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Pittsburgh finalist for Seattle-based tech website GeekWire’s temporary HQ2

December 1, 2017

It’s not for Amazon’s HQ2, but Pittsburgh is on the shortlist for the second headquarters of another Seattle-based tech company.

GeekWire, a tech journalism website covering Amazon, Microsoft and more in the tech scene of the Pacific Northwest, named Pittsburgh one of four finalists for its second headquarters.

GeekWire HQ2 won’t bring tens of thousands of jobs and billions in infrastructure, but it didn’t ask for boatloads of tax breaks and incentives, either. Instead of potentially throwing housing and public transit systems into turmoil, a group of GeekWire reporters will set up shop in the city for the entire month of February and cover its tech scene.

The four finalists are Pittsburgh, Cincinnati, Denver and Raleigh, N.C.

Carnegie Mellon University’s School of Computer Science submitted a bid on behalf of Pittsburgh. It touted the city’s renaissance as a tech hub; its offices of Google, Amazon, Uber, Microsoft, Facebook and more; and the fleets of autonomous vehicles on city streets.

GeekWire said it thinks Pittsburgh has a good shot at Amazon’s HQ2, and that played into its decision to name it as a finalist. But Pittsburgh’s weather concerned GeekWire.

“We also wondered if weather wimp staffers will be able survive a sub-zero winter day in Pittsburgh,” the site wrote, noting the average low temperature in February is “a bone-chilling” 22 degrees.

“The weather’s not even that bad anymore,” said Jackie Erickson, a founding member of the Pittsburgh Robotic Network and a public and government affairs consultant for several Pittsburgh robotics companies.

Erickson said Pittsburgh is rife with stories of cool tech with big impacts.

“You never know which autonomous car company you’re going to drive by,” Erickson said.

Uber, Aurora Innovations, Argo AI and Delphi and other companies are testing self-driving cars in the city. Erickson said the city’s robotics companies are working on robots to save the lives of soldiers, work alongside doctors in operating rooms and perform jobs that no one wants to do in warehouses. Those companies, Erickson said, are eager to share their work with reporters.

“You have your pick of awesome stories,” Erickson said. “If you really want to get into the chops of tech, you need to go to the place where it’s actually happening and where it happened first.”

GeekWire is asking readers to vote for their favorite among the finalists. The site will announce the winner in December.

Aaron Aupperlee is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at aaupperlee@tribweb.com, 412-336-8448 or via Twitter @tinynotebook.