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Analysis / Business

The Top US Cities In The Race For Amazon’s HQ2

Amazon HQ2

Amazon is promising to create 50,000 jobs and pump tens of billions of dollars into the local economy when it builds a second North American HQ. The e-commerce giant received 238 bids from across the continent and it has now whittled its list of potential cities down to 20. Online sports betting sites immediately started offering odds on which area will be chose for Amazon HQ2 and here are the frontrunners:

Northern Virginia

The online retailer, which is the fourth largest company in the history of the world, has been touring Northern Virginia this week in a bid to find an ideal site. HQ2 will be 8 million square feet, making it bigger than the Pentagon, so it is not an easy task. Virginia’s Governor, Ralph Northam, had breakfast with Amazon officials, who were then given tours by economic development staff. The team behind the bid is pitching sites in Alexandria and Arlington, plus the Center for Innovative Technology campus on the border of Fairfax and Loudoun counties. Three of the 20 locations shortlisted by Amazon are in this area – Northern Virginia, Washington D.C. and Montgomery County, Maryland – suggesting the tech firm is seriously keen on setting up shop there. Northam believes Amazon is hugely impressed with its bid and bookmakers have responded by making Northern Virginia the favourite.

Austin, Texas

Austin has long been a tech hub that has attracted some of the brightest minds in the country, and it is also the fastest growing city in the US. That suggests it would make the perfect base for HQ2, and online sports betting sites have made it the second favourite after Northern Virginia. Amazon is based in Seattle, and it has transformed the area in recent years, for better and worse. The city that is able to attract its second HQ, will see housing, transportation and development issues ramped up, bringing a number of challenges along with manifold opportunities. It is therefore imperative that the location is perfect, and several places in central Texas tick a lot of boxes, but none seem perfect.

Boston, Massachusetts

It is understandable that most of the cities in the running are on the other side of the continent from Seattle, and Boston would represent a strong base from which to target the eastern seaboard. There is also a cluster of world-leading colleges, and an already thriving city to tag onto. Amazon is currently in talks to lease an 18-story building in Boston that would house more than 2,000 staff, a figure that could double by 2025. The retailer says this is unrelated to HQ2, but it does illustrate a growing interest in the city.

Atlanta, Georgia

A survey among 100 housing economists conducted by Zillow and Pulsenomics LLC decided that Atlanta and Northern Virginia are the most likely to win the bid. They received 12 votes each, while Austin was next on nine. Considering there are longer odds available on Atlanta than Northern Virginia, that might tempt some people to back Atlanta. However, it is worth noting that the decision of Georgian lawmakers to revoke tax breaks from Delta Air Lines after it ended discounts for NRA members could count against the city.

The Rest

There are several other cities in with a great chance of winning this pitch, and Washington, D.C. heads the list. But Raleigh, North Carolina is also in with a shout, as is Philadelphia and Toronto could be a leftfield choice if it decides to go for a Canadian option. Los Angeles and Miami are considered long shots, while early favourite Nashville has fallen from grace. The other cities bidding for the HQ are Chicago, Denver, Indianapolis, Columbus and Newark. Amazon has not yet announced when a decision will be made, but excitement is ramping up across the continent.

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Christian Harris is editor and publisher of BCW. Christian has over 20 years' publishing experience and in that time has contributed to most major IT magazines and Web sites in the UK. He launched BCW in 2009 as he felt there was a need for honest and personal commentary on a wide range of business computing issues. Christian has a BA (Hons) in Publishing from the London College of Communication.