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The Daily Tar Heel

Amazon includes Raleigh as finalist to host new HQ


Tech-giant Amazon announced Thursday a list of 20 metropolitan areas – including Raleigh – that had been narrowed down from 238 proposals to host HQ2, the company's second headquarters in North America.

“Amazon expects to create 50,000 high-paying jobs and invest over $5 billion in the city where it opens HQ2, a full equal to its Seattle HQ,” the company announced in a press release.

Chancellor Carol Folt said in a recent interview that she believed the presence of the universities in the area were very attractive to Amazon.

“There’s this incredible record of one of the first places in the country where there was a recognition that universities and industry together can create something pretty magical in an economic boom for a region as (Research Triangle Park),” she said.

Folt said the region’s universities have certain aspects that appealed to both the economic and social appeals of Amazon’s competition.

“We’ve got a lot of diversity in our universities, even outside the region,” she said. “That means that if you’re trying to build a workforce for the future, you have a chance to dig into a very good cross-section. Things like our being able to keep our universities inexpensive – all of them compared to everybody else – and really high graduation rates. Those are very attractive to a company that’s coming with 50,000 employees who want to have their families live here. So we’re a part of that draw.”

Amazon’s establishing the headquarters in Raleigh could lead to a sizable infrastructure project given the company’s past footprint, and only the largest cities will easily handle the headquarters, BuildZoom, a home renovation site studying housing and construction markets, found in a November 2017 study.

“Amazon will likely build new office buildings, as it did in Seattle, but will likely also snap up significant square footage in existing office spaces, especially in its earlier stages of growth,” the study said. “Amazon will likely reduce vacancy rates, crowd out other tenants and drive up office rents, especially in the short run. In the longer run, Amazon will expand the office supply and, more generally, help deepen the talent pool.”

In its Request for Proposal in September, Amazon listed several preferences for the site of HQ2, including a metropolitan area with more than one million people – Raleigh’s population is estimated at 459,000 while its metropolitan statistical area is estimated at 1.24 million – and various tax exemptions and credits. 

Gov. Roy Cooper expressed his approval of North Carolina as a potential location in a press release last October as the Research Triangle region and three other North Carolina areas all submitted their proposals.

“North Carolina is the best place for Amazon’s second headquarters,” he said. “This is a great place to live and work and our team has put together a strong pitch that highlights our high quality of life, universities and community colleges and ability to attract and grow a strong workforce.”


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