RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK – North Carolina isn’t ready to write off its chances of landing an expansion project from Apple even though the tech giant didn’t include the state in a series of economic expansion moves announced Thursday.

“Absolutely,” an elected official told WRAL TechWire on Friday when asked if a much expected Apple campus project for the Triangle was still a possibility.

“As far as we are concerned, this is an ongoing project.”

The official who is well briefed on negotiations about the project pointed out:

“We will still pursue this [Apple] project until we hear otherwise.”

He added that those involved in the project will “regroup and figure out what happened.”

After Apple’s decision the big question for NC: ‘Why can’t we land the big one?’

A non-government source added that North Carolina needs to be patient about the possibility of landing a future Apple project.

Meanwhile a source in the economic development community said Apple could be using the Thursday announcement as an attempt to leverage North Carolina to offering a better package of incentives, such as taxes and land.

Apple noted in the press announcement that more expansion could happen. Also, the investments announced Thursday represent a small fraction of what Apple CEO Tim Cook has said the company would make in the United States.

Citing a nondisclosure agreement, some people involved in the negotiations with Apple declined comment Thursday when the news broke and again on Friday.

Apple’s ‘monumental deal’ goes against Triangle – for now

Apple’s announcement that it would build a $1 billion campus and add several thousand jobs near its already existing campus in Austin, Texas, stunned North Carolina officials. Several told WRAL reporters Travis Fain, Laura Leslie and Cullen Browder on Thursday that the Apple news came with no warning.

The project, which sounds a great deal like the one discussed for RTP in terms of size and investment total, was one many NC officials assumed they were going to land.

Also irking some officials was the fact Apple announced expansions in several other cities, but nothing for North Carolina.

“I don’t understand why we weren’t one of those {cities],” the local official said.

Asked to comment about any changes in the Apple project and the comments made to WRAL TechWire about continuing pursuit of the project, David Rhoades, spokesman for the state Department of Commerce, referred to a statement from Gov. Roy Cooper on Thursday.

Cooper and GOP legislative leaders issued a joint statement.

Cooper, House Speaker Tim Moore and Senate President Pro Tem Phil Berger praised North Carolina’s qualities and other corporate recruitment efforts, but giving no information on why Apple went another way, reported WRAL’s Fain.

“We’re on pace to add thousands of good-paying jobs this year with more expected next year,” they said. “There’s no better place to find a top-tier IT workforce and legislative leaders have worked closely with the administration to attract large employers and technology companies like Apple. We’ll keep doing everything we can to bring more good jobs to North Carolina.”

Apple to build campus in Texas; NC not on expansion list

After having lost out on a new Army headquarters, the Amazon HQ project, and – for now – expansion from Apple, state officials remain extremely reluctant to discuss what has happened and reasons why.

“To me and my sources, [Apple] went totally dark weeks ago. So bizarre!,” another private sector  sourcewho has closely tracked the Apple told TechWire.

“And after all the chatter, it’s irritating that officials will not provide more clarity.  … Knowing the story might really help figure out our economic development strategies, right?”