RALEIGH, N.C. (WTVD) -- Raleigh Chamber of Commerce held its 2023 State of the City, County and Schools luncheon at the Raleigh Convention Center on Tuesday.
Raleigh Mayor Mary-Ann Baldwin was one of the main speakers at the event.
Raleigh's Challenges and Wins
She talked about some major economic wins for the city this year, citing events such as the NHL Stadium Series game, which brought in more than $18 million.
However, she pointed out the city also has some significant challenges on the horizon.
Affordable housing remains an ongoing problem. The city is struggling to meet the strong demand and rising costs associated with building the structures.
Right now, the City of Raleigh has more than 2,000 affordable housing units in the pipeline; they're expected to be available by 2026.
Many residents remain on waitlists for years hoping to snag housing like that. Baldwin wants to eliminate that wait.
One thing Baldwin said she's extremely excited about is the start of construction for a new Bus Rapid Transit line. Wake voters approved a $2.3B mass transit investment plan to build approximately 20 miles of transit lanes along four corridors in Wake County back in 2016.
"The first Bus Rapid Transit line will be coming under construction in the fall -- it's the perfect area. I'm excited to get the community engaged on how we move something like that forward. It's a big idea, it's a visionary idea," Baldwin said.
WAKE County Schools
The Wake County Public School System talked about success and challenges.
The district admitted that staffing shortages continue to be a significant problem exacerbated by Wake County's growing population.
School Board Vice Chair Christ Heagarty said the district is restoring extra pay increases for employees who have master's or other advanced degrees. The hope is this incentive will help the district retain its most qualified educators.
Some great news for the district is that its four-year graduate rate now stands around 90 percent. It was just 80 percent in 2012.
"We also have the greatest number of nationally board-certified teachers in America in Wake County and that's the gold standard in teaching. We want to provide our teachers with good benefits, wellness benefits -- things beyond just the paycheck are going to support them and let them do their job in a healthy and happy environment," Heagarty said.
Heagarty also announced that WCPSS would announce its new superintendent on July 18.
Wake County Wins and Challenges
Meanwhile, CNBC ranked North Carolina as the top state in the country for business. The Tar Heel state ranked high in economy, workforce, technology and innovation, access to capital and education.
However, our state did fall behind in the "Life, Health and Inclusion" section.
"What the state has tried to do and what Wake County has done is really created a place that's welcoming to businesses, welcoming to people of all backgrounds. And I think that's the most important thing, because the talent in this area is extremely rich. So we want to make sure we're not doing anything to impact the talent that comes to this area," Wake County manager David Ellis said.
Ellis said Wake County leaders plan to monitor recently passed state laws, such as the abortion ban, to see how they impact the local economy.