Editor’s Note: The WRAL TechWire “Future of Work” series, supported by commercial real estate firm JLL and other partners, concluded last week.  But the topics and trends discussed throughout the series will continue in the future, setting up the Triangle for a future of work that is still being formed by the relationship employees are seeking with their employers and the region’s economic growth. 


RALEIGH – As North Carolina has seen the fourth-highest net change in its population since April 2020, in part due to in-migration of people from other states, companies are selecting the state for relocation and expansion projects at a record pace, according to the Economic Development Partnership of North Carolina.

In fact, the state is among the most sought after growth markets in the United States, said Kimarie Ankenbrand, managing director and Raleigh site lead for commercial real estate firm JLL in an interview last week with WRAL TechWire.

“We are having an offensive mindset as we look at economic growth in the region,” said Ankenbrand.  “The strong fundamentals in the Triangle insulates our market pretty well from big swings in economic conditions.”

Because the state, and the Triangle region, is seen now by investors as a less risky place to invest in large-scale real estate projects than so-called gateway markets, and there’s an emerging pattern of growth and expansion, that’s leading to changes in the commercial real estate markets.

These trends are what we’ve covered in the recent WRAL TechWire special reporting series, Future of Work, a project supported by JLL and other partners.  And though that project concluded last week, WRAL TechWire will continue to cover the trends in our regional economy, our state, and our real estate and labor markets.

Special report: Triangle must plan for even more growth as businesses follow ‘flight to quality’

Talent preeminence

But companies aren’t just selecting sites based on location or proximity or economic incentive packages, though each of those may indeed be strong considerations.

They’re selecting areas that are connected to the state’s current and future workforce.  That’s because talent is the most critical factor for many sectors that thrive in the state.

In the future of work, said Ankenbrand, “we are going to keep seeing our market diversify itself with all the different industries interested and growing into our region.”

Special report profile: Kimarie Ankenbrand, managing director and broker lead at JLL

That includes an emerging sector for the state: automotive, as Toyota and VinFast are investing billions of dollars into the state.  Sources tell WRAL TechWire that the decisions from each automaker may attract further investment from suppliers who seek to locate facilities in proximity to the automotive plant and electric battery plant.

Meanwhile, the state continues to see a strengthening of its life science sector, in biopharmaceutical manufacturing and in gene therapy.

Plus, now that Apple and Google have selected the region for engineering hubs, and the region’s and state’s entrepreneurial economies continue to mature, there may continue to be demand for highly-amenitized, Class A spaces, such as in downtown areas or potentially in the forthcoming Hub RTP development.

“While the office market recovers, we continue to see migration from other markets and flex market reacts to life science conversions,” said Ankenbrand.  “Demand will continue to pick up and if construction costs are putting pressure on new deliveries, we could be in position next year and 2024 of limited supply in certain areas of the Triangle.”

Special report: What workers want, now and in the future

What employers want is what employees want

When companies choose a location, they’re investing in their spaces to both attract new workers and retain current employees, adding on-site amenities or locations and programs that provide easy access to what workers want.

Beyond, where possible, companies are making a shift toward more flexible work arrangements, as well, looking to pull workers into the office and making it easier to work from home or in other remote locations.

“Employers are still working on best communicating the why or the intrinsic value of having their teams collaborating in person,” said Ankenbrand.  Wherever companies land, she said, “it has to be a two way street in order for a business to thrive long-term.”

In other words: the companies and employees that quickly establish the right balance will be best prepared for the future of work to deliver business success.


This editorial package was produced with funding support from JLL and other partners.  WRAL TechWire retains full editorial control of all content.

The series launched here, and the second report discussed high demand.  Next, the series explored the relationship between work spaces, work places, and the current labor market.  The following weeks, we’ve investigated specific sectors of the real estate market including land development, commercial multifamily properties, industrial space, and life science and biopharmaceutical space

More from the series

Special report: The future of the Triangle’s economy hinges on its spaces

Special report: Space in high demand, even as future of work remains uncertain

Special report: The future of work is happening now

Future of Work special report: Across the Triangle, an ‘insatiable demand’ for land

Special report: The race for industrial space is accelerating across the Triangle

‘No parallel’ for Future of Work in Triangle’s life science sector, economy

Special report: In Triangle, demand for life science space outpacing supply

Special report: Triangle must plan for even more growth as businesses follow ‘flight to quality’