RALEIGH – Wake Tech President Stephen Scott says the Triangle region can meet a huge requirement from Amazon in order to win the bidding for the massive Amazon HQ2 project and its 50,000 jobs.

Wake Tech

“An unqualified yes,” he says about Amazon finding the workers it would need.

Scott, a veteran of many economic development projects over the years that included workforce training for companies locating or expanding in the area, points with pride to the quality of workers and says the state’s economic recruiters will be sure to stress that strength to Amazon.

“NC recruiters do play up the quality of our workforce,” he says. “That’s one of our region’s great strengths!”

Amazon on Thursday disclosed that Raleigh is one of the final 20 sites under consideration for the multi-billion-dollar project.

In an Q&A with WRAL TechWire, Scott discusses how the region’s colleges and universities can provide the workers Amazon would need as well as various aspects of the Amazon project based on his own experiences in spearheading Wake Tech expansion projects across the Raleigh area over the past several years.

  • Companies can build anywhere but finding the “right” employees? Do you believe RTP/NC workforce could meet Amazon needs?

An unqualified yes – this is what we do!

The region’s workforce is incredibly diverse and multi-talented, with skill and expertise in IT and artificial intelligence, marketing, design and development, sales, business functions such as accounting and customer service, management, and innovative leadership. Our state has an outstanding education system that includes 58 community colleges, the 16 universities in the UNC System, and 36 private colleges and universities – with a long and successful tradition of cultivating the talent that business and industry need.

Our community colleges design curricula with input from business and industry, and we pride ourselves on being able to retrain and retool professionals to keep pace with industry trends and meet changing demands.

The Triangle region is accessible to everyone in the state in about three hours or less, so a company locating in the Triangle could draw talent from anywhere.

  • Amazon won’t hire 50,000 right away – but is there enough “slack” in the labor market that Amazon could add a few thousand workers quickly?

Yes. The region has ample employees to meet Amazon’s initial needs.

Amazon’s reputation will be a major attraction for those in the local workforce, along with the thousands of graduates coming out of community colleges and the UNC System every year.

In addition, veterans transitioning out of the military and those currently unemployed will be eager to engage with a major corporation like Amazon.

Workers in need of retraining can find it in the community college system, and other workers will be attracted to RTP and Central NC by the prospect of employment with Amazon.

  • How can NC recruiters play up our region’s quality of workforce? Should that be their top priority given what Amazon is saying about its search?

NC recruiters do play up the quality of our workforce — that’s one of our region’s great strengths!

North Carolina is a “Right to Work” state with a strong work ethic in general, and we’ve always been able to meet a diverse demand for skilled workers from IT and biotechnology companies in our region. We have a relatively young workforce with exceptional education and training that’s nimble and flexible.

What we’ve done for IT and biotechnology we can do for e-commerce and distribution technology.

  • Regarding land, Amazon’s Seattle HQ includes 33 buildings, more than 8.1 million square feet of space and 40,000 workers. You know the construction business in NC and Raleigh region itself. having undertaken several expansion projects. Is there enough available land to accommodate a similar size operation here? 

We have ample available land to accommodate an Amazon HQ and 50,000 workers. Our construction industry is robust and made up of great talent and extensive experience.

It includes well-established firms and successful newcomers, including many women-owned and minority-owned companies.

  • What would the impact be on real estate prices?

Real estate prices would likely increase.

  • With so much construction already underway across the Triangle, would more building firms and workers have to be recruited?

We should not have to recruit additional firms given the wealth of options here in the region.

  • If Raleigh were to win, would this not dwarf any other eco development project in the state’s history beyond the 50-year construction of RTP itself?

There’s no doubt about that – there’s nothing close it! Beyond RTP, an Amazon HQ would be the largest economic development project in the history of North Carolina.