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Separately, The Washington Post reported on Wednesday that Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam has also floated areas near Washington D.C., like Crystal City and Tysons, as locales for Apple.
Citing unnamed sources in real estate, law and the North Carolina government, the Triangle Business Journal said the Research Triangle Park "tops Apple's short list," although the process is far from finalized — Apple is still looking at sites across the country.
Gov. Roy Cooper is negotiating an incentive package for Apple, which has yet to be presented to the state's General Assembly, the Triangle Business Journal report said. Cooper has touted North Carolina's prospects for big tech bids in the past. Discussions took place over the weekend when Apple CEO Tim Cook visited Duke University to give a commencement address, according to the Journal. (Apple declined to comment.)
The sources told the Triangle Business Journal that Apple was "zeroing in" and that the North Carolina area was a "top contender," citing "a lot more market activity" in the area.
Amazon, which has led a much more high-profile campus search, also has named Raleigh, North Carolina, as a finalist. The area around the nation's capital is also a contender for Amazon's new offices. But, unlike Amazon, Apple has said it "will not hold a bidding process" for the location of its new offices.
There's a long history between Apple and the area of North Carolina which surrounds Duke University, North Carolina State University and The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Cook attended Duke as did Apple software chief Eddy Cue. Apple also has a data center in Maiden, North Carolina, and has invested in clean energy projects there.
Apple announced at the beginning of the year that it planned to invest in a new campus, which "will initially house technical support for customers." The company would certainly have its pick of entry-level talent in the Research Triangle, where more than 50 percent of the population has a bachelor's degree, and there's an annual pool of 8,500 graduates, according to its website. About 250 companies have campuses in the area, including Lenovo, Cisco and IBM (a company where Cook worked before Apple).
The Washington Post describes Apple's exploration of Virginia as "quiet," and cites officials and real estate executives familiar with the discussions. One official told the Post that Apple is more of a "suburban company." Cook has twice been spotted in the D.C. area so far this year, and has met with the president regarding trade and immigration.