An announcement could be made soon if the Triangle will land a new Apple campus, which could mean an influx of up to 10,000 new jobs for the area.
But while civic boosters have expressed benefits about landing the tech giant, some small-business owners in the Triangle say not so fast.
Jennifer Martin, executive director of Shop Local Raleigh, worries about how the Silicon Valley giant will impact small business owners and their firms.
“The small businesses are the largest employers in our area, and collectively, when you add them up together, small-business is the backbone of our economy,” she said.
Martin’s group is a nonprofit that represents 700 locally-owned independent businesses that operate in the Triangle.
She said her members have been on edge ever since Apple started eyeing central North Carolina for a new campus.
Business boosters have previously told WRAL News that Apple’s investment would range between $1.5 billion and $2 billion, with jobs paying on average around $130,000 a year. Many of the jobs would be high-tech research and development jobs.
Said Martin: “We’re excited about the opportunities. It could mean more foot traffic, but we also just want to make sure that we are really carefully examining how much we are offering in incentives to make sure we’ve got the ability to pay for the infrastructure that’s needed.”
Last month, state lawmakers expanded incentives packages that can be used to to help lure large companies that are thinking about relocating to the Tar Heel State.
The state incentives make it easier for governments to award tax breaks to companies that create jobs in North Carolina. The incentives also extend the number of years companies can collect incentives, while lowering the job creation threshold so Apple, as well as Amazon, can qualify for the economic boosts.
House minority leader Darren Jackson says he’s hopeful that those firms will ultimately decide to move to the Triangle.
“I’ve heard at least two names, (and) there could be more,” Jackson, D-Wake said. “I think that could be very helpful to us in recruiting these companies.”
Some small-business owners are questioning the level of incentives being dangled to companies.
“Some of the numbers that I’ve heard are quite large for tax incentives,” said Cheryl Fraser, owner of Galatea Boutique. “I’m not sure that’s the route that we always need to go.”
As a boutique owner, Fraser is used to dressing the women of Raleigh.
But with Apple considering the Triangle for a new campus, she says she’s worried about the shirt on her own back.
“It’s a doubled-edged sword and that we need to just be really prepared,” Fraser said.
Martin said she is concerned about property values and the impact it could have on the bottom line of small-business owners.
“It’s a true reality that property values are increasing here, not only as far as your home but also for businesses,” she said. “So, how are we helping them sustain and compete with that high rent cost?”
WRAL’s Afred Charles, web editor; Mikaya Thurmond, reporter, contributed to this story.