Charlotte hyped up its appeal to millennials in its pitch to Amazon, but the city just didn’t have enough tech workers to meet the internet giant’s needs for a second headquarters.
That’s what Amazon told local officials in charge of Charlotte’s bid, the Charlotte Regional Partnership said Monday.
Charlotte officials have been tight-lipped about the city’s bid to land Amazon’s second headquarters campus, and haven’t disclosed any details about what tax incentives or prospective sites they offered in the attempt to lure Amazon. But in a summary of the Seattle tech giant’s feedback, the Charlotte Regional Partnership, the group that submitted the bid, said the city’s “pool of tech talent is lacking compared to other markets.”
Charlotte’s current pool of tech workers stands at about 47,150, well short of the average tech talent pool of Amazon’s candidate cities, which is more than 105,000.
The city’s bid relied heavily upon recent and future tech talent growth, according to the partnership. It also relied on the support of industry leaders with prior experience in attracting tech talent, although the partnership did not say which leaders that included.
“In development of Charlotte USA’s submission to Amazon, existing tech talent was a known obstacle. The proposal emphasized areas around tech talent where Charlotte is strongest, especially its rapid growth,” the partnership said.
Some local officials were surprised Charlotte missed out on the 20-city shortlist. They knew the city was a long shot to win the second headquarters, but they expected to make the first cut. That made it galling to see peer cities such as Raleigh, Nashville, Indianapolis and Columbus, Ohio, picked ahead of Charlotte.
Most of them have some identifiable reasons they made the list and Charlotte did not, however. Columbus is a state capital and home to a flagship research university, as are Austin and Nashville. The Raleigh area is home to Duke, UNC-Chapel Hill and NC State, as well as the Research Triangle Park. Indianapolis is a state capital and about an hour from Purdue University and Indiana University.
In fact, all of the smaller cities that made Amazon’s shortlist are state capitals except Pittsburgh, which is home to Carnegie Mellon University, a national leader in high-tech areas such as artificial intelligence and robotics.
The Raleigh area has about 60,900 tech workers, significantly more than Charlotte, according to figures from the partnership. Columbus has about 48,000 tech workers, roughly the same as Charlotte, while finalists Pittsburgh (42,130), Indianapolis (35,010) and Nashville (27,270) have fewer.
Other finalist cities have far more tech workers, such as New York City (246,180), Washington, D.C. (243,360) and Dallas/Fort Worth (161,150).
Despite not making the shortlist, the partnership said bidding for Amazon was still a positive experience.
“Now more than ever, the Charlotte region is well-positioned to capitalize on future tech opportunities because of valuable lessons learned from the submission to Amazon,” the partnership concluded.