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Chamber Hosts 12th Annual State of the Community Report

Chamber Hosts 12th Annual State of the Community Report

Member News CEO Statement Event Partnership for a Sustainable Community Connect Advocate

 Presentation featured up-to-date community data, commencement of the 35th Leadership Class, and launch of Big Bold Ideas

Chapel Hill, NC: The Chamber For a Greater Chapel Hill-Carrboro (The Chamber) delivered the 12th annual State of the Community Report, which tracks the well-being of Greater Chapel Hill-Carrboro across social, economic, and environmental indicators.

“The state of our community is strong: we are one of the healthiest counties in the state with one of the most well-educated workforces in the nation. Our cost of living reflects great value and our tourism numbers show that we are a place people want to be,” said Aaron Nelson, President and CEO, The Chamber For a Greater Chapel Hill-Carrboro.

Ten Key Findings

  1. (Cost of Living) Chapel Hill is one of the best values in the state – leading in adjusted gross income and lagging in cost of living (vs. Asheville, Charlotte, Wilmington, and Winston-Salem).
  2. (Income) Household income in Orange County is growing faster than surrounding counties and outpacing inflation. Also, Orange County leads the state in per capita income with $38,348 (Wake #2, Chatham #3).
  3. (Workforce) Chapel Hill is the #1 most educated municipality in the state and among the highest in the nation for percentage of residents 25+ with a bachelor’s degree or higher.
  4. (Education) Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools students' average SAT score is more than 150 points higher than the NC average, and dropout rate is below 1%. Hispanic students in both Chapel Hill and Orange County outperform neighboring counties in 4-year graduation rates (85% and 83% respectively).
  5. (Housing) The number of homes sold in Orange County exceeded pre-recession sales (1,869) and price per square foot ($158) outpaced Chatham ($157), Durham ($134), Wake ($139). Chapel Hill-Carrboro City School District leads this pack at $175/sf.
  6. (Health) Orange County residents live the longest in the state and outperform the state average in several indicators of health, including lower adult obesity (25%), lower adult smoking (14%), and greater access to exercise opportunities (84%).
  7. (Women-owned Businesses) Female business ownership rate in Orange County (36.3%) is higher than the national average (35.8%).
  8. (Young Workers) More young workers (under 30) are living and working in Orange County (4,032) – highest number since 2008.
  9. (Tourism) Orange County visitors spent $208 million (all time high) and the industry employs 1,940 people with a payroll of $42 million (up 4.6% from 2017).
  10. (Community Health) Orange County percentage of people and children living in poverty is down, food insecurity is down, crime is down, and the percentage of people spending more than 30% of their income on rent in Orange County is down.

Big Bold Ideas

During the event, Chamber Board Member and Founder of Wintergreen Hospitality, Jay Patel, announced the Big Bold Ideas Steering Committee, which features 40 influential and diverse community leaders including Mayors and business owners, community activists and artists, our civic and social leaders.

On behalf of the Steering Committee, Patel issued the community-wide call for big, bold ideas that will make the community a better place to live, work, and start or grow a business. Examples include, no one in the community goes to bed hungry, all children are reading on grade level by grade three, and we build and fill 500,000 square feet of office space by 2026.

Ideas can be submitted online at or via text at 919-525-1395 by Saturday, October 12, 2019. More information on the community-wide civic initiative, including the goal, more information on the Steering Committee, and the timeline for collecting, selecting, and implementing the ideas is available at

Leadership Chapel Hill-Carrboro 

The Leadership Chapel Hill-Carrboro Class of 2019 was honored during the State of the Community for their completion of the five-month intensive program. This annual program, now in its 25th year, is designed to inform, develop, and engage committed and emerging local leaders.
Class co-presidents, Dave Gillam and Elinor Landess delivered commencement remarks on behalf of the class, acknowledged Leadership alums in attendance, and encouraged nominations for Leadership 2020. View pictures from the private graduation ceremony in August 2019 at the Carolina Inn. 

About the Event

The Chamber’s 12th annual State of the Community Report, presented by Triangle Community Foundation, was held at the UNC Friday Center for Continuing Education in Chapel Hill with nearly 400 local leaders in attendance. Featured speakers included Aaron Nelson, President and CEO of The Chamber; Dr. Rebecca Tippett, Ph.D., Founding Director of Carolina Demography, Carolina Population Center at UNC-Chapel Hill; and Ellen Shannon, Vice President, Shannon Media and Vice Chair of The Chamber’s Board of Directors.  Learn more about the event and access the 2019 State of the Community Report Presentation and Comprehensive Data Book at  


Event Sponsors:

“Greater Chapel Hill-Carrboro has realized some remarkable improvements in community well-being over the last decade. Now it’s time for some big ideas and bold action to take our place on the global stage in the next decade,” said Nelson.

About The Chamber For a Greater Chapel Hill-Carrboro: The Chamber is a membership organization that serves and advances the business interests of Greater Chapel Hill, including the Towns of Chapel Hill and Carrboro as well as southern Orange, northern Chatham, and southwest Durham counties. The Chamber's network is growing with nearly 1,000-member enterprises that employ more than 95,000 workers throughout the region. Together with its network, The Chamber is committed to building a sustainable community where business thrives. Members count on The Chamber to connect them with key people, information, and resources; advocate for local business interests; promote their business, our community, and our overall quality of life; and help them save money. Learn more at
Contact: Katie Loovis, Vice President for External Affairs, 919-696-0781 (cell),


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