'We do the best we can': Small business owners react to NC's 'top spot' ranking

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Thursday, July 14, 2022
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Raleigh business owners react to North Carolina top business ranking across the country.

RALEIGH, N.C. (WTVD) -- Mario Longo has called Vic's Ristorante & Pizzeria 'home' for 28 years.

"We used to be in Brooklyn, New York. And when I came down here, I fell in love right away with North Carolina," Longo said. "And I never go back!"

Born and raised in Italy, Longo operates the City Market location and his son runs Raleigh's Blue Ridge location.

"We do the best we can. We come and see you or you come and see us," he said.

North Carolina received the #1 top spot for business in the entire country from CNBC who cited the state's economy, access to capital, and technology.

In an interview Wednesday morning, Governor Roy Cooper said big name companies like Apple and Google recognize the state is a good place for business.

But, what about the small guys?

"Every time a big guy's coming in...more people are coming to North Carolina," added Longo. "So for a kind of business like (Vic's), it's beneficial for us. We want those big guys to come in. We do!"

The past couple of years have been challenging for Longo and company as he was not exempt from battling the pandemic and currently rising inflation rates.

"Anything we buy is double what we used to pay for," Longo said.

Several blocks away, the owners at Black Friday Market, which opened at the height of the pandemic, say business is great.

"You get people that come in....because we specifically saw it on TikTok," store co-owner Janeyce Flageler said. "We're for the people and they come here and support us. And they know it's a lot of local businesses in here."

Black Friday Market is a home for many small business owners, both inside and outside North Carolina. The store pays out business owners after their products sell on their shelves. The store features clothing, jewelry, skincare and haircare products, and other retail products.

Being heavy on social media is also a calling card and a testament to the power of technology, which helps the state rank high.

"(People) post us," said Flageler. "They tag us. And sometimes we don't even know they're doing it. So that always is a help bringing people in."

North Carolina has ranked in the top five on CNBC's list a total of three times since 2017.