CXO

Amazon's top 20 for HQ2: Handicapping the leaders

The winning city could see a boon of high-tech jobs and economic growth, while potentially attracting other tech giants.

Building a slide deck, pitch, or presentation? Here are the big takeaways:
  • The city where Amazon builds its second headquarters will see a $5 billion investment from the company, which also expects to hire 50,000 high-paying jobs.
  • The winning city will be chosen from 20 finalists, down from 238 entries. Amazon's presence could attract more tech talent and other companies, turning the city into the next US tech hub.

Amazon unveiled the 20 finalists in its search for a location to build its second headquarters, the company announced in a Thursday press release. Whittled down from 238 entries, these metropolitan areas represents cities from across North America—although most are located along the US eastern seaboard.

Amazon stated in the release that the second headquarters (HQ2) will be a "full equal" to its original Seattle HQ, and the winning city will receive a $5 billion dollar investment along with the creation of an estimated 50,000 high-paying jobs.

The presence of the e-commerce giant could likely set up the winning city as the next technology nexus in the US. Not only will the firm hire talent away from major tech hubs like San Francisco, but don't be surprised if other tech companies follow Amazon's lead by moving to the city or opening up a satellite location there since it will immediately bolster the tech ecosystem of wherever it goes.

SEE: IT jobs 2018: Hiring priorities, growth areas, and strategies to fill open roles (Tech Pro Research)

Additionally, the move will benefit the local economy in the construction process, as well as after completion, with the host of construction and service jobs that will be available. Depending on what the headquarters will focus on, there may also be a logistics tie-in as well. According to Amazon's estimates, its investments in Seattle from 2010-2016 generated $38 billion for the city's economy.

Amazon's named list of 20 finalists is as follows (in alphabetical order):

  1. Atlanta, GA
  2. Austin, TX
  3. Boston, MA
  4. Chicago, IL
  5. Columbus, OH
  6. Dallas, TX
  7. Denver, CO
  8. Indianapolis, IN
  9. Los Angeles, CA
  10. Miami, FL
  11. Montgomery County, MD
  12. Nashville, TN
  13. Newark, NJ
  14. New York City, NY
  15. Northern Virginia, VA
  16. Philadelphia, PA
  17. Pittsburgh, PA
  18. Raleigh, NC
  19. Toronto, ON
  20. Washington D.C.

It's worth noting that 14 of the candidates are in the Eastern Time Zone, where a lot of the business world still operates. It would also give the firm a talent pool operating on the time zones of both coasts in North America, making it easier to connect with partners in that area, regardless of their regional geography. All of these cities were evaluated and chosen based on the criteria Amazon outlined in its original RFP, the release said.

According to the release, Amazon will be working with the cities over the coming months to better understand their potential as a partner city, and it will make a decision sometime by the end of 2018.

SEE: IT Jobs in 2020: A Leader's Guide (ZDNet)

Handicapping the leaders

Amazon is extremely cost conscious, so it seems unlikely that the firm would choose one of the more expensive options on the list, such as New York City, Boston, or Washington, D.C. In TechRepublic's analysis, Austin, TX and Raleigh, NC stand out as two of the top candidates.

1. Austin, TX

Austin is the home of SXSW and has a tech scene that has seen strong growth in recent years, with many tech bellwethers opening large offices in the city. It's also the home of the University of Texas, so plenty of young talent is available. But, the state does have a somewhat complicated Margin Tax, that could be a turn off.

2. Raleigh, NC

Quite a few tech companies are also located in Raleigh, including many Silicon Valley tech giants. Being in the Research Triangle, Raleigh would also be a good spot to siphon top university talent. If Amazon is looking for a second engineering hub (it mentioned software development on its HQ2 page), Raleigh could be the perfect fit.

Wildcards

Atlanta, GA and Columbus, OH are also cities to watch. Both cities are in the Eastern Time Zone, boast large universities, have a lower cost of living, have other large brands headquartered there, and growing tech ecosystems.

Also see

amazonhq2.jpg
Image: Amazon

About Conner Forrest

Conner Forrest is a Senior Editor for TechRepublic. He covers enterprise technology and is interested in the convergence of tech and culture.

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