Media Moves

Coverage: Amazon picks 20 finalists for second HQ

January 19, 2018

Posted by Chris Roush

amazon-corporate-logoAmazon on Thursday narrowed the field in its search for a second headquarters city, plucking 20 finalists from the 238 proposals the retail giant received in October.

Matt Day of the Seattle Times has the story:

The list includes several cities widely seen as favorites — Atlanta; Austin, Texas; and Boston — as well as dark-horse candidates Columbus, Ohio; Indianapolis; and Nashville.

The company has said it plans to make a final decision on what it calls HQ2 sometime this year and could occupy the first portion of a new campus as soon as next year.

Amazon surprised the world, and its Seattle hometown, in September when it announced it was looking for a second headquarters city somewhere in North America, which CEO Jeff Bezos said would be a “full equal” to its massive existing campus. The online retail giant said it could spend $5 billion, and hire as many as 50,000 employees, at the campus over an up-to-17-year build out.

Many observers viewed Amazon’s search as a sign that the company’s ambitions had outgrown Seattle, and that it would most likely seek a different labor force outside the Pacific Northwest. A handful of municipalities in the area — including Tacoma, Spokane, Portland and a consortium of King and Snohomish County cities —raised their hands anyway. None made it through the first round of cuts.

Eli Blumenthal of USA Today writes that Toronto should not be counted out:

Toronto has several enticing qualities that have likely kept Amazon’s interest.

As the fourth largest city in North America, with 7.8 million people in its surrounding area, there is obviously a large community ready for Amazon and its 50,000 workers.

According to Mercer, a company the tracks and ranks quality of life in major cities around the world, Toronto also finished well ahead of the other U.S. cities still alive on Amazon’s list.

The ranking, which looks at everything from crime rate and medical services available to the economic environment and education systems in place, put Drake’s hometown at 16, nineteen sports higher than Boston (35) and twenty-eight spots higher than New York (44) in the company’s 2017 rankings.

Dennis Green of Business Insider reports that the DC area seems to have the inside track:

One surprise was the list’s focus on the Washington, DC, region. Three DC metro area locations made the list: DC proper, Northern Virginia, and Montgomery County, Maryland.

Northern Virginia and Montgomery County, which border Washington, DC, are the only proposals under consideration that are not from a major city. It also appears Amazon chose locations with proximity to DC — or ease of traveling there — in mind.

That may indicate Amazon has selected DC as its favorite city for HQ2.

The battle among the three locations is likely to be the fiercest, as they won’t be able to point to the region as a differentiating factor and must throw in their best incentives. No other three locations on the list are as close and have this degree of disadvantage.

There are a few other reasons Amazon may choose DC. It meets all the criteria it set for HQ2 — including those for transportation, education, workforce, and livability. Amazon has its lobbying operation set up in DC, and the company’s job openings in the city suggest the office is already expanding.

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