No Apple, no Amazon, but Wake County still generated 14,000 new jobs since the search for HQ2 began
by Mandy Mitchell, WRAL reporter, and Dave Hendrickson, WRAL enterprise editor — May 30, 2019
When you walk into the lobby of Pendo in downtown Raleigh, you are greeted by a giant plastic T-Rex.
Downstairs, there’s a cooler full of free soda next to a ping pong table. Every Thursday lunch is served, for free, to the entire company.
These are the kind of perks that have become standard in modern technology companies, and they’re all part of working for Pendo, a 5-year-old software company.
“We help other folks who are creating digital experiences, software applications. We help them create better experiences for their customers,” said Todd Olson, Pendo’s CEO.
Pendo has been super successful in that arena. So successful that the company is growing at a rapid pace.
“We are about 333 people today and we are adding, right now, about 50 people a quarter,” Olson said.
This sort of growth has flown mostly under the radar during a time when the area was fully focused on behemoths like Apple and Amazon. Last summer, the Triangle was a finalist in Amazon’s hunt for an HQ2 and was rumored to be on the short list for a new Apple campus. Apple was promising 10,000 or more jobs. Amazon’s original estimate was 50,000.
But Apple went to Austin, where it already had its second-largest campus, and Amazon went to Northern Virginia and New York, saying each area would get 25,000 jobs. It pulled the plug in New York when local opposition grew loud. In already-expensive Northern Virginia, home prices are soaring in anticipation of Amazon’s arrival, even though no jobs have yet arrived.
Meanwhile, in the last 18 months or so — since Amazon first announced its HQ2 search — Wake County has quietly added more than 14,000 jobs, according to figures put together by the Raleigh Chamber of Commerce. It welcomed 50 new companies and saw 140 existing companies expand — a total investment of more than $727 million. Not bad for a “loser.”
“For us as a market and as a region, it’s the type of growth we anticipate,” said Michael Haley, executive director for Wake County Economic Development.