A new study by NCSU economist Dr. Michael Walden says the controversial and massive 7,000-acre Chatham Park development will have a substantial economic impact extending well beyond Chatham County.

Over 40 years, Chatham Park will produce 115,000 jobs and drive $154 billion in total economic impact over the next 40 years, Walden projected in the study. Walden described the related jobs and economic impact outside of the development as “leakage.”

The Chatham Economic Development Corporation commissioned the study, which was disclosed Tuesday.

Research Triangle Park covers nearly 7,000 acres, and  some 50,000 people work there. However, the Park focuses on businesses. Chatham Park is a combination residential and business development. A new development plan for RTP does call for residential areas.

Some residents in nearby Pittsboro have sued, trying to block the Chatham development.

Ground was broken in December.

 “Prior to conducting the study, I knew that a project with the size and scope of Chatham Park will have a significant impact on the local, regional, and state economies, and after calculating the numbers, the impact is truly impressive,” said Walden, who writes extensively about economic issues in North Carolina.

Breaking down jobs and economic investment by region, the study projects:

  • 61,000 permanent jobs in Chatham County
  • 99,000 permanent jobs for the Triangle region
  • 115,000 permanent jobs for North Carolina
  • $80 billion in Chatham County
  • $140 billion for the Triangle
  • $154 billion for the state 

As planned, the mixed-use development will include some 22,000 homes or residential units plus 2.4 million square feet of commercial space, 16.6 million square feet of office space and 2.5 million square feet of “civic, school and hospital space,” Walden noted.

“A project of this size and scope will clearly have large economic impacts. Indeed, the calculated economic impacts on Chatham County, the Triangle region, and North Carolina are significant,” Walden wrote in the report.

“After accounting for the leakage of some spending and employment impacts to outside of the area as well as direct and supply-chain effects within the area, the analysis shows the peak of annual spending generated from the project will occur in year 40 at $4 billion for Chatham County, $7 billion for the Triangle region, and $7.7 billion for North Carolina.

“After year 40 as construction ends and full occupancy occurs, the annual spending impacts moderate to $3.6 billion in Chatham County, $6.2 billion in the Triangle region, and $6.8 billion in North Carolina (all dollar values are in 2014 purchasing power dollars).

“Also, after the full build-out of Chatham Park, the development will have created 61,000 permanent jobs in Chatham County, 99,000 permanent jobs in the Triangle region (including Chatham County), and 115,000 permanent jobs in North Carolina (including
Chatham County and the Triangle region).”

The study can be read online at: http://www.chathamedc.org/sites/default/files/story/Economic-Impact-of-Chatham-Park-Development_0.pdf

In releasing the study, Dianne Reid, president of the Chatham Economic Development Corporation, said Chatham Park will be a boost to the Triangle economy in ways other than jobs.

 “Chatham Park offers companies that are looking to relocate or expand their operations a marquee location in the Research Triangle region with direct access to highly educated talent from some of the country’s top universities,” she said.

That’s not to understate the  local impact, she noted.

“This project alone will quadruple the number of permanent jobs in Chatham County, as well as double the county’s tax revenue,” Reid said.