Amazon’s narrowed its HQ2 candidates down to 20 cities

Late last week, Amazon issued an update on its plan to set up a new headquarters (dubbed “HQ2”) in another city. Which city will get the new headquarters has sent the entire country (and Canada) into a frenzy. Various municipalities are trying to encourage Jeff Bezos to set up shop in their town.

Amazon’s announced that they’ve narrowed down the list of possible cities to 20:

  • Atlanta, GA
  • Austin, TX
  • Boston, MA
  • Chicago, IL
  • Columbus, OH
  • Dallas, TX
  • Denver, CO
  • Indianapolis, IN
  • Los Angeles, CA
  • Miami, FL
  • Montgomery County, MD
  • Nashville, TN
  • Newark, NJ
  • New York City, NY
  • Northern Virginia, VA
  • Philadelphia, PA
  • Pittsburgh, PA
  • Raleigh, NC
  • Toronto, ON
  • Washington DC

My thoughts

Amazon HQ in Seattle
Photo by Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Tim D. Godbee (US Dept. of Defense / public domain)

Several of the cities chosen seem concentrated around Washington, DC. Montgomery County is a county in Maryland that’s basically DC suburbs. Meanwhile, “northern Virginia” seems vague, though presumably Amazon has Virginia’s DC suburbs in mind.

Interesting that Toronto’s still on the list. Again, I doubt they’ll be going north of the border, especially when there’s more business-friendly parts of the US.

Indianapolis is still in the running, as is Columbus, Ohio. However, Cleveland, Cincinnati, or Detroit aren’t on the list?

Possible cities

Here’s my list of the 10 cities most likely to get Amazon’s HQ2:

  • Austin, TX
  • Dallas
  • Indianapolis
  • Raleigh, NC
  • Denver
  • Nashville
  • Atlanta
  • Pittsburgh
  • Northern Virginia
  • Chicago

My reasoning for some of the above cities (and ones I left off):

  • Texas has no state income tax, just like Washington State. Granted, Washington’s lack of an income tax is the cause of some of the state’s budgetary/funding issues, but I digress…
  • Most of the cities I picked are in Republican-controlled or -friendly states, which means they’re more likely to be business-friendly. Amenities are nice, but ultimately, this is a business decision.
  • Miami was on my original list of cities, but I replaced it here with northern Virginia. Miami’s too far south of the rest of the country, making it a long shot; Seattle’s already in a somewhat distant corner of the country. (Air fare from Seattle to anywhere isn’t cheap.)
  • While “northern Virginia” sounds vague, Amazon picked three locations in/near Washington DC for a reason. Also, Virginia’s usually more conservative-leaning than DC/Maryland, which presumably extends to being business-friendly.
  • A hard decision, but Pittsburgh’s a cheaper city than Philadelphia, so I went with the Steel City.
  • Los Angeles, like Seattle, is also on the west coast, which feels redundant as a location. There’s also Los Angeles’ infamously bad traffic.

Which city will it be?

Superboy's possible cities to move to
From “Superman” #365 (November 1981). Art by Kurt Schaffenberger.

My pick for which city is Austin. It matches everything Amazon would want:

  • A state with no state income tax and a GOP-controlled, business-friendly government.
  • A cosmopolitan city with access to lots of tech resources.
  • Lots of cultural aspects, including the annual SXSW conference.

One downside of Austin, however, is that it’s still in Texas, which isn’t very friendly about things like LGBT rights. That might make it harder to convince some possible talent to move to the Lone Star State.

If it were up to me, I’d pick Chicago. It’s centrally located, is the nation’s third-largest city, and is cheaper than New York. The city also has a diverse population to draw from, which would help with the tech industry’s problems with not hiring enough African-Americans and Latinos. Chicago also has an existing, extensive mass transit system, unlike most of the other nominated cities. Finally, Chicago and the state of Illinois have LGBT anti-discrimination laws, which Texas doesn’t have. (Austin itself has such laws.)

The winning city will be announced later this year.

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