Business

Amazon clarifies: It's Triangle, not just Raleigh on HQ2 shortlist

Posted January 22, 2018 5:54 p.m. EST
Updated July 13, 2018 11:20 a.m. EDT

— After Amazon narrowed the list of possibilities for a proposed second headquarters to 20 locations last week, hundreds of cities vying for the promised 50,000 jobs were disappointed.

In Durham, Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Geoff Durham reported to city leaders that he was "left with a feeling of reluctant satisfaction" when Raleigh made the list but Durham was not mentioned.

After all, the Triangle submitted bids for seven sites for the company's consideration. The regional partners backing those bids have not made specific locations – or much else about the proposals – public, at the risk of losing a competitive advantage.

But Durham knew there was more than just Raleigh in the running. So he asked.

"We sought clarification with our regional partners as well as economic development leaders from the state," Geoff Durham wrote in an email to City Manager Thomas Bonfield. "The team reached out directly to Amazon to clarify that it was the Research Triangle Region that was still under consideration. On Friday evening, Amazon confirmed what we had anticipated, and it was in fact the entire region (including Durham) that was selected to advance."

After learning that "Raleigh" was on the short list, North Carolina Secretary of Commerce Tony Copeland pointed to the Triangle's business climate and "technically sophisticated workforce" as draws for Amazon.

"We are excited to learn of Amazon’s continuing interest in North Carolina and the Raleigh area as a location for their HQ2 project. I’m not surprised that Amazon recognizes the many benefits the Research Triangle region offers," he said.

Raleigh is by far the smallest metro area by population among the finalists, just behind Nashville, Tenn., U.S. census figures show.

Others on the list include the usual major tech hubs of Austin, Boston and New York. Other contenders include Chicago, Indianapolis and Columbus, Ohio, in the Midwest.

Los Angeles was the only West Coast city on the list. In the South, Miami and Atlanta joined Raleigh and Nashville on the list.

Like the Triangle bids, much of the process, including any next steps, has been opaque.

The company had stipulated that it was seeking to be near a metropolitan area with more than a million people; be able to attract top technical talent; be within 45 minutes of an international airport; have direct access to mass transit; and be able to expand that headquarters to as much as 8 million square feet in the next decade.

But Amazon also made it very clear that it wanted tax breaks, grants and any other incentives.

Amazon said it will make a final selection sometime this year.