Raleigh Has Made the Shortlist for Amazon’s HQ2 | News
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Thursday, January 18, 2018

Raleigh Has Made the Shortlist for Amazon’s HQ2

Posted by on Thu, Jan 18, 2018 at 9:35 AM

As yet, we don’t have much info beyond what’s in the headline: Raleigh is included on a list of twenty cities that made the shortlist for Amazon’s HQ2, according to CNBC Washington correspondent Kayla Tausche.  The Triangle region of one of 238 cities in 43 states to submit bids to Amazon last year. And while ours didn’t spell out potential incentives—officials told the INDY that they’d propose an incentive package if they made the first cut, which has apparently happened—many of the others did.

According to Wake County Commissioner Matt Calabria, county leaders and economic development officials have discussed what an economic inventive package might look like, but those conversations have happened in closed session, which means he’s not allowed to talk about them. The county does have a standard economic inventive package and a headquarters provision that could unlock more dollars for Amazon, but it’s unclear right now what else local governments might pitch in.

“We’re going to look at this with open eyes,” Calabria says. “The nice thing about Wake County is that we don’t have to rely on incentive packages, though I expect that to be part of the mix.”

Raleigh’s biggest draw, he says, is its highly skilled, highly educated workforce, which is a key driver in luring companies to the region.

In September, after Amazon announced its RFP process, The New York Times’s Upshot blog predicted that the Triangle’s underdeveloped mass transit system would be its undoing in its bid for the $5 billion project. That story labeled Denver the frontrunner.

From an Amazon press release:

“Thank you to all 238 communities that submitted proposals. Getting from 238 to 20 was very tough–all the proposals showed tremendous enthusiasm and creativity,” said Holly Sullivan, Amazon Public Policy. “Through this process we learned about many new communities across North America that we will consider as locations for future infrastructure investment and job creation.”

Amazon evaluated each of the proposals based on the criteria outlined in the RFP to create the list of 20 HQ2 candidates that will continue in the selection process. In the coming months, Amazon will work with each of the candidate locations to dive deeper into their proposals, request additional information, and evaluate the feasibility of a future partnership that can accommodate the company’s hiring plans as well as benefit its employees and the local community. Amazon expects to make a decision in 2018.
“It’s a formidable list of competitors,” says Wake County Commissioner John Burns in a text message. “We believe Wake County is a great place to do business and a fantastic place to live, work, and play. It’s good to see that Amazon agrees. Now we will have to see what happens next.”

In a statement, Raleigh Mayor Nancy McFarlane says the city “is excited and honored to be included among the finalists for Amazon HQ2. Raleigh is a thriving community that would be attractive for any business, large or small. We are proud of the investments and partnerships we’ve made that enhance our many attributes, such as our world-class university system, well-trained workforce, diverse economy, strong infrastructure, and emerging entrepreneurial spirit. Raleigh’s commitment to the arts, public parks, and other core services has created an exceptional quality of life for all to enjoy. We look forward to sharing Raleigh’s unique story with Amazon in the near future and learning about next steps.”

The INDY will update this story as we learn more.

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