RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK, N.C. – The news last week that North Carolina is making an aggressive bid to land a potential $600 million investment from Google served as the perfect cap for an amazingly busy year.

A recap of 2006 includes some pretty impressive headlines, many of which concerned good news.

For example, international contract research organization Quintiles Transnational decided to not only stay in North Carolina but to expand and create 2,000 new jobs. Earlier, the company announced plans to open a new datacenter in northeastern N.C.

Fidelity, meanwhile, picked the Triangle for a new regional operation, creating hundreds of new jobs while at the same time scooping up one of the last big, open tracks in Research Triangle Park.

Lenovo is going to build its new international headquarters in Morrisville, N.C.

Novartis, meanwhile, picked Holly Springs for a new vaccine plant.

And Merck is going to invest $100 million to expand its plant in Durham.

United Therapeutics and Stieffel Laboratories also picked RTP for new facilities.

Billionaire David Murdock, meanwhile, has moved the North Carolina Research Campus project in Kannapolis into high gear.

Two major mergers certainly have affected our region.

Cisco’s takeover of Scientific Atlanta and the formation of a strategy by Chief Executive Officer John Chambers to deliver all forms of content over a Cisco-owned hardware infrastructure from the network core to wireless networks in homes and on-demand set-top boxes on TVs has triggered a huge boost in Cisco’s stock price.

On Friday, AT&T closed on its $86 billion acquisition of BellSouth. Which serves most of the Carolinas and Georgia. Among concessions AT&T made to the Federal Communications Commission to win approval for the deal is a promise to extend broadband coverage availability to all residents in BellSouth coverage area. The pledge includes a mix of digital subscriber line and satellite offerings.

The telecommunication merger wave led to the launch of Embarq as a replacement for Sprint. The Carolinas represent one of Embarq’s largest markets.

And by the end of the year wireless broadband provider ClearWire entered the Triangle market while Cingular, Verizon, Sprint and Alltel beefed up their own wireless data offerings. Talk about choice!

What an up-and-down year for Red Hat. A spat with Oracle after the acquisition of Atlanta-based software provider JBoss led to Oracle’s entry into the Linux marketplace and a drop in Red Hat stock. Then Novell and Microsoft partnered on Linux, creating another potential Red Hat nightmare. But by year’s end the stock had rallied as Red Hat moved to the New York Stock Exchange from the NASDAQ and fears about Oracle as well as Novell-Microsoft appeared to have been over-hyped.

Pozen Pharmaceuticals, meanwhile, saw its stock sink, rally, sink and rally in its continuing efforts to win Food and Drug Administration approval for its new migraine drug being developed in conjunction with GlaxoSmithKline.

Targacept, meanwhile, finally executed a delayed initial public offering in the spring and then ended the year with good news about a proposed Alzheimer’s drug.

A year of transition at Nortel under new leadership led to a reverse 10-for-1 stock split, sale of a subsidiary, and restructuring that has the telecommunications gear maker now looking to grow, not just survive.

Cree, meanwhile, launched a new facility in RTP and proceeded with plans to add workers.

Wow, what a year – and that’s just discussing public companies – or ones that hope to be, such as Clearwire, or used to be (Quintiles). We’ll take a look back at the entrepreneurial front on Wednesday.