Editor’s note: Two and a half years ago, in one of the first ever columns Joe Procopio wrote for a fledgling ExitEvent, he posed the public question: Raleigh, What Are You? Entrepreneurs and leaders answered that question in 2014. WRAL TechWire Insiders get the exclusive story from Joe Procopio.

DURHAM, N.C. - Two and a half years ago, in one of the first ever columns I wrote for a fledgling ExitEvent, I posed the public question:

Raleigh, What Are You?

In it, I mused that maybe Raleigh wasn’t the kind of place that needed a bunch of seed-level startups sprouting up everywhere in order to start acting like a startup hub. The column wasn’t borne out of frustration, just a sort of devil’s advocacy brought on by hearing way too many comparisons of Raleigh to Durham’s still-nascent but rapidly evolving startup scene.

Maybe, I wrote, maybe Raleigh’s startup ecosystem was more tied to the corporations that had defined the city’s business identity for years. Why was Raleigh trying to be Durham when Raleigh just needed to be Raleigh?

Last week, it was announced that Citirx’s Raleigh Headquarters, the building in downtown Raleigh that serves as part of the startup epicenter there, and where Citrix has a healthy 15-year lease, just sold for a Triangle record $68.5 million.

At the time I wrote that column, May 2012, I had been at Automated Insights in Durham for almost two years and had been growing ExitEvent for a full year. So I was a part of a new and never-before-seen collaboration of startups exploding in Durham. I also happened to be documenting it as it unfolded.

Everyone was involved, from local government to real estate to the Durham Chamber to a number of dedicated entrepreneurs and a few investors leading the charge.

I wasn’t seeing this in Raleigh. I was seeing the same thing I had been seeing for the last dozen or so years (I lived inside the beltline from 1988 to 1999). Startups were being tacitly included in conversations about small business as said small businesses related to big business, which is what Raleigh was built on.

I knew a bunch of entrepreneurs in Raleigh, but they didn’t know each other, which means they weren’t collaborating or helping each other.

That column ended up sparking quite a reaction. Through the Twitter and the Internets, I suddenly found myself invited to meet with a number of Raleigh officials, from Councilwoman Mary Ann Baldwin to members of Wake County Economic Development, the Raleigh Chamber, and others who were trying to answer the question I had just asked.

When that meeting was over, I finally got the sense that something cohesive was possible in Raleigh. And I wrote about it in a column called Why Raleigh Must Have a Startup Hub. And in it I talked about how big companies like Red Hat and Citrix (who had just acquired Jess Lipson’s local startup Sharefile) didn’t have to anchor it, but they should be a part of it.

Less than two years later, ExitEvent hosted a February, 2014 Social that served as the launch of American Underground at Raleigh. That event (for me anyway) kicked off a year that saw Raleigh catch up to Durham in terms of startup activity and potential, and do so with Red Hat, Citrix, and even Google playing a big part.

A month later, Raleigh’s startup hub, HQ Raleigh, which had originally grown out of Brooks Bell, expanded and moved to its own presence in the warehouse district downtown. Together, Brooks and her husband Jess were now playing a major part in building this new epicenter. And entrepreneurs were taking notice.

I think of HQ tenant WedPics as the ultimate Raleigh startup. I’d been writing about my friend Justin Miller since he co-founded dejaMi out of his home in North Raleigh, through the period when the city shut him down due to zoning violations, which triggered his move to HQ, up until this month when they raised $4.25 million.

They’re pretty much grown up now.

But Raleigh startups are making an impact on the local accelerators and grants programs as well. EmployUs and Upswing, as a matter of fact, were two of the winners in the most recent NC IDEA grant cycle.

And this week, K4Connect, the startup that F. Scott Moody of Authentec and iPhone 5s fame came back to Raleigh to start, announced that they will release their Internet-of-Things-based product K4Life in early 2015.

The reason you know this is working is because nothing stands still in Raleigh anymore. It’s no longer a bunch of people getting together to toss around a bunch of ideas. HQ Raleigh launched Thinkhouse this year and hosted the first Triangle Startup Weekend Women soon after that.

Citrix’s opened their (recently sold) office in September, the same month they launched the Citrix Accelerator, whose first round of graduates demoed in December.

About a year ago we all started talking about how we needed to start working as the Triangle Startup Region. No more Raleigh, more Durham, no more Chapel Hill, but collaboration across the three major metros. That collaboration is beginning to pay off, and not just for quickly-caught-up Raleigh but also for ever-expanding Durham and even ivy-covered Chapel Hill.

But keep your eye on Raleigh. It’s got the infrastructure and the population to boost the Triangle’s national reputation as a startup hub. And now it’s got a pretty good start underway as well.

Editor’s note: Joe Procopio is a serial entrepreneur, writer, and speaker. He is VP of Product at Automated Insights and the founder of startup network and news resource ExitEvent. Follow him at @jproco or read him at http://joeprocopio.com