RALEIGH – Michael Haley, head of economic development for Wake County, says news that the U.S. Department of Agriculture might move two organizations and some 700 jobs to the Triangle, could mean the region might win what he calls a “transformational project.”

News emerged late Friday afternoon that the Triangle is one of three finalists for the project.

It’s on a fast-track, too, when the USDA saying it expects to complete the move before the end of 2019.

“We are very excited about this opportunity,” Haley told WRAL TechWire writer Chantal Allam via email.

“We believe Wake County and the entire Research Triangle are well-positioned for this transformational project and have many unique, strategic advantages not found anywhere else in the country.”

The USDA said it wants  what it describes as “new homes” for the USDA Economic Research Service, or ERS, and the National Institute of Food and Agriculture, or NIFA.

Research Triangle Park is listed as the location with RTP, Durham County and Wake County listed as the applicants.

Sites in Indiana and Kansas/Missouri are also under consideration, according to USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue.

Triangle among 3 finalists for relocations of 2 USDA operations, 700 jobs

Exactly what groups other than Wake County Economic Development are involved in the Triangle bid was not disclosed by Haley.

Scott Levitan, CEO of the research Triangle Foundation which oversees the Research Triangle, said he was not aware of the USDA project and could not comment.

Region’s strengths

Haley did stress the advantages he believes the region offers to the USDA.

“We offer a high caliber of talent, concentration of innovation, stable and affordable business climate and vibrant communities, all of which are anchored by our three world-renowned research institutions: NC State, Duke University and the University of North Carolina, along with one of the world’s largest research parks, Research Triangle Park,” Haley explained.

“In addition, our residents – whether they’re transplants or born and raised – have a deep sense of civic pride. People who live here love it.”

Last year, the Triangle lost out on a bid to land a new US Army headquarters as well as Amazon’s HQ2 and a new Apple campus, although a future Apple project remains a possibility.

“We are excited to continue our work with the USDA to demonstrate why our region is a place they can grow, innovate and succeed and why their employees will find a quality of place they would be proud to call their new home,” Haley said.

What if any incentives and perks the region offered to land the USDA moves was not disclosed.