Want a house near Amazon’s HQ2? Forget it

Realtor Stephen Karbelk gets the question all the time. “People ask me, ‘Can I buy something near Amazon?’” said the president of RealMarkets, a Century 21 New Millennium team. “And I say, ‘No, you really can’t.’” In the 22202 ZIP code – which comprises Crystal City, Pentagon City, Aurora Hills, Aurora Highlands and Arlington Ridge – there were just seven active listings in February, down from 21 a year ago, according to Redfin, a national real estate brokerage. That’s two single-family homes. Four condos. And one townhouse. The 22202 inventory has plummeted 84 percent since November, when Amazon.com Inc. announced it had selected the neighborhood for its second headquarters. Triangle Business Journal

Move your HQ to the South. . .everyone else is

Citing housing costs for their employees, operational costs for the company itself and a lack of labor, companies are high-tailing it to the South from California, the Northeast and the Midwest. It’s nothing new, it’s been going on for decades, but never as prevalent as today. And we’re not talking about opening operation centers and other satellite facilities in the region. Many of these companies are moving their whole kit and caboodle — their global or North American headquarters — to the American South. South Florida, Northern Virginia, Atlanta, Nashville, Austin, Raleigh and Charlotte are where most of them are relocating their headquarters. But the most successful headquarter relocation market is in Texas, especially Dallas-Fort Worth and the many cities that make up that market such as Irving-Las Colinas, Plano, Richardson, Frisco and McKinney. Southern Business & Development

SpaceX’s most powerful Starship and rocket will be built in Florida and Texas

A nearly 400-foot tall, two-stage rocket will be built in Florida, according to billionaire entrepreneur Elon Musk. In a tweet on March 17, Musk, who owns popular rocket company SpaceX Inc., said, “Working on regulatory approval for both Boca Chica, Texas, and Cape Kennedy, Florida. Will also be building Starship & Super Heavy simultaneously in both locations.” A timeline of when SpaceX will begin building the 387-foot tall rocket and exactly where on Florida’s Space Coast it would be built has not been determined. However, previous reports hint at how quickly SpaceX would need its most powerful rocket. Orlando Business Journal

Steel Dynamics could be huge win for San Patricio County, Texas — if it comes

SINTON, Texas — The idea of a proposed $1.8 billion flat roll steel mill has drawn a lot of excitement in this small town. For the city of just over 5,400 people, the project from Indiana-based Steel Dynamics could represent an opportunity for growth that would also bring at least 600 new jobs to the area. That anticipation was on full display Wednesday, when more than 200 people packed into the San Patricio County Civic Center in Sinton for a meet and greet with company representatives. “It’s a home run if it happens,” said 53-year-old Sinton resident Marty Israel. They key word in that statement is “if.” That’s because Steel Dynamics has not yet made a decision on where it will locate its new steel mill. The company announced in November that it was planning to build a new facility in the southwest United States, and would be looking at a number of potential sites. Corpus Christi Caller Times

How the Carolinas developed its centers of technological innovation

While Silicon Valley continues to be the indisputable leader in technology development, cities throughout the U.S. are fostering entrepreneurship and innovation — all to join the knowledge economy and possibly rival the champion. Among these growing regions blossomed a belt of cities across the Carolina’s – Charlotte, Greenville, Charleston, and Raleigh quickly becoming hotbeds for technological innovation. These cities of the South became home to some of the most highly-skilled workforces on the East Coast, transforming tobacco warehouses and textile mills into luxury offices for tech giants like Dell, Cisco, EMC, NetApp, and IBM. The growing tech sector in the region led RoundTower, a Cincinnati-based technology solutions provider, to expand into the region. Charlotte Business Journal

After concerns in rural NC, treasurer ups reimbursement plan

As North Carolina Treasurer Dale Folwell continues his fight with providers to forward his transformative reimbursement change for the State Employee Health Plan, he has now added funding to bolster rural hospital support – a popular target of providers’ arguments against his plan. This week, Fowell announced an additional $52 million annual increase in his new model, by way of increased reimbursement rates for rural hospitals. In late 2018, Folwell unveiled a new reimbursement strategy for the State Health Plan. The plan, a division of the Department of the Treasurer, provides health-care coverage for more than 727,000 state employees, retirees and their dependents. Charlotte Business Journal

Where Charlotte ranks among the best, worst places in U.S. for first-time homebuyers

Looking to buy your first home? Bankrate.com is out with a new study on the best and worst places in the U.S. for first-time buyers. The analysis from the consumer financial services company puts the Charlotte-Concord-Gastonia metro at No. 17 on that list. The Raleigh metro came in even higher, at No. 2. Those are the only two locales in the Carolinas to be included in the ranking, which focuses on the nation’s 50 largest metros. The ranking was based on 13 measures related to affordability, culture, job market, market tightness and safety. Pittsburgh tops the overall list, with Oklahoma City; Hartford, Connecticut; and St. Louis rounding out the top five. Charlotte Business Journal

‘Hope for the best’: How Alabama’s soaring auto industry could be stifled by Trump tariffs

Toyota is an economic powerhouse in Alabama, promising yet more hundreds of millions in new investment. Donald Trump is a political darling among Alabama conservatives, and a heavy favorite to again win this deep red state in 2020. But these two titans could be on a collision course if uncertainty over a potential 25 percent tariff on foreign automobiles and auto parts isn’t resolved soon. If that happens, Alabama Republicans might find themselves caught in a vise and having to choose sides: The company that’s a jobs-generating jewel, or the president whom they adore. Some Alabama lawmakers are already urging “patience” in the aftermath of Toyota North American executive Jim Lentz’s warning last week that the company could reconsider its planned $750 million investments in five Southern states if the tariff threats become reality. AL.com

Birmingham’s ‘best opportunities lie ahead,’ says outgoing business alliance CEO

Brian Hilson still isn’t revealing anything about his next step, but he seems excited about it. “I’ve got a unique opportunity to do something I’ve always had in the back of my mind,” he said. “The opportunity came along, and I’m really excited about it.” Earlier this month Hilson, the outgoing president and CEO of the Birmingham Business Alliance, announced he is stepping down from his post effective March 29 to take another economic development position in the state. Details about it should be coming soon, he said. But work in economic development is not a stretch for Hilson, who has spent almost four decades in that field. Beginning in 1980, Hilson has worked with the Birmingham Chamber and, briefly, Mobile’s. He served as a vice president of the Birmingham Metropolitan Development Board and was president and CEO of the Chamber of Commerce of Huntsville/Madison County prior to coming to Birmingham in 2011. AL.com

US Steel’s new employee benefits in Alabama include adoption assistance, gender reassignment surgery coverage

United States Steel Corp. said Thursday it was expanding its paid leave benefits for non-union employees and rolling out a slew of new benefits such as gender reassignment surgery coverage and adoption assistance, a sign that the swift expansion of work-life perks across corporate America in recent years has been adopted among even some of the most traditional companies. The suite of new benefits – which adds eight weeks of paid leave for new fathers or adoptive parents for the first time and expands the amount of paid leave for birth mothers to between 14 and 16 weeks – may not be the most generous program out there for new parents. But experts on paid leave say it signals that the benefit has morphed from a featured perk to table stakes in a labor market where companies are approaching near-full employment. AL.com