In non-snow related news…
A snow-covered Triangle woke up this morning to the news that Raleigh made the cut and is one of only 20 remaining cities in the running for Amazon’s second headquarters out of 238 candidates.
The final decision is still in the distance, but it’s hard to understate the impact that the headquarters could have on the entire region. Amazon plans to invest $5 billion and create 50,000 high-paying jobs in the city and region it selects.
Of course, as is the case with anything Raleigh does, it can’t do it alone. The “Raleigh” bid is really a “Research Triangle Park” bid, with seven sites in and around the area pitched for consideration.
With that in mind, it’s hard to pinpoint the impact a Raleigh win would have for Sanford and Lee County. If the headquarters took up residence in southwestern Wake County (Cary or Apex) or even the southern part of Research Triangle Park, it would obviously have a larger impact than if it were placed in Knightdale or Wake Forest.
But no matter where it goes, it would be a game changer for the whole region, including Sanford. That’s the word from Bob Joyce, economic development director for the Sanford Area Growth Alliance.
“Amazon choosing the Triangle would be a transformational event, not just in numbers – jobs and payroll – although the financial benefits of a project that size are phenomenal,” Joyce said. “The transformation would be in the character of the workforce and the diversity it would bring to our economic sectors. The ripple effect would last for years.”
Even if Amazon workers didn’t buy homes in Sanford, Joyce said, supply chain investments from related businesses could locate here. There would be other changes as well.
“Their supply chain, workforce training, travel, racial and ethnic diversity, it would create a new normal in almost every aspect of life in central North Carolina,” he said.
The entity created to woo Amazon to the Triangle created a video that gives a glimpse of the area’s pitch. No scenes directly show Sanford (there are water shots that could have been taken in area rivers).
Still, 50,000 high-paying jobs is bound to impact us. Think about it this way. The largest employer in the Triangle outside of the State itself (prisons, schools, etc.) and local hospital groups is IBM. It employees only 10,000 folks. Locally, we think of the Wyeth plant (now Pfizer) as having a tremendous impact on Sanford when it moved here (and it did,) but at its peak it employed far less than even IBM.
Not to mention the prestige. Amazon owner and subject of presidential ire Jeff Besos is now the richest person in the world. Amazon may even overtake Walmart as the largest retailer and company soon. And just imagine how fast you would get those pajamas you ordered your wife on Dec. 23 for Christmas if Amazon HQ2 was just up the road.
You should be rooting for Raleigh. We at the Rant heartily welcome our new Amazon overlords.