Posted Sep. 7, 2017 at 11:22 a.m.

NCSU economist: Triangle 'will be at top' of Amazon HQ2 project

Published: 2017-09-07 11:22:25
Updated: 2017-09-07 11:22:25

After reading Amazon's shopping list for a new second headquarters worth some $5 billion and creating 50,000 jobs, NCSU economist Dr. Michael Walden declares: "I think the Triangle region will be at the top of their list."

Here's why.

"We have the space, an existing strong tech sector, and a continuing supply of educated workers," Walden tells The Skinny.

And to Walden, who closely follows economic development issues, a victory for the state would be a mammoth game-changer.

"If North Carolina lands the second Amazon HQ, I think it would be the single biggest economic development news in the state since the establishment of the RTP.," he declared.

Responding to a series of questions, Walden spelled out numerous arguments in favor of Amazon selecting the Triangle for that mega project

"Reports indicate [Amazon CEO Jeff] Bezos puts a major focus on qualified labor.," he noted.

"North Carolina would give Amazon a presence on the east coast to complement their Seattle HQ."

Amazon cites quality of life as a key issue, and Walden pointed out:

"I have visited Seattle and see many similarities to Raleigh."

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Walden expanded on his observations after doing some more research.

"I pulled up Amazon's RFP on line, and it only reinforces my view that the Triangle should be very competitive," he said, citing multiple available resources to meet Amazon requirements.

"As a mid-sized area, we still have the accessibility to the airport and downtown that Amazon wants.

"NCSU has the ability to expand buildings and programs - especially on the Centennial Campus.

"And maybe something creative could be done on at least a portion of the Dix Property to meet Amazon's needs - as well as in RTP.

"RDU has thought about another runway to accommodate expansion, so this could also be an element in their decision-making.

"So, to channel Goldilocks, the Triangle may be the perfect size for Amazon - not too small ( has universities, an international airport, and a critical mass of economic development) but not too big (meaning it has room to expand)."

Walden also believes the state's economic developers will be competitive themselves in preparing a bid and then negotiating terms.

"If all regions are operating on the same schedule, then I am confident economic recruiters at the state and local levels - and including the [North Carolina] private-public partnership headed by Chris Chung - can make a credible and timely bid," Walden explained/

"As I emphasized in my previous email, this is likely a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for a project this large and such a game-changer."

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