candidates having multiple options to chose from, they become much more demanding about what their expectations are,” Oakley said. “But when the market is bad, and it’s a company-driven market, they are willing to tighten the belt.”
Looking at a market basket of goods compared across all 40 markets served by American City Business Journals, the Triad fares better than most, with prices in real estate, at the grocery store or for professional services generally lower.

For instance, what does a 3,000-square-foot home with three-car garage that’s less than five years old and sits on a 0.75-acre lot run?

You can sign the deed on that house for about $443,000 in the Triad, but that will run you $1.7 million in Atlanta, Ga. Across the 40 ACBJ markets, the average was $1.6 million.
A couple’s night out at the movies runs just $19 for tickets, compared to an average of $23, and that round of golf is cheaper, too — $60 in the Triad, compared to $90 on average.
Hourly rates for attorneys and accountants also run lower than average in the Triad, as does prime downtown office space.

“As an individual who spends a lot of time placing others all over the U.S., I can tell you from a cost-of-living perspective, the Triad is one of the most attractive places to live,” Oakley said. “I would wager that dollar-for-dollar, you would do much better in the Triad than you would in a major city.”

Triad Business Journal
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