The rating on Raleigh, N.C.'s bonds are secured by a first lien on net revenues of the combined utility system and are on parity with the 1996 bonds. The rating reflects the system's: Strong area economy, Sufficient capacity for the next 20 years, Competitive rates and sufficient rate flexibility, Strong coverage of senior-lien debt, and Modest future capital needs. Raleigh serves about 89,000 retail water and sewer customers in an area that exhibits low unemployment and healthy growth and benefits from its proximity to the Research Triangle Park, which attracts high-paying, technology intensive manufacturing companies to the area. Large employers include Duke University Medical Center, IBM, and two state universities. Employment has grown 2%-3% annually since 1995, and unemployment rates...
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