The economic impacts of an Apple campus in the Triangle area, should the Cupertino, California-based company choose North Carolina, would likely trickle down to the Wilmington area, those in the local business community said Friday.
Recent news reports have indicated the Triangle area is among sites on the company’s list for a new campus location, while some have reported that the area is at the top of the list. Apple has not yet announced its decision.
Those in the local business community said impacts of an Apple campus would reach across the state, including into the Wilmington area.
Having a major company like Apple in the state is a "great way to form an industry cluster," said Diane Durance, director of the University of North Carolina Wilmington’s Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship (CIE).
Immediate impacts the campus would have on the Wilmington area, she said, would be the job opportunities for local graduates and other locals interested in the tech industry. While that would create somewhat of a "brain drain" on the area, Durance said that there would also be the potential to attract talent here.
“One of the nice things about the large tech companies is that there are often people that leave because they have that entrepreneurial spirit leading them to create their own … businesses,” she said. “So certainly, the overall impact of having an Apple headquarters will be huge. It will draw a lot of other tech ventures. There will be a lot more start-ups to develop related tech.”
She said the attractiveness of the community and its close proximity to the Triangle is also beneficial in that the area would be a lure for that talent along with angel investors, technologies and other business.
The area's academic community would also benefit by way of being closer to Apple leaders.
“There’s going to be a lot of opportunities to engage with them than we would have if they selected another state,” she said.
Opportunities lie in bringing Apple leaders to the area for lectures and other academic activities. There is also the potential collaboration with those leaders through state-led tech organizations such as NC TECH, she said.
But a campus in the Triangle would also mean potential impacts to the local real estate market and area tourism, officials said.
Vance Young, Realtor with Intracoastal Realty, said that the market for second homes in the Cape Fear region is already coming from the Raleigh area. Having an Apple campus so close to Wilmington would boost sales.
“That’s still our biggest market, is the Triangle … for second homes on Wrightsville Beach, Figure Eight [Island], and Topsail. So we would certainly see a nice benefit," Young said.
And it’s not just area beach towns that could benefit, he said, but also the investments that would go into downtown Wilmington real estate.
“I think downtown Wilmington is on the verge of something like Asheville … We are getting to be known as a foodie and brewery [destination] and we’ve got the riverfront and the culture … all that is really bringing people to the area,” Young said.
“Very few people can offer that one-two punch that we’ve got,” Young said about area beaches and a historic downtown riverfront.
Natalie English, president and CEO of the Wilmington Chamber of Commerce, also highlighted the impacts to area tourism, business and real estate.
“Some of the executives would find our beaches fabulous places for second homes,” she said. That also extends into tech and IT workers, she said.
“I know we already have this little community of folks that work for companies in Raleigh that live here,” she said, adding that some within the tech and IT industries don't necessarily have to work within an office, but can work remotely or from home.
“I meet people who live here but their paycheck is from a company that sits in the Triangle,” English said. “I think, all and all, it’s going to be a great benefit for the entire state of North Carolina and we will see that trickle down here as well."