Ranking Amazon's Short List of 20 Finalists for HQ2 Location
By John Cook @ Geek Wire
January 29, 2018

I’m not a professional oddsmaker, but Amazon’s announcement today that it has chosen 20 cities — yes, 20! — to proceed to the next round of its lucrative second headquarters got me thinking: Who really has the best shot at landing this potential $5 billion economic prize?

Key Takeaways

  • The area surrounding Washington D.C. has three top contenders
  • More than half of the top 20 cities are on the East Coast
  • Austin and Dallas are both top contenders with no-income-tax in Texas

Here’s Geek Wire’s ranking of the top 20. Note: No computer algorithms were used to create this ranking, just the human brain. These are ranked from least likely to top favorite.

20) Los Angeles – Traffic and the tax structure sucks, and while Amazon is growing its presence in the movie and entertainment business in a big way, I just don’t think you’ll see HQ2 in Hollywood.

19) Columbus – My home state will roll out massive tax breaks and old-fashioned Midwestern charm, but that’s not enough to win this prize.

18) Indianapolis – Like Columbus, just a bit more bland.

17) Denver – Amazon wants diversity in geography, so it can recruit top minds from the East Coast. Denver is too similar to Seattle.

16) Miami – I don’t even see a “Buff Bezos” hanging on the sands of South Beach. Known more for Pina Coladas than coders.

15) Nashville – Music City U.S.A. is too far out of the way, and not a destination for engineering talent, which is really the lifeblood of Amazon’s decision.

14) Chicago – This Midwestern paradise lost me when they formed a 600-person committee to lure Amazon. Too much process, and politics. Central location and big airports help, as does a nice elevated train network. But it’s hundreds of miles from any outdoor escapes.

13) Newark – Springsteen, Sinatra and Bon Jovi will not be able to serenade HQ2. I’ve been to New Jersey, I have friends from New Jersey, Mr. Amazon, you are not New Jersey.

12) New York – The Big Apple is, well, just too big (and expensive). I’ve never understood New York’s allure as a tech hub.

11) Toronto – Once my top pick for Amazon HQ2, this Canadian jewel of a city on the banks of Lake Ontario has tech talent, a welcoming immigration stance, friendly folks and a new alliance with Google’s Alphabet. That sealed Toronto’s fate.

10) Raleigh – There are direct flights between Seattle and Raleigh, but I just wonder if it’s just too small, too low profile. North Carolina’s stance on the controversial “Bathroom Bill” does not help matters.

9) Atlanta – Georgia Tech certainly helps, as does a mild climate. Certainly, a transportation hub, but for whatever reason I just don’t think HQ2 is in the cards for Hotlanta.

8) Dallas – There are enough engineers in Texas that Amazon could probably fulfill its desired 50,000 employee count just from this massive land mass. Plus, the Lone Star state’s independent and rebel streak will appeal to Bezos, who also owns tons of property in West Texas.

7) Philadelphia – Centrally located between Boston and D.C., without the cost or attitude of its East Coast neighbors, the City of Brotherly Love will lovingly welcome these 50,000 jobs to one of its many redevelopment projects, including a former Navy Yard. Undergoing a Rocky Balboa-style comeback, Philly’s rebirth is real, and they’ve got a desire to play in the big leagues.

6) Pittsburgh – If it’s good enough for GeekWire HQ2, it’s good enough for Amazon! Undergoing a serious rebirth with tons of expertise in AI and robotics, an especially compelling area of technology.

5) Boston – It’s hard to argue with Beantown’s many assets: Engineering talent, top research universities and a desire to reclaim some of its tech mojo from the 1970s and 1980s. There’s a reason why Amazon is already investing in a huge way in Boston.

4) Austin – A progressive city in a no-income tax state, with tons of engineering talent flowing from the University of Texas and some older tech companies that Amazon can decimate upon its arrival. And, just in case you forgot: Amazon spent a cool $13.7 billion consuming Austin-based Whole Foods.

3, 2, 1) Washington D.C., Montgomery County and Northern Virginia – The greater D.C. area did not make my original short list, but it does now. It meets many of Amazon’s requirements: transportation hub, outdoor activities, culture, tech talent base, etc. (Traffic does suck, though). It’s curious that Amazon separated three nearby communities (all within a 50-mile radius) in the list, perhaps signaling a competitive bake off between the three. Bezos owns The Washington Post, and he just bought a $23 million home in D.C., yet another sign of the tech mogul planting serious roots in the nation’s capital.

View the original article at Geek Wire