Tuesday 17 July 2018

238 US cities and districts in bid to secure Amazon's HQ2

Boston has already been proposed by several Amazon executives as a possible location for HQ2 owing to the proximity of Harvard University and MIT
Boston has already been proposed by several Amazon executives as a possible location for HQ2 owing to the proximity of Harvard University and MIT

Natalie Wong

Amazon.com Inc's second headquarters, dubbed HQ2, has lured 238 proposals extending across 54 states, provinces, districts and territories in North America, the company said last Monday.

Only seven US states refrained from bidding: Arkansas, Hawaii, Wyoming, North Dakota, South Dakota, Montana and Vermont, according to a map Amazon published on its website.

Cities are battling for Amazon's investment of $5bn in construction and 50,000 high-paying jobs spread over the next two decades: New York City's mayor Bill de Blasio ordered landmarks around the city lit up in 'Amazon orange' before the bids were due last week. Canadian prime minister, Justin Trudeau penned a personal letter to Amazon chief executive officer Jeff Bezos, advocating for HQ2 to be located in Canada instead. Newark, New Jersey has offered $7bn in potential tax credits.

Amazon's preferences for HQ2 include a metropolitan location with a population of more than 1 million, mass transit, proximity to an international flight hub and the potential to retain and attract technical talent. The new home will be a full equal to the Seattle headquarters, said the tech giant.

In addition to direct hiring and investment from Amazon, HQ2 is expected to create tens of thousands of jobs and tens of billions of dollars in investment in the surrounding community.

To put that into perspective, Amazon estimated that its investments in Seattle from 2010-16 resulted in an additional $38bn to the city's economy - each dollar the company invested created an extra $1.40 for the Seattