Amazon officials are visiting all 20 sites that are competing to land the company’s second headquarters, touring three of them in the D.C. area last week but apparently not swinging by North Carolina while they were in the neighborhood.
The Triangle is among the finalists and is the only North Carolina region to make the first cut. Triangle officials who commented this week said they have heard nothing about meeting Amazon representatives.
On Tuesday, The Dallas Morning News reported that Amazon officials visited Dallas in February, citing unidentified sources. The Amazon visitors appeared impressed by potential locations in downtown Dallas, the Morning News reported.
The Washington Post reported that Amazon representatives visited northern Virginia, Washington and Montgomery County in Maryland, citing named and unnamed sources, over the course of the week.
One of the named sources was Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam, who said he had breakfast with Amazon officials in northern Virginia, and that his economic development staff went on the tour. D.C. Mayor Muriel E. Bowser had dinner with company representatives, the Post reported.
“We’ve had some really good discussions with Amazon,” the Post reported Northam saying. “... I think that Amazon was impressed with the presentation we gave them.”
Northam said Virginia emphasized workforce, inclusivity, transportation and quality of life in its application to Amazon. He wouldn’t say what kind of financial incentives Virginia was offering for the $5 billion project which comes with the promise of an eventual 50,000 highly paid employees.
Few states, including North Carolina, have disclosed details of their proposals. Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan in an exception; he says his state is willing to offer $5 billion in financial incentives to lure the online retail giant.
No visits yet
Their North Carolina counterparts were less talkative than their neighbors to the north, or didn’t have any updates to share.
Raleigh Mayor Nancy McFarlane said she hasn’t had any meetings with Amazon officials.
Tom Bonfield, Durham’s city manager, said in an email, “The City has not received any updated information on any further contact with Amazon and the regional submittal.”
Geoff Durham, president of the Durham Chamber of Commerce, said he couldn’t comment on discussions because of the “highly competitive nature of this project.” A spokesman for North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper also declined to comment because it was an active economic development project. Officials with the Research Triangle Regional Partnership and Wake County Economic Development could not be reached for comment.
There are at least nine sites Amazon could go in the D.C. area, according to the Post. It is also the only region with three separate applications under consideration.
In response to The Washington Post’s story, Amazon issued a statement saying the focus wasn’t just on D.C.
“Amazon is working with each HQ2 candidate city to dive deeper on their proposals and share additional information about the company’s plans,” the statement reads. “We’re excited to visit each location and talk about how HQ2 could benefit our employees and the local community.”
An Amazon spokesman told The N&O on Tuesday he could provide no additional information on a potential visit to the Triangle.
The Triangle came up with several locations for Amazon to consider. Economic development officials have not disclosed where those sites are, because the information is considered to be part of confidential negotiations.
It is known, however, that at least two of the proposed sites are in Research Triangle Park, the 7,000 acres between Raleigh and Durham. One is in Chatham County and another in downtown Raleigh. A site once considered in Orange County, next to a potential light rail stop near I-40 and U.S. 15-501, was ultimately rejected because it wasn’t controlled by a single entity or person, Dwight Bassett, economic development officer for the Town of Chapel Hill, said Tuesday.
On Sunday, the Research Triangle Park Foundation, which manages RTP, posted a video on Facebook pitching the area’s diversity and inclusion. The video was made to appeal to a broad range of businesses but the foundation hopes Amazon sees it, said spokesman Michael Pittman.
“Diversity and inclusion is a big focus for the Foundation right now, as we have been working to make RTP more diverse, we’ve come across some partners and organizations in the region who are doing some good work in this area,” Pittman wrote in an email Tuesday. “So we felt it was a good time to make a video to highlight these efforts and the diverse, growing talent in the Triangle.”
The video includes a shot of a unisex bathroom sign with the message, “We don’t care.” It emphasizes the area’s women and minority-owned start-ups, tech hubs and STEM groups for women.
Amazon’s initial invitation for states to submit proposals stressed that the project requires “a compatible cultural and community environment,” which includes a diverse population and excellent universities.
Staff writer Anna Johnson contributed.