Wake County says it will ‘aggressively pursue’ Amazon’s HQ2

Indian employees work inside Amazon's largest Fulfillment Centre in India in September.
Indian employees work inside Amazon's largest Fulfillment Centre in India in September. AFP/Getty Images

Wake County economic developers are working on regional efforts to win Amazon’s nationwide search for a second headquarters.

Michael Haley, director of Wake County Economic Development, said Wednesday the agency plans to “aggressively pursue this opportunity,” and is working with regional colleagues on a proposal.

Amazon announced a week ago that it was soliciting proposals from across the country for the project, which brings with it $5 billion in spending and 50,000 jobs over the next 20 years. Immediately, cities across the country announced they were in the game.

“We are very exciting about this opportunity,” Haley said in an email. “Amazon’s HQ2 represents a transformational moment for any community.

“We feel that our region’s strengths of an incredibly talented and highly educated workforce, diverse and innovative economy, including a robust/dynamic start-up scene, our globally recognized higher education system, amazing quality of life, and continued demographic growth align very well with Amazon’s needs.”

Haley did not say who the county agency has been working with. Calls to Raleigh’s economic development office – which pledged $1 million in incentives to the successful effort to land the technology giant InfoSys – were referred to Haley.

The Durham Herald-Sun reported last week that the Research Triangle Foundation, which manages Research Triangle Park, was meeting with regional partners to pursue a proposal. Michael Pittman, vice president of marketing and communications at the foundation, said it was a top priority.

Amazon currently ships packages out from a 325,000-square-foot warehouse in Research Triangle Park.

Charlotte’s Regional Partnership and the Charlotte Chamber have also indicated they will “aggressively pursue” the Amazon project.

The state Department of Commerce issued a general statement last week saying it always gets involved in projects like this.

“We relentlessly pursue every opportunity to bring new jobs to the state, and every day we respond to requests for proposals – from those big transformative projects that grab headlines to the many projects you don’t hear about beforehand,” Commerce Secretary Anthony Copeland said in the statement.

A commerce spokeswoman said Monday that there is nothing to add to that statement at this time.

Amazon says it is looking for a metropolitan area with more than 1 million people in it. Raleigh’s metropolitan statistical area is 1.2 million. In Mecklenburg and surrounding counties, it is 2.5 million.

The company is also looking for a “stable and business-friendly environment,” strong presence of technical talent, and “communities that think big and creatively when considering locations and real estate options.” It also wants incentives.

An analysis by the New York Times’ Upshot website ranked Raleigh higher than Charlotte when it comes to quality of life; but Raleigh didn’t make the final cut because of its anemic public transportation system.

Amazon has set a deadline of Oct. 19.

Craig Jarvis: 919-829-4576, @CraigJ_NandO

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