Raleigh economy shows 'substantial growth' in new report

RALEIGH (WTVD) -- Union Special is one of the new kids on the block on Downtown Raleigh's Fayetteville Street. It's been three weeks since staff first started serving sandwiches and dishing up freshly baked croissants to customers.

Owner Andrew Ullom got a grant to open doors during the pandemic and the Downtown Raleigh Alliance says he's a part of the city's bounce back from COVID-19.

"We're excited about the continued uptick in business," said Ullom. "We're experiencing busier Mondays and Tuesdays every week."

The DRA just released its Q3 report and the organization says it's showing substantial economic growth.

Forty-eight new storefronts have opened or expanded business since the beginning of the year.

"That is a huge number," said DRA Director of Economic Development and Planning Will Gaskins. "(It's a) 71 percent increase from last year, so that's extremely exciting to see that level of activity, that level of interest in the market."

The report also shows a 17 percent increase in pedestrian foot traffic since last quarter, hotel occupancy shot up 28 percent, and food and beverage sales soared143 percent since this time last year.

"It's really encouraging to see numbers recovering to the point. We're very close in a number of different segments to where we were pre-pandemic," said Gaskins.

City Plaza, where Union Special is located, has been hit hard.

Ullom feels his investment in this section of the Raleigh will pay off.

"I think that the landscape in Downtown and the landscape in City Plaza will be changed and it will be different, but I think that it will come back and it will boom again for sure," he said.
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