Congratulations to Raleigh for making the list of 20 finalists for Amazon’s HQ2!

Raleigh has made Amazon’s short-list for its 50,000-job HQ2. And Commerce Secretary Tony Copeland is already working on a plan.

The competition is fierce. Multiple metros around Washington, D.C., are included on the 20-site list, as is New Jersey, which has reportedly offered a $7 billion incentives package. But Copeland continues to believe that North Carolina has a major shot.

Raleigh is the only North Carolina metro to make the cut. The Triad, Charlotte and Hickory metros all submitted proposals to help lure HQ2.

“We’re going to see what the next phase of contact is with the company, what further guidance will there be for the company,” Copeland says. “Absent that, we’ll pursue in a similar trajectory as we did, and immediately prepare for the second round,” he says.

Being among the top 20 is validating for the Triangle, he says. He points to the presence of the universities and Wake Technical Community College as a likely differentiator.

But there are challenges. While the Triangle proposal offered up multiple site possibilities, including Raleigh’s Warehouse District and Chatham Park, real estate developers have said accommodating such a massive project will likely require creativity.

But creativity is yet another advantage for the Triangle’s chances. Copeland points to the education-fueled innovation economy and the presence of other tech giants.

“We’ve collaborated together as a region on economic development projects for a very long time and Amazon was another good example of those partners coming together to put our best foot forward,” she says. “How we move forward through the next steps and what our response as a region is will be driven largely by the feedback we get from the company. … We’ll really be responsive to what the company is saying they need to understand so that they can continue to sort of fine tune and hone in on Raleigh.”

Copeland and Cole aren’t alone in thinking the state has a good chance at Amazon. Last year, the “graphs guy” at SAS Institute, Robert Allison, a development tester with the analytics firm, compiled datasets used for multiple reports on the site search, such as the one from CNBC, which ranked North Carolina as the HQ2 favorite. Just looking at the data, North Carolina’s chances could be “pretty good,” he says, highlighting its location and time zone, which would give Amazon “a great head start.”

“North Carolina scored high in all areas,” he says.

While CNBC ranked Nashville, Tennessee – which also made the shortlist – second, a closer look at the data shows that, when it came to just talent, they had a failing grade, he notes.

“It’s just the way you approach the data,” he says.

And it’s just one of the projects the state is eyeing. On Wednesday, Copeland said the state is hoping to get interest from Apple, which has said it’s looking for new sites in the United States.


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