Study: Chatham Park to produce 115,000 jobs
Posted January 27, 2015
Pittsboro, N.C. — The controversial 7,000-acre Chatham Park development will have a substantial economic impact extending well beyond Chatham County, according to a study by a North Carolina State University economist.
Over 40 years, Chatham Park will produce 115,000 jobs and drive $154 billion in economic impact, Mike Walden projected in the study, which was commissioned by the Chatham Economic Development Corporation and was released Tuesday.
“This project alone will quadruple the number of permanent jobs in Chatham County, as well as double the county’s tax revenue," said Dianne Reid, president of Chatham EDC.
Walden compared Chatham Park to the development of Research Triangle Park, which also covers nearly 7,000 acres and now has about 50,000 people working there.
"It is going to be a major piece of the Triangle," he said. "When people think of the Triangle and now they think of RTP, they're going to think of Chatham County also."
Although a new development plan for RTP calls for residential areas, the area has focused on business for more than 50 years. Meanwhile, Chatham Park will be a combination of residential and business development from the start.
“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
Jeffrey Starkweather, who heads the Pittsboro Matters group that has twice sued to overturn the county's approval of Chatham Park, doesn't put much value in Walden's analysis.
"It's more of a public relations effort than substantive study," Starkweather said.
Developers haven't answered key questions, he said, such as whether there's even a demand for the jobs Walden is forecasting.
"We have not received any information like that – the town hasn't – about what the jobs are, what type they are, where they're coming from," Starkweather said.
As planned, the mixed-use development would include about 22,000 residences, 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.
"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," he wrote in the report.
After that, he said, the annual spending impact would drop to $3.6 billion in Chatham County, $6.2 billion in the Triangle and $6.8 billion in North Carolina.
Reid predicted that Chatham Park would boost 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.