Study: Chatham Park to produce 115,000 jobs

Posted January 27, 2015

— 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.


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  • Bob Bruck Jan 31, 2015
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    These numbers are so inflated and unrealistic as to be comical. Disgraceful economic analysis.

  • 50s Child Jan 27, 2015

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    "Sale" is not a verb. I don't get it. Down here you say "they had to sale" but talk about something being "for sell".

  • miseem Jan 27, 2015

    Build it and they will come only works in the movies. Sounds like this study is assuming the building will occur, then figuring out how much infrastructure and how many jobs will be needed for the people living in the development. And once again, ignoring other development in the triangle region that may draw business and individual relocation to the Triangle. Another big question is what road improvements will be needed for this. Unless the developers are figuring all the people living there will work there.

  • miseem Jan 27, 2015

    How much of this will be totally new job creation compared to shifting jobs from other areas in the region to Chatham County? Considering all the other developments in the Triangle area, I don't see where something new in Chatham County is going to pull people and comanies from New York or other states. And I've never been really impressed with Walden's predictions. Seems he is the go to guy for any developer or other group trying to take bad news and put a good spin on it. I remember a few years ago that gas pricing would have to go up a lot more to impact average citizens. I winde what he thinks about the price drop?

  • SICK OF YOU LIBERALS Jan 27, 2015

    Get over it was bound to happen sooner or later and I for one will benefit from your loss $$$$$$

  • jwbmom1965 Jan 27, 2015

    There should not be one more house built in Chatham County until at least 2 new high schools are built. We should also go back to track schools, where all are built the same, small, medium and large.

  • Maurice Pentico Jr. Jan 27, 2015
    user avatar

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    I like it when the private sector moves on a project.... funded by individuals... not tax payers. I like it even more when it becomes a success.

  • Eq Videri Jan 27, 2015
    user avatar

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    Yes, the government built GTP -- with poor rail service and no interstate highway. Dumb.

    This is private-sector development based on an actual market, not a wing and a prayer.

  • Maurice Pentico Jr. Jan 27, 2015
    user avatar

    Didnt someone build a "Global Transpark"...

    And no one came.

  • Hippy_mom Jan 27, 2015

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    The original land owners often can't pay the taxes anymore and are left with little choice but to sale.