May 26, 2023 - Business

The future of the Triangle's growth, according to PNC's Jim Hansen

Photo illustration of Jim Hansen with a photo of the PNC Bank building in downtown Raleigh.

Photo illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios. Photo: PNC Bank

The Triangle's economy remains one of the strongest in the nation, attracting thousands of newcomers every year. But concerns over whether that growth will be equality distributed are real, according to one of the region's most influential bankers.

Driving the news: In a conversation with Axios, Jim Hansen, the regional president for PNC Bank's operations in Raleigh, said that the Triangle continues to benefit from a healthy mixture of steady industries, like health care and universities, alongside a strong science and technology scene.

  • "Even in a pandemic we thrived in terms of population growth," he said from the 20th floor of the PNC building in downtown Raleigh.

Yes, but: There is a concern that while transplants are taking high-paying jobs, Triangle-born residents are not prepared for the same opportunities.

What he's saying: "The people moving here have a higher educational attainment than the average North Carolinian," Hansen said. "We need to do better. We really should be producing the talent here at the same pace."

  • At the same time, he said, "unless we're going to [grow] completely up" transportation issues stand to be one of the biggest issues for the region going forward.

What we're watching: The region's growing pains could be alleviated by the rise in hybrid work, Hansen said, since there's less pressure to be close to the office.

  • "You can live in Rocky Mount or Wilson and if you need to be at a PNC or IBM for two days a week that's fine because you're working out your house on broadband and you can have neighborhood space or whatever you're looking for at a more affordable price."

What's next: Hansen, a board member of the economic development organization the Research Triangle Regional Partnership, said he predicts the region's next big growth industry will be agriculture technology.

  • "The ag-tech space is really an area that we [at RTRP] are really talking about and putting more investment into," he said.

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