That’s The Randle Report for February 15, 2019

Join us again Monday morning for all of the American South’s business, economic development and political news in real time and in one place. Use the sort buttons or the search window to find any story you need to find from last week, last month, last year or several years ago. Click on the headline above to access Southern Business & Development’s website, the economic development magazine of the American South; the third largest economy in the world.

Amazon’s Pivot Raises Scrutiny of Incentive Deals

The collapse of Inc.’s plan to build a second headquarters in New York City has the potential to damp some states’ willingness to offer tax breaks. Spurred by Amazon’s second-headquarters selection process, politicians and groups long opposed to incentive packages have launched legislative efforts to prohibit them in some states. In New York, bills proposed in the State Assembly and Senate call for compacts with other states promising to not provide any company-specific subsidies. Recent pivots by large companies, including Foxconn Technology Group and General Electric Co. , will likely lead to increased attention to incentives tied to performance and timelines, with an emphasis on long-term commitments, said Jeff Finkle, president of the International Economic Development Council, a group that represents economic-development officials across the U.S. The Wall Street Journal

Factory Output Contracts Unexpectedly in January

WASHINGTON—U.S. industrial output fell sharply in January because of a large drop in vehicle production, adding fuel to rising worries about the current economic expansion. Industrial production, a measure of factory, mining and utility output, decreased a seasonally adjusted 0.6% in January from the prior month, the Federal Reserve said Friday. It was unexpected. Economists surveyed by The Wall Street Journal expected a 0.1% gain at the beginning of the year. Last month’s stark production drop was driven, in part, by a precipitous decline in vehicle output. Vehicle assemblies fell in January from a two-year high in December, the Fed said. This signals part of the drop could simply be pull-back from an unsustainable pace of output growth in that category. The Wall Street Journal

PNC economist predicts slower growth but no recession

The title of Stuart Hoffman’s economic forecast for 2019 offered up a pretty good summary of his outlook for the year ahead – in big bold type, the presentation read “Recession Obsession Overblown.” “We think the economy will grow more slowly,” said Hoffman, PNC Bank senior economic adviser. “But there’s a world of difference between an economy growing more slowly and decelerating than an economy hitting a wall, or worse yet, going into reverse.” Virginian Pilot

Northern Virginia Is Keeping Amazon’s 25,000 Jobs, and Wants You to Know It

WASHINGTON — When Amazon canceled its plans to build an expansive corporate campus in New York City this week, officials more than 200 miles away in Northern Virginia decided to make a statement. Their message: their region had its act together, they had been far more prepared and they were free of drama.
The comments came from those in the area that has branded itself National Landing, an amalgamation of Arlington and Alexandria neighborhoods that was the other winner in Amazon’s sweepstakes last year to choose sites for massive new campuses. The New York Times

Planners Say D.C. Region Has Enough Room to Meet Amazon-Induced Housing Demands

Arlington and other localities around the D.C. region have enough room to add the housing necessary to keep pace with the Amazon-driven population influx expected over the coming years — but actually realizing that potential won’t be easy, regional planners say. Researchers with the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments, a coalition of local leaders, have warned in the past that the region needs to add about 100,000 more homes through 2045, or else risk seeing rent prices creep up even higher and more people pushed into the outer suburbs. Their latest data, unveiled yesterday (Wednesday), suggest that localities across Northern Virginia, Maryland and D.C. have already put plans in place to meet even that large number.

It’s unclear how Amazon’s canceled New York deal will impact Virginia

Amazon’s plans in Virginia remain unchanged for now after the company canceled its HQ2 deal in New York City in response to political opposition. It’s unclear what will become of the 25,000 jobs Amazon had planned to bring to the Long Island City neighborhood in Queens. The company referred all questions to a statement that said Amazon’s plans in Northern Virginia remain unchanged. “We do not intend to reopen the HQ2 search at this time,” Amazon’s statement read. “We will proceed as planned in Northern Virginia and Nashville, and we will continue to hire and grow across our 17 corporate offices and tech hubs in the U.S. and Canada.” Virginia Business

Black leaders call for forgiveness, second chance for Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam

“Redemption.” That word was used repeatedly as five black leaders from across Virginia gathered Monday urging state legislators to rescind statements calling for Gov. Ralph Northam’s resignation following his blackface photo scandal. On the steps of the Capitol, former Richmond City Council Member Henry “Chuck” Richardson read a prepared statement, saying that racial issues in the U.S. still permeate virtually every aspect of American life. “There are no more complex, abiding and haunting questions in America than those surrounding race,” Richardson said. “And through it all is the constant that though we have come far, we still have far to go.” “We are drawn here under the Christian doctrine that it is human to err but divine to forgive. We have evaluated the governor’s past performance as we have known him and choose to forgive,” Richardson said. Fairfax Times

Virginia city touted as a startup mecca

Richmond ranks third in a list of midsize cities that are good spots for startups. The list, “Founders: 10 Best Cities (Outside of Silicon Valley) For Your Next Startup,” was compiled by the website BroadbandNow, which collects and analyzes internet providers’ coverage and availability. BroadbandNow considered several factors in drawing up its list of top cities for startups, including access to high-speed internet options, cost of living, startup culture and local culture. “Richmond may not be nationally known for its high-profile startup scene, but the city has been working quietly to change that,” the survey says. Virginia Business

What does Amazon’s decision to ditch New York mean for Atlanta?

Could New York’s loss be Atlanta’s gain? On Thursday, the hearts of economic developers in Atlanta and across the country likely skipped a beat with the stunning news that Amazon was abandoning plans to add 25,000 jobs in New York City. In the announcement, which hit the airwaves just before noon, Amazon said it didn’t plan to re-ignite a competition between cities nationally for the high-paying tech jobs. But the e-commerce giant said it would grow its 17 existing corporate offices and tech hubs — which could be good news for Georgia. Atlanta is one of those tech hubs and, as of last April, Amazon had more than 250 technology employees in the city, largely focused on cloud computing. They’re part of a 4,000-employee Amazon workforce around the state.