February 23, 2024


Drive along 240 miles of the Atlantic coast from Charleston, South Carolina, through the grassy swamps of southern Georgia to northern Florida, and you’ll witness one of the most profound economic shifts in America today.

Welcome to New New South.

Electric car factories and battery factories are replacing pine forests in this area of ​​prewar buildings and shrimp. More broadly, the entire South from here, north to Kentucky and west to Texas, is where businesses relocate, jobs grow and homes are bought. This ascension does not occur equally everywhere or for everyone. But the impact on the entire country is huge.

Numbers tell the story. Six fast-growing southern states — Florida, Texas, Georgia, the Carolinas and Tennessee — contribute more to the gross national product than the state with the Washington-New York-Boston corridor for the first time, government data show. northeast. Time travel back to the 1990s. This shift has occurred during a pandemic, and there is no sign of any recovery.

According to an analysis of recently released IRS data, in 2020 and 2021 alone, massive immigration will bring about $100 billion in new revenue to the Southeast, while losing about $60 billion to the Northeast.

The Southeast has accounted for more than two-thirds of all job growth in the U.S. since the start of 2020, nearly double what it was before the pandemic. It is home to 10 of the 15 fastest growing large cities in the United States.

Businesses are also flocking there, with a record number of businesses moving south in the wake of the pandemic, according to Census Bureau data.

Dun & Bradstreet is one of them.

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Founded 182 years ago by abolitionist Lewis Tappan, the company until recently was headquartered in Short Hills, New Jersey, for a financial information company with close ties to Wall Street. , its geographical location has great advantages.

But in 2021, the company relocated to Jacksonville, Florida, on the southern edge of the 240-mile stretch of coast.

Jacksonville lacks the money and star power of Gable Estates, Fisher Island and other elite South Florida enclaves. Parts of the city center are empty and lifeless. Surrounding Duval County has the highest crime rate in the state. Its steel truss bridges and large harbor give Jacksonville an industrial feel not found in Florida’s other, more charming cities.

Jacksonville does have a strong appeal to companies and the people who want to work for them. In Dun & Bradstreet’s case, that included $100 million worth of cash and tax incentives.

Chief Financial Officer Bryan Hipsher said the company would be happy to stay in the New York area. But Florida State’s offer was too good to turn down.

“You feel welcome, don’t you?” Hipschel said in an interview at his new palm-fringed headquarters just minutes from the beach. “Obviously, you feel welcome.”

Employees here earn an average annual salary of $77,000, 25 percent above the national rate and well above most local salaries. Still, pay for many positions is about 15% below the average at the former New Jersey headquarters.

Jacksonville is growing so fast its population surpassed that of San Jose last year. Excellent schools, including the University of Florida, help provide a high-quality employee base, Shipsher said. Today, the company is still busy hiring — less than halfway to its goal of 500 employees.

Not far away, the Jacksonville branch of the Mayo Clinic, a world-renowned medical center in Rochester, Minnesota, has grown with the city. A new oncology building is going up. Last year, the company added 2,400 employees, bringing its total to 9,000.

The company’s move underscores the strength of the migration of 2.2 million people to Florida and the Southeast — about the size of Houston — over the past two years.

The term “New South” was coined during the economic transition of former slave-owner regions after the Civil War. “The South has been reinventing itself,” said Gavin Wright, an economic historian who studies Southern economies. “Each generation seems to have its own ‘new south.'”

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In recent decades, a warmer climate, lower taxes, less regulation and cheaper housing have attracted businesses and retirees. But the recovery of the pandemic-era Sunbelt economy is broader.

“You can throw a dart anywhere on the map of the South and hit somewhere that’s booming,” says Mark Vitner, a retired longtime economist at Wells Fargo, now of Charlotte, North Carolina. The city’s own economic consulting firm, Piedmont Crescent Capital (Piedmont Crescent Capital).

Asset manager AllianceBernstein, which moved into Nashville a few years ago, has become the top U.S. real estate “supernova,” according to surveys by PricewaterhouseCoopers and the Urban Land Institute. Houston, Atlanta and Charlotte (the longtime home of Bank of America) all made Penske Truck Rental’s top 10 national relocation destinations, all ahead of Austin.

And no one beats Fort Worth, Texas, the fastest-growing big city in America near Dallas, according to the latest Census Bureau data.

“We now have more employees in Texas than in New York,” JPMorgan Chief Executive Jamie Dimon told Bloomberg Television earlier this year on a tour of the South. “It shouldn’t be like this. “

Back on the South Atlantic coast, signs of explosive growth are everywhere along the Interstate 26 corridor to Charleston, South Carolina. This city of 150,000 inhabitants has a rich history of 350 years. On this vital link to the port, electric car factories and master-planned communities are replacing decades-old forests managed by timber companies.

