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Dear Amazon, come to Raleigh for the tech and the good schools. Stay for our arts and culture.

Bluegrass Festival 2017: Raleigh’s streets and venues filled with record crowds and fabulous music

Drone footage and highlights from Raleigh’s Wide Open Bluegrass festival featuring clawhammer guitar by Molly Tuttle Saturday, September 30, 2017.
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Drone footage and highlights from Raleigh’s Wide Open Bluegrass festival featuring clawhammer guitar by Molly Tuttle Saturday, September 30, 2017.

Dear Amazon,

Thanks for making Raleigh one of your 20 finalists for your big relocation. Folks here are pretty excited about that, especially since we made the cut over Charlotte, although we promise not to gloat (at least not too much).

Anyway, we know you’re looking for quality-of-life infrastructure like technology companies (ahem – RTP! Red Hat!) and good public schools. And yeah, we’ve got that plus big-time college and professional sports, beautiful scenery from mountains to coast and a cost of living still far below the country’s biggest cities.

But something else that really sets us apart is a thriving arts and cultural scene you might be surprised to find in a city this size. It’s been said that we punch above our weight and we’d like to think we do.

Did we mention our restaurants and James Beard Award-winning chefs? (Yep, we’ve got those, too).

Let us count the ways.

1. First Friday Art Walks are common, and we’ve got those here every month. What isn’t so common, however, is that they draw big enough crowds that the city will often close streets to car traffic to accommodate all the pedestrians spilling out from the sidewalks.

2. The greater Triangle, of which Raleigh is a part, has a top-notch music scene with nationally acclaimed local acts, including Americana act Iron & Wine, electronic duo Sylvan Esso and the rapper Rapsody – all of whom recently picked up Grammy Award nominations.

You’ve probably read about Mipso, Hiss Golden Messenger, Sarah Shook and other acts from here in national publications like Rolling Stone, too.

DPAC update
Durham Performing Arts Center is one of America’s top-drawing theater-sized venues – No. 5 in the country last year – with an array of concerts and Broadway events. Ken A. Huth

3. We have the requisite large-capacity venues like the indoor PNC Arena and outdoor Coastal Credit Union Park at Walnut Creek Amphitheatre and Red Hat Amphitheater, plus large venues like the Durham Performing Arts Center and the Duke Energy Center for the Performing Arts. DPAC, by the way, is one of America’s top-drawing theater-sized venues – No. 5 in the country last year – with an array of concerts and Broadway events.

To answer your next question, yes, “Hamilton” is coming. It’s already a tough ticket, but maybe you’ll have the clout to score seats.

4. We have incredible festivals here, too. We’ve got the Hopscotch Music Festival, which attracts acts like Solange and Run the Jewels and dozens of other acts. Durham next door has the eclectic Art of Cool, electronic-music Moogfest and American Dance Festival, and one of the highlights every fall is the International Bluegrass Music Association’s World of Bluegrass – which brings upward of 200,000 people to downtown Raleigh and turns us into Nashville East for a weekend. It’s one of the biggest festivals around.

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The North Carolina Museum of Art is one of the best such facilities in the entire Southeast, with a globally acclaimed Rodin collection plus an excellent concert series to boot. Juli Leonard jleonard@newsobserver.com

5. The North Carolina Museum of Art is one of the best such facilities in the entire Southeast, with a globally acclaimed Rodin collection plus an excellent concert series to boot. It’s just one of the many fine museums around here, including NC State’s Gregg Museum of Art and Design, Duke University’s Nasher Museum of Art and the Ackland Art Museum at UNC-Chapel Hill.

Did we mention that there are a lot of universities here, too?

6. You want parks, we’ve got parks, many of them at the aforementioned universities and museums, along with Raleigh’s Pullen Park, perfect for all the young families your jobs will bring us. An even better one is on the way, Dorothea Dix Park, a 306-acre tract that is under development to become Raleigh’s Central Park.

7. Countless national publications have come through Raleigh, Durham and Chapel Hill to dine, and they’ve not left hungry. Ashley Christensen, who owns several restaurants in downtown Raleigh, continues to make headlines for her food and her activism. (She shared the title of Tar Heel of the Year with chef Vivian Howard, whose food in Kinston isn’t too far, either.) And Brewery Bhavana was named by Bon Appetit as one of the 10 best new restaurants in the country, thanks to its unique concept of dim sum, brewery, bookstore and flower shop. (Trust us, it works.)

We could go on.

Why would you want to go anywhere else? And why wouldn’t you want to bring your 50,000 jobs here?

Best regards,

The Residents of the Triangle

David Menconi: 919-829-4759, @NCDavidMenconi

The Research Triangle Regional Partnership, which is an association of economic developers, hopes this video they produced promoting life in the Triangle will help woo Amazon to the area.

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