The Search For Amazon’s Second Headquarters Continues

By Nimra Noor, National News Writer

In September, Amazon announced that it would invest $5 billion in developing its next headquarters in North America. This announcement has led to widespread speculation as to which city will get the chance to host what would be called HQ2.

As the news instigated a gold rush of cities contending to be chosen as the favorite location, increasingly eccentric proposals have been offered to try to entice Amazon. Stonecrest, Georgia, has offered to rename itself Amazon, while Dallas is venturing as far as to synchronize the city’s iconic skyscraper lights with the company’s branding or propose a stadium in its honor.

Such attention-grabbing spectacles as these, however, might not be able to persuade Amazon. In its request for proposals, the company has put forth a variety of criteria and set of requirements for the location of a new headquarters. At the broadest level, Amazon is looking for a metro area with at least one million residents, proximity to an international airport, mass transit, access to higher education and in the form of universities, a well-educated workforce, a business-friendly environment and amenities that give it “the potential to attract and retain strong technical talent.” In view of this, major metro areas like Miami, Boston and New York have been mentioned, along with midsized cities like Raleigh, Pittsburgh and Austin. Most of the guesses for the top contenders seem to focus on the East Coast, according to Forbes. Given that Amazon’s original and current headquarters in located in Seattle, a decision to establish a new base of operations on the East Coast could serve to more effectively direct the company’s activities in the region, while relegating Seattle’s operations to the Western half of the continent.

Earlier in November, economists Mark Zandi and Adam Ozimek of Moody’s took a databased approach to assess which cities meet Amazon’s basic requirements. Based on the five broad categories of business environment, human capital, cost of living, quality of life, and transportation efficiency, they ranked Atlanta, Austin, Toronto, Pittsburgh, and Boston as the best potential matches, in light of Amazon’s stated preferences.   

However, as Amazon has received 238 proposals from cities and municipalities across the continent, analysis and speculations continue to change as the time for the decision nears. The most recent set of rankings of the cities most appealing to Amazon was issued by the Wall Street Journal on November 17. Contrary to previous evaluations, the report places Washington D.C. as a top competitor for HQ2, ranking third on the list, behind Dallas and Boston. Washington D.C. scored high points for its increased number of tech workers, its highly educated population, a good local economy, a diverse population, and high quality of life.

Nonetheless, these rankings cannot be fully relied on as they are subject to change based on time, data collection, and even biasness. For example, New York Times bestows the first place to Denver, while Mile High City concludes to a list similar to the Wall Street Journal and Moody’s rankings: Dallas, Boston, D.C., Atlanta, and Chicago. Clearly, many options are on the table with regard to HQ2.

Whichever metropolitan area the e-commerce giant chooses, each of the 238 cities can envision not only the potential for 50,000 well-paying jobs and a $5 billion investment into the local economy, but also the fact that becoming Amazon’s location for its second headquarters would generate a variety of positive social and economic benefits. Among these would be the huge impact on its tax income, development of infrastructure, improvements in the overall quality of life, and above all, provide a significant boost for the chosen city’s tech industry.

A final decision for the second headquarters, which is set to be equal in scope and importance to Amazon’s current Seattle headquarters, will be made in early 2018. Until then, public and media speculation about the decision is set to intensify.

 

A version of this article appeared in the Tuesday, November 21st print edition.

Contact Nimra at

nimra.noor@student.shu.edu

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