CNBC has taken its turn at guessing where the new Amazon headquarters will land.
And the winner is: Raleigh-Durham, Charlotte, Greensboro and High Point. Yes, all of them.
North Carolina submitted four proposals for the second headquarters, which includes those regions and Hickory on its own. (Hickory earned a C- in the survey, while the mouthful of North Carolina cities collectively earned a B, the highest grade.
The business news network came up with the rankings by meshing its 2017 top states for business and census data.
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Yes, CNBC does realize that it’s hedging its bets by predicting half the metropolitan parts of the state will win. It credits an admirable workforce and “a heritage of innovating dating back to the Wright Brothers.”
Working against those cities are the lack of mass transportation and “a nagging lack of inclusiveness” (i.e., the legacy of House Bill 2 prohibiting protections for LGBT people). “North Carolina repealed the most controversial parts of its so-called bathroom bill, but it still lacks statewide protections against discrimination and expressly bars them at the local level,” CNBC says.
A CNBC reporter sat down with Gov. Roy Cooper on Monday to ask about that. Cooper said moving beyond HB2 and his election a year ago demonstrates to the business, sports and entertainment sectors that North Carolina is a welcoming state.
“We’re sending a strong message we’ve taken big step,” Cooper said. “That’s why these companies have come back on my assurances that North Carolina is moving in the right direction.”
The CNBC grades were based on Amazon’s four criteria: A region of more than 1 million people, a stable and friendly business environment, the ability to attract and retain talented workers, and creativity in proposing locations for the project.
North Carolina’s high-scoring regions received an A+ on population, a C+ on stability, C- on talent and B- on location.
Receiving a B- overall are Atlanta, Washington, D.C., and Virginia and Austin/Houston/Dallas and Seattle for some reason (it’s headquarters is already there).
The Economic Development Partnership of N.C., a public-private entity, and the state Department of Commerce have hired an advertising agency to market the state to Amazon. It is part of a broader promotional campaign that the state is spending about $92,000 on for transit ads, digital ads, social media, public relations and T-shirts.
Amazon is promising to spend $5 billion and employ 50,000 people over time.