On a Friday night in March, dozens of empty nesters drank chardonnay and bourbon at the Newcomers Club party in the Charleston suburb of Mount Pleasant. Almost everyone seemed to be from New Jersey.

Eager to escape the Covid-19 lockdown and store closures up north, Beth Woods, 47, and her husband began commuting from New Jersey every two weeks to Mount of Olives in the state. Soon after, they decided to move permanently.

“You can have your hair done, your nails done, you can basically live your life. And property taxes are lower here,” Woods said.

A few feet away, Rosemary Taibi, 59, agreed. After moving from Randolph, New Jersey, she and her husband cut property taxes from $16,000 to $2,000: “That’s a big difference.”

Northeasterners are moving here, but even more surprisingly, Californians are moving here too. Employment in the Charleston metro area grew 5.9 percent last year, twice the U.S. average. Following the opening of the Volvo factory, a Nevada company, Redwood Materials, is building a $3.5 billion electric-vehicle parts factory 40 minutes northwest of Charleston. five years ago.

Whether growing conservative leanings on issues like reproductive rights will dampen the influx of people willing to move to some southern states remains to be seen. There is no evidence that it slows migration flows.

For now, the increase in personnel would bring more congressional seats and more political power on the national stage to the South. In total, the 12 Southeast states, including Texas, have gained 33 congressional seats over the past 50 years. Tate lost roughly the same number as the Northeast and Midwest over the same period.

Southerners now chair 11 of the 21 most important committees in the U.S. House of Representatives, according to a Bloomberg Government analysis.

In the 2022 midterm elections, Republican governors handily defeated their nationally known Democratic opponents in Florida, Georgia and Texas. It was a blow to Democrats, who had hoped that a more diverse population moving south would turn the region purple, or even blue. James Gimpel, a professor of government at the University of Maryland, said that may still happen in the long run, because significant political changes in states as large as Florida and Texas may require 10 to 20 years time.

Kimpel said it’s no surprise that so many of the top Republican candidates are from the South, including former President Donald Trump and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, as well as South Carolina’s Nikki Haley and Tim Scott.

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For now, though, Maurice Washington, who recently stepped down as chairman of the Charleston County Republican Party, is happy with what he sees. Over coffee and a croissant in Charleston’s Historic District, he said the number of followers on the party’s social media sites jumped to nearly 26,000 from 4,700 before the outbreak. He attributes much of that growth to transplants.

“They don’t want to raise their kids in places like New York and California. There’s a lot of that,” Washington said.

rising inequality
For a century and a half, the South has struggled to overcome its status as the economic backwater of the United States. Even now, despite some new prosperity, the region tends to be poorer and lower than most other parts of the country. There is no doubt that the legacy of slavery and apartheid runs deeper than anywhere.

Washington has seen the changes — for better and for worse — up close.

Washington says transplant-driven gentrification is making rent and home prices unaffordable for many and hollowing out Charleston’s black neighborhoods. When he first joined the city council in 1990, blacks made up 42 percent of the population. That percentage has since halved to 20%, according to the Census Bureau.

Across the Cooper River from downtown Charleston, black residents of Gula ancestry recently towed a 119-year-old schoolhouse for black students two miles from Boone Hall Plantation, which is still operating, Some of their enslaved ancestors worked there. They are preserving some of the history before it gets bulldozed to make way for the new highway. John Wright, chairman of the African American Settlement Community History Commission, said the goal is for the building to open to the public next year after extensive repairs.

“If you live in a community that doesn’t have your culture and history, then you’re not a community anymore,” said Fred Lincoln, a board member of the council.

In Nocati, Florida, just south of Jacksonville, the inequality and poverty that still pervades much of the South is hard to spot. The median sale price of a single-family home here has jumped 62% to $773,500 in three years, according to real estate marketplace Redfin. The local school is considered the top in the state, and golf carts are so ubiquitous on the street that Publix supermarkets offer parking for golf carts.

Steven Hertzberg is a tech entrepreneur who moved with his family from Sonoma County, CA 15 months ago and now works at The Link, a tech-oriented coworking space in St. Dance lessons and yoga.

“Just drive around the neighborhood here. It feels like being in Disneyland,” Herzberg said. “You’ll see teenagers driving around in golf carts, electric scooters.”

— With assistance from Amanda L Gordon, Kyle Kim, Andre Tartar and Reade Pickert.