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As the High Country prepares for its transition toward another busy tourism season, the Boone Area Chamber of Commerce released its Q1 Economic Indicators Report for 2024.

This quarterly report examines five key statistics within the Watauga County & High Country Economy, featuring a summary of local impacts by Dr. Harry Davis, Appalachian State and North Carolina Bankers Association Professor and long-standing regional economist. The report also includes quick stats and commentary on local commercial real estate activity provided by James Milner, CCIM, Appalachian Commercial Real Estate and a summary of the residential real estate market supplied by Stacie Pineda, Stacie Pineda Real Estate Group.

“Steady is a word that comes to mind when looking at the numbers this quarter, which has its obvious positive and negative connotations,” said David Jackson, President/CEO of the Boone Area Chamber of Commerce. “Sales and occupancy tax collections show that people are still coming here and spending money in our economy, which coincides with tax collections exceeding expectations at the State level. That said, some of our higher volume businesses would be in a better position for success this summer if they can hire staff now, which is hard to do with a sub-3% unemployment rate. While indicators point toward activity in the housing market, those price points are not matching what most of our workforce can afford. The general feeling seems to be that while our economic circumstances are better than many across the state, we still have points in our economy that are driving a lack of certainty.”

“We must continue to work on finding willing workforce participants in new places,” Jackson continued. “The recently released Watauga County Childcare Study suggests 300 workers would enter the labor force if we could match the need for quality, affordable childcare. That is equal to the impact of adding a top-ten business to our community, in terms of employee count, without having to worry about real estate or relocation. We’ve also seen more businesses getting educated on family friendly and recovery friendly policy, which has an opportunity to aid both recruitment and retention strategies across all sectors.”

The Quarter 1 Economic Indicators report was developed, and data compiled with the assistance of the Watauga County Economic Development Commission, Watauga County Tourism Development Authority, High Country Association of Realtors, and the Chamber’s Business Development Committee.

A review of data for the previous four quarters can be found here: