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Each week, WFAE's "Morning Edition" hosts get a rundown of the biggest business and development stories from The Charlotte Ledger Business Newsletter.

What Does Apple's Announcement Mean For North Carolina?

Trac Vu

Earlier this week, quite possibly the biggest business news of the year in North Carolina was announced. Apple will build its first East Coast campus in the Research Triangle Park. The move is expected to bring at least 3,000 new jobs, paying an average salary of about $187,000. For more perspective on what the announcement means for the state, we turn now to Tony Mecia of the Charlotte Ledger Business Newsletter for our segment BizWorthy.

Marshall Terry: Tony, you spoke to the head of the NC Technology Association about the news. What did he say?

Tony Mecia: Yeah, Marshall, I talked to Brooks Raiford of the Technology Association. He was pretty excited about it. $187,000 a year average salary makes me think maybe you and I got into the wrong line of work or something, Marshall. But, you know, it's pretty exciting news, I think, for North Carolina. But he also made the point that this is building on a lot of other successes that the state has had. Google just announced they're bringing 1,000 jobs to Durham. There's a lot of tech activity both in Raleigh and here in Charlotte, people working in technology for banks, insurance companies. We've got some software companies, all kinds of things going on in tech. And he said it really sort of confirmed that North Carolina is a hotbed of tech talent.

Terry: How much is Apple getting in tax incentives?

Mecia: It's a lot in tax incentives. It's almost $1 billion spread out over 39 years. That's a lot of money. On the other hand, it is going to bring in a bunch of money into North Carolina's coffers in terms of taxes that are paid. So they usually like to try to structure these deals so that they do wind up benefiting the state.

Now, obviously, critics of these deals say in this particular instance, especially, listen, Apple's not really hurting for cash. So why do you need to throw a whole bunch of money at Apple? And the fact of the matter is, it's just sort of the way the game is played. That if we don't pony up money in North Carolina, then Apple takes these jobs and they just go somewhere else that is. So nobody really likes it. But it's just one of those realities of economic development.

Terry: You know, announcements like these are always touted as good news for the community, but there can be negative aspects, too. For example, how much concern is there over what this tech campus will do to property values in that area?

Mecia: I think that's a real concern. I think you're going to have a bunch of people moving from out of state looking for real estate in the Triangle. I think their housing market is like our housing market here. Not as much supply, a lot of demand, prices going way up. So I think there is some concern about that.

It's not just this announcement in a vacuum, but there's a lot of people moving to North Carolina cities for a number of different reasons that creates housing affordability problems, adds to traffic, puts stresses on schools. I mean, there's any number of downsides potentially to growth. So that's certainly something to take a look at.

Terry: Speaking of properties, the Ledger this week reports one part of home ownership appears to be changing, and that is the driveway mailbox. How so?

"Cluster mailboxes" are becoming more popular in new developments in Charlotte.
"Cluster mailboxes" are becoming more popular in new developments in Charlotte.

Mecia: Yeah, it's really interesting, Marshall. In the last few years, especially in the Charlotte region, developers, when they go to build new subdivisions, they're being told by the U.S. Postal Service they can no longer put mailboxes at the end of the driveway. It's sort of a suburban tradition. You walk out to get the mail at the end of the driveway. They're being told instead to construct mailboxes in what are called "cluster mailboxes" at the end of the street. It makes it easier for the post office to distribute the mail more efficiently — and not have to kind of dodge trash trucks and cars parked on the street.

Terry: Tony, several times on this segment, we've talked about the city of Charlotte's 2040 Plan. There's been some major opposition to it, especially over a provision on single-family zoning. But now you report that it seems another complaint is emerging — that the whole plan is just too long.

Mecia: Yeah, you know, this is a 320-page plan that was developed over the last few years that the city developed after a number of workshops, community events. It's not exactly light reading, Marshall. It's not exactly something you would take to the beach. You know, it's fairly dense and it has a lot of specific policy proposals in it — ways to achieve things that a lot of us wouldn't disagree with necessarily. You know, making sure that everybody in Charlotte is close to a grocery store, for example. Or keeping the charm and the history of Charlotte. Those are things people don't disagree with. But some of the specific policy prescriptions have gotten some opposition.

And so the thinking among some City Council members is maybe what if we slim it down? What if we just keep it kind of general on things that we can all agree on? As opposed to some of these more contentious issues. So that's really one way that they're looking at maybe altering this plan so that it can be approved by the City Council.

Terry: All right, Tony, thank you.

Mecia: Thanks, Marshall.

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Marshall came to WFAE after graduating from Appalachian State University, where he worked at the campus radio station and earned a degree in communication. Outside of radio, he loves listening to music and going to see bands - preferably in small, dingy clubs.