FAYETTEVILLE – Amazon loves North Carolina even if the global tech giant bypassed the state when deciding where to build its massive HQ project three years ago.
Like kudzu, Amazon continues to grow its presence across the state even though the vast majority of jobs coming are directly tied to its warehouse and ecommerce delivery ecosystem rather than higher-paying engineering, office and management jobs.
To play off the Amazon “Prime” service, North Carolina has become prime territory.
The company announced in September it anticipated adding as many as 6,000 jobs in North Carolina, but did not disclose the location of those roles. And the rush to hire continues.
Amazon’s workforce in the state has soared to more than 27,000 – and investments have reached $5 billion, a company spokesperson explains. From a new center in Cary to a massive warehouse in Garner and a new operation in Johnston County and points west and south, the land rush is on.
That growth is not on the scale of HQ2, but Amazon ended up splitting the project between the Washington, D.C. are and New York before dropping its Big Apple plans after facing public pushback.
So, right now, the loss of HQ2 doesn’t look quite as bad as it did at the time.
The latest growth news came Wednesday when Amazon confirmed it will build a new fulfillment center in Fayetteville, hiring some 500 workers once the facility opens in 2023, Khim Aday, a spokesperson for Amazon told WRAL TechWire.
The full-time jobs will “pay at least $15 per hour and provide comprehensive benefits to employees from their first day on the job,” said Aday.
It’s the second facility in Cumberland County the company has announced and joins fulfimment and warehousing centers across the Triangle, Triad and Charlotte metro areas.
That first facility will employ some 200 workers, with the newly announced facility expected to hire more than 500 full-time workers paying median annual wages of about $33,000, Robert Van Geons, the president and CEO of the Fayetteville Cumberland Economic Development Corporation told TechWire. Van Geons said the first facility is still under construction.
“Employees at the more than one million-square-foot fulfillment center will pick, pack and ship large customer items, such as sports equipment, patio furniture, fishing rods, pet food, kayaks, bicycles, and larger household goods,” Aday said.
Impact on the region
The region is attracting technology jobs beyond those created by Amazon, as a 2021 report from NC TECH found that Fayetteville experienced a 70% increase in technology job openings year-over-year.
Mooresville-headquartered Powerhome announced in 2020 that it would open a Fayetteville facility. And in 2021, a private developer acquired 515 acres of land in Cumberland County to prepare it for potential industrial development. A broadband internet provider announced plans to invest $70 million to build a fiber optic network in Cumberland County and parts of neighboring Hoke County.
But economic investment by companies adds direct and indirect impact, said Dr. Michael Walden, a William Neal Reynolds Distinguished Professor Emeritus at North Carolina State University.
“Besides the direct jobs and production at the new facilities, the location of a sizable new business facility will have economic impacts broadly in the local economy,” said Walden. “For example, an Amazon fulfillment facility could create 50 jobs in other sectors of the economy for every 100 jobs at the warehouse.”
Amazon continues to grow
According to Aday, Amazon currently employs more than 27,000 full-time employees based in the state of North Carolina, following the company’s first hires in the state in 2010.
And more growth could be coming, even beyond Cumberland County.
That’s because following the onset of the global coronavirus pandemic, e-commerce sales have increased.
And, according to the most recent data from The Census Bureau of the Department of Commerce, 13% of all retail sales during the third quarter of 2021 occurred via an e-commerce channel.
Investment in NC
Aday told WRAL TechWire that the company has invested more than $5 billion in North Carolina, when factoring in infrastructure and employee compensation.
“Amazon’s investments have contributed more than $5.5 billion in GDP to the North Carolina economy and have helped create 33,000 indirect jobs on top of Amazon’s direct hires,” said Aday.
“For every $1 million of sales from the facility,” said Walden. “Could generate another $800,000 in other areas of the economy.”
According to an Amazon website that lists investments in the United States, Amazon’s main investments in North Carolina include:
- 8 Fulfillment and sortation centers
- 9 Delivery stations
- 16 Whole Foods Market locations
- 2 Prime Now fulfillment centers
- 1 Wind farm
- 1 Solar farm
- 1 Amazon 4-Star store
Impact on housing market
The Amazon news is also good for Fayettteville real estate.
In April 2021, Fayetteville was one of the top five hottest real estate markets in the country, according to an indicator tracked by the National Association of REALTORS. And recent data from ATTOM Data Solutions shows that Cumberland County is the location where there are the fewest percentage of “equity rich” homeowners, at just 7.8%.
The latest available market data from the Longleaf Pine REALTORS®, Inc., the association of real estate professionals for Cumberland County and the surrounding region, showed a year-over-year increase of about 11% in the number of new listings and the number of closed sales, with the median sale price growing by nearly 14% in 2021 compared to 2020. The median existing single family property sold for $219,250, while the median price of new construction was $290,686 and the median price for a townhome or condo unit was $110,000, according to the December 2021 data.