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Amazon narrows field, possible Raleigh location revealed

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By JOSEPH PISANI, AP Retail Writer

NEW YORK — Amazon has narrowed its hunt for a second headquarters to 20 locations, concentrated among cities in the U.S. East and Midwest. Raleigh was among the 20 finalists, as was Toronto, keeping the company’s international options open.

The online retailer said Thursday that after sorting through 238 proposals, the potential locations still include other tech-strong places like Boston and New York. Other contenders include Chicago, Indianapolis, and Columbus, Ohio, in the Midwest.

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Los Angeles was the only West Coast city on the list. Both Texas and Pennsylvania had two cities that made the cut: Austin, Dallas, Philadelphia and Pittsburgh. In the South, Raleigh, Miami, Nashville and Atlanta are being considered.

State Secretary of Commerce Anthony M. Copeland pointed to the Triangle’s business climate and "technically sophisticated workforce" as draws for Amazon.

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Raleigh, other US cities vying for Amazon HQ

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"We are excited to learn of Amazon’s continuing interest in North Carolina and the Raleigh area as a location for their HQ2 project. I’m not surprised that Amazon recognizes the many benefits the Research Triangle region offers," he said.

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Raleigh is by far the smallest metro area by population among the finalists, just behind Nashville, U.S. Census figures show.

Mark Williams, president of the Strategic Development Group, a South Carolina firm that frequently works on site location projects in the Southeast, said access to a large workforce will likely be a key deciding factor in the company’s final decision.

"I don’t know how much of this is site search and how much is public relations," Williams said.

Much about Raleigh’s next steps is unclear, including whether Amazon is considering only the City of Oaks or the entire region. The Triangle submitted bids for seven sites for the company’s consideration, but citing concerns about losing a competitive advantage, officials have so far refused to tell the public where they are.

Research Triangle Regional Partnership Executive Director Ryan Combs said there are proposed sites in Wake, Durham and Chatham counties.

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Amazon said it will make a final selection sometime this year.

The company’s announcement last fall that it was looking for a second home launched a fierce competition among cities looking to lure Amazon and its promise of 50,000 new jobs and construction spending of more than $5 billion.

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On the Record: Amazon’s HQ2 could bring 50,000 jobs, $30 billion to the Triangle

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State and local governments played up the amenities they think make their locations the best choice for Amazon’s second headquarters.

Bowknot Womens Winter Mid Ladies Calf Fashion Clode® Autumn Black Snow Chunky Boot Flats Sole Warm for Boots Winter Shoes The company had stipulated that it was seeking to be near a metropolitan area with more than a million people; be able to attract top technical talent; be within 45 minutes of an international airport; have direct access to mass transit; and be able to expand that headquarters to as much as 8 million square feet in the next decade.

But Amazon also made it very clear that it wanted tax breaks, grants and any other incentives.

Some state and local governments have made public the details of the financial incentives they are dangling. New Jersey’s pitch contains $7 billion in tax breaks and Boston’s offer includes $75 million for affordable housing for Amazon employees and others.

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Several say they don’t want their competitors to know what they’re offering, a stance that open-government advocates criticized.

WRAL News submitted records requests for Amazon-related materials to 15 North Carolina agencies, county governments and municipalities earlier this year. Ten of the public agencies denied those requests outright. Only one agency – the City of Durham – released any information directly related to the internal bidding process.

Amazon plans to remain in its sprawling Seattle headquarters and the second home base will be "a full equal" to it, founder and CEO Jeff Bezos had said.

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The finalists in alphabetical order:

Atlanta

Austin

Boston

Chicago

Columbus

Dallas

Denver

Indianapolis

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Miami

Montgomery County, Maryland

Nashville

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New York City

Northern Virginia

Philadelphia

Pittsburgh

Toronto

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