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Charlotte No. 1, Raleigh-Cary No. 7 in new report ranking ‘most attractive’ life science markets

RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK – The Charlotte region has been named the most attractive market for life sciences professionals by Jones Lang LaSalle IP, Inc. (JLL) in its 2021 Life Sciences Emerging Markets Index. The Raleigh-Cary area followed closely behind, placing seventh in the country.

Chicago-based JLL is a global professional services firm, specializing in real estate. In its report, the company examined how the COVID-19 pandemic impacted global markets, noting an increased financial interest in the life sciences.

In compiling the report, JLL examined 110 United States markets, considering venture capital funding, NIH funding, lab developers, clinical research and other factors. Ultimately, it identified three necessary categories for success: momentum, talent and potential.

Jones Lange Lasalle life science market chart

Momentum identifies which job markets are growing and how salaries compare, broken down into employment acceleration and wage positioning. Employment acceleration indicates growth and maturation, measured between 2010 and 2020.  The Charlotte region came in ninth place nationally, meaning hiring practices are expanding. In measuring wage positioning, or the area’s wage proximity to the industry average, the Durham-Chapel Hill area came in fourth place while the Raleigh-Cary area came in sixth.

The Triangle is “boosted by lower cost of living,” says JLL, while other established life sciences markets remain high.

JLL measured potential by combining momentum and talent, while also weighing an area’s ability to attract young professionals.

The millennial generation is the future of the life sciences. Building a successful business ecosystem relies on appealing to young employees who will put down roots and spend their careers there.

“It’s nice to see the validation from the JLL report confirming what we have been seeing in our growing life sciences sector,” said Doug Edgeton, president and CEO of the North Carolina Biotechnology Center.

“This is happening across North Carolina, particularly in the RTP market. So it’s important to see this recognition that Charlotte is a hotbed for life sciences expansion as two new medical schools emerge in that market,” he added. “Our coveted ability to work together with all the partners who make economic development effective, while remaining focused on meeting the needs of companies electing to put down roots or expand their operations, has been a winning hand for our state. This welcoming and collaborative environment filled with next-generation talent, combined with super-competitive corporate and personal tax rates, are enough to win over many projects. Adding the excellent quality of life with the natural beauty of this part of the country is icing on the cake.”

Charlotte’s first-place status as an attractive market is credited to its already high volume of educated millennial professionals, who in turn, attract more talent.

“These markets tend to occupy a sweet spot with respect to cost of living between established coastal/gateway markets,” which refers to the major, international markets, “and true secondary markets,” says JLL. This status aids both migration and hiring practices for a company.

In calculating potential, JLL identified state corporate tax rates and higher-education R&D expenditures, which aided the Charlotte and Triangle rankings.

North Carolina’s corporate tax rate is the third-lowest in the country at 2.5%, behind only Texas and Washington, which don’t levy corporate taxes. In terms of higher-education R&D spending, North Carolina comes in fifth, at $2.43 billion, measured during the 2019 fiscal year.

JLL’s report was subtitled “Poised for a paradigm shift,” to reflect the various emerging markets making headway toward historically top-tier markets. These metropolitan areas, including Charlotte and the Triangle, provide companies with vibrant life sciences ecosystems, demographic advantages and affordable, high-quality living. Investors and life sciences companies are recognizing this trend and seriously considering these areas in their financial plans.

“Though Boston, San Francisco and San Diego will always occupy a vaulted place within the life sciences pantheon,” JLL says, “the incredible dynamism of the industry is jump-starting new markets that are of growing interest to life sciences investors and companies alike.”

JLL cited similar trends in its 2019 report, which identified infrastructure and affordability challenges in Boston and San Francisco. At the same time, it applauded the Raleigh-Durham area for its higher-education system, talent pipeline and innovative ecosystem, all of which have grown stronger since 2019.

“Prompt entry into these markets offers a robust upside as they evolve toward drawing significant public and private funding,” JLL says in its most recent report. “Forward-thinking organizations have the opportunity to take action on this data early, elevating organizational momentum, gaining access to top talent and activating their real estate potential.

“The Charlotte region continues to be an attractive place for both individuals and businesses,” said Corie Curtis, executive director of the NCBiotech Charlotte Office. “The JLL report underscores why this region is so enticing. The growth of our life sciences and healthcare sectors, alongside several others, is indicative of a successful collaborative approach in supporting the startup community, workforce development, and company recruitment. There is a palpable excitement in the region as we welcome a new medical school and the emergence of endless possibilities as a result.”

(C) N.C. Biotech Center

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