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Raleigh, North Carolina. (Wikimedia Photo / Mark Turner)

More than 2,000 GeekWire readers told us which of the 20 cities in the running for Amazon’s second headquarters they would live in — and the answer was a surprise.

They weren’t lured by New York City’s flashing lights or Los Angeles’ endless summer. Instead, the most popular choice was Raleigh, N.C., a plucky underdog that isn’t often mentioned as a front-runner in the fierce competition for Amazon HQ2. Even those who didn’t vote for Raleigh still seem to be in a southern state of mind. Atlanta came in second place, followed by Austin.

For the past week, we’ve been asking our readers which of the 20 cities they would choose live in to find out which city has the highest chances of attracting talent, a key consideration for Amazon officials as they deliberate. As of Thursday afternoon, Raleigh took first place with about 11 percent of the votes.

About 29 percent of respondents said they work in business and marketing, while 28 percent are developers and engineers — a specialty of particular interest to Amazon and other tech companies that compete for talent. About 13 percent said they are technology executives of startup founders.

 

Raleigh is not often mentioned as a top contender in the race for Amazon HQ2, the $5 billion, 50,000-person second headquarters the company plans to build in a yet-to-be-named North American city. But Raleigh did score first place in a ranking from ATTOM Data Solutions based mainly on housing costs, taxes, and test scores.

Raleigh already has a robust talent pool thanks to the Research Triangle, a nickname for the hub between Duke University, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and North Carolina State University. But it isn’t clear whether Raleigh has enough allure to convince out-of-town talent to relocate. Our survey suggests Raleigh might have enough appeal but there is a catch. Of the 259 who voted for Raleigh, 71 said they already live in that city.

Still, the most common city of residence in the survey is Amazon’s hometown, Seattle. About 18 percent of participants live in the Emerald City. The rest said they live in cities all over the country.  Most of them happen to be in the running for Amazon HQ2.

The geographic distribution of respondents was roughly consistent GeekWire’s overall audience. We have a large number of readers in Seattle, where we’re based, but our audience overall is national and global. Our top 5 states for readers are currently Washington, California, Texas, New York and Illinois.

The Washington, D.C. area is considered a front-runner, in part because it is the only region with three cities on Amazon’s list. But few survey respondents said they would live in Washington, D.C., Northern Virginia, or Montgomery County.

Over the past few months, Amazon officials have been discreetly visiting each of the 20 cities in the running for its second headquarters. That vetting process is reportedly finished and Amazon says it will announce the winning city this year.

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