people in large conference

17 Things You Should Know About Carolinas’ Economy

The 8th Annual Interface Carolinas Conference was held on June 1, 2017 in Charlotte and was, as usual, very informative. The Interface Carolinas Conference is a one-day affair that discusses the state of the Carolinas’ commercial markets. It focuses on retail, office, multi-family, and industrial sectors as well as capital markets.

I thought it might be helpful to share a few points that really stuck out to me during the conference. Continue reading for my greatest takeaways.

  1. Unemployment is down across the country. However caution should be exercised as a person is considered “employed” if they have worked only 1 paid hour in a given week.
  2. Migration across the country is at its lowest rate since World War II. Despite this, the southeast has had good population growth.
  3. GDP is expected to grow 1% in 2017 and 2.7% growth is projected for 2018.
  4. The inflation rate has been temporarily depressed due to a flood of merchandise requiring liquidation for retail store closings – this is temporary.
  5. Tax reforms are projected as the GOP needs something for mid-term elections.
  6. Two interest rate hikes are expected for 2017.
  7. Manufacturing has gained momentum.
  8. The Carolinas are one of the fastest growing areas in the country; however the growth is concentrated in the MSAs (Metropolitan Statistical Areas) and along the coast.
  9. Nationwide, 15 urban areas have accounted for almost all multi-family construction since the recession ended.
  10. Home ownership is projected to increase for the next 10 years as the millennial cohort average age reaches 37 years. This is the age where home ownership really takes off.
  11. From 2010 to 2016, 150,000 people have moved to Charlotte.
  12. Retirees are moving to the Carolinas in increasing numbers. 10 more years of strong growth for retirees is projected for the Carolinas. The Wilmington MSA has had the strongest growth.
  13. 105,000 jobs are forecast to be added to the Carolinas in 2017.
  14. The South Carolina single-family home market has recovered well and is not at pre-recession levels.
  15. The North Carolina single-family home market is more anemic as it is only 2/3 of pre-recession levels.
  16. HB2 did not have much of an immediate impact on job growth. The impact probably won’t be seen in statistical numbers until 2018 – 2019 due to the lethargy of corporate relocations.
  17. Mixed-use retail is doing really well. However, growing online retail sales are projected to deeply impact retail centers with an increasing pace of center closures expected.

In general, we are very fortunate to live in the Carolinas. The economy is humming along and indications are the immediate future will be bright.

common hotel space with a man working

Does Your Building Have a “We” Space?

When the general public became familiar with the internet in the early 1990’s, change seemed inevitable. What no one knew was how granular and ubiquitous those changes would become.

A prime example of this is social media. Through Facebook and Twitter (and countless other sites), we can tell the world as much or as little about ourselves as we want, while becoming entrenched in other people’s lives at the same time. We’ve become incredibly nosey, living a private life in a public (virtual) space, and expecting the same from others.

What is a “We” Space?

While living a private life in the public space started virtually, the phenomenon is now manifesting itself in the real world. It’s called the We Space trend.

A hotel is the perfect example of a We Space in action. Gone are the days when the hotel lobby’s main function was to check guests in and out. It’s been remade into a large, open expanse with Wi-Fi, electrical plugs, and food and drink. The tastefully decorated lobby invites the business traveler to pull out his laptop, order dinner, and work. It invites the soccer parents to meet and socialize between tournament games while their soccer stars huddle with their teammates and play on their phones. It’s where teenagers go to escape the watchful eye of their guardians and to be alone in a public place.

The We space trend isn’t limited to the hotel lobby, it’s also evident in the exercise room. No longer an afterthought tossed in the basement or tucked in the back corner next to linen storage, exercise rooms have become larger, brighter, and command a prominent location. They offer multiple TV’s with the ability to stream your favorite workout, allowing you to do your own thing among everyone else—who are also doing their own thing.

Another hotel We Space is the rooftop. While people like to socialize in bars, they LOVE to socialize in high places with a view. Operators have discovered that the revenue generated by rooftop bars and restaurants far outweighs the additional construction costs of those spaces.

Your Business Needs a “We” Space

Savvy owners and operators are starting to jump on the We Space trend and incorporate it into their hotels to increase guest satisfaction and generate more revenue. If you own a hotel, now is the time to add a gathering space or risk losing out on business. If the social media trend is any indication, We Spaces are about to become more popular than ever.