The Amazon HQ2 search ends anticlimatically: It’s Washington DC’s suburbs and New York

Amazon’s much publicized search for a secondary headquarters, dubbed “HQ2,” has finally ended. However, the cities chosen aren’t exactly surprising choices. The new headquarters will be split between New York City (specifically, Queens) and Washington, DC’s suburbs. The latter, more specifically, will be in a neighborhood of Arlington, Virginia, across the river from Washington, DC).

25,000 jobs will be coming to each of these cities. Additionally, Amazon plans to add 5,000 jobs to a facility in Nashville, though it isn’t serving as any type of headquarters.

No Amazon HQ2 for you, flyover country

Chicago skyline
Photo by 12019 (Pixabay / CC0)

The Amazon HQ2 picks of New York and Washington, DC aren’t exactly surprises—as others have noted, they’re two of the most obvious picks for a tech company. New York is the largest city in the country, as well as the nation’s financial capital. Washington, DC is the nation’s capital; besides political reasons (lobbying, etc.), the outlying DC area’s also a growing home to many high-tech jobs. Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos also owns the Washington Post.

Thus, neither of these places really needed to recruit Amazon HQ2 for tech jobs, as they’re already prominent cities in the technology field. Meanwhile, it seems the Midwest missed out. As Vox notes, if tech jobs are the future, they need to be available in the Midwest, not just in cities on either coast. Especially cities that’re increasingly expensive places to live (speaking from my own experience of living in Seattle).

The Midwest (and everyone else) dodged disaster?

Amazon gift cards
Flickr photo by Mike Mozart (CC BY)

The above said, there’s plenty of reasons against Jeff Bezos’ company coming to town.

For starters, New York’s incentive package alone runs $1.7 billion, which is sparking harsh criticism.

There’s also the idea of governments needing to offer tax incentives to lure businesses at all, especially one headed by the world’s wealthiest person. As The Digital Reader notes, New York and Washington DC’s suburbs aren’t exactly struggling to attract tech companies.

Finally, the downsides of Amazon’s presence in Seattle have been heavily publicized. Off the top of my head:

  • Traffic congestion. Traffic jams here aren’t pleasant, even as a bus rider.
  • Climbing rent rates, which have pushed working and middle class people out to the suburbs (or out of the area entirely).
  • Amazon played a big role in getting the city government to repeal a “head tax” on large businesses meant to help assist with the city’s sizable homeless rate. Despite the world’s two wealthiest people living here, Washington State has no state income tax—probably one reason it’s attractive to new businesses. Though no state income tax comes at the consequence of things like fairly high sales taxes. (Groceries are exempt, but Seattle’s sales tax is at about 10%.)

Given all of this, it might be better to find ways to create tech jobs, while accounting for (or preventing) the problems outlined above.

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