By Joe Milazzo II, PE
Regional Transportation Alliance
The Research Triangle region is actively engaged in the national competition to win Amazon's new "HQ2," as this new microsite demonstrates.
While no region in North America has a "lock" on winning an economic development opportunity of $5 billion and 50,000 jobs, in reality, Raleigh, Durham, and the entire Research Triangle region have been winning the competition for top jobs for decades.
This week's business news clips provide a great demonstration of our market’s success, and a clue or two as to why.
A Bloomberg article this week noted that Raleigh and Durham were both in the top 7 nationally in the Bloomberg "Brain Concentration Index." This index compares metro areas with at least 100,000 people, and assesses them on several factors, including: concentration of full-time STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) workforce, advanced degrees or science and engineering undergraduate degrees, and net business formation.
Meanwhile, the U.S. Census Bureau, focusing solely on the attainment of bachelor's degrees, noted that both Raleigh-Cary and Durham-Chapel Hill were in the top 5 nationally in college attainment.
Why does our market consistently succeed? The reality is that our strengths continuously reinforce themselves: our educational prowess attracts both people with high degree attainment and jobs that require advanced education.
In addition, you get the best of all worlds here: East Coast location without eastern seaboard hassles, metropolitan amenities and 18-hour city convenience without large urban headaches.
From a mobility standpoint, our market has clearly, and uniquely, hit what I might call the “sweet spot of dispersal and agglomeration.” We are spread out enough to keep severe traffic at bay, but still close enough— and increasingly connected enough—for us to take advantage of our collective strengths.
Those strengths begin with our three tier one research universities, and they grow - and we go - from there.
Do I think we will win Amazon? I think we have a great opportunity. Our region does not need to land HQ2 to be successful—we already are successful, and will continue to be—but an HQ2 investment from Amazon here would make our market even better, faster.
We wish Amazon well, wherever they choose to invest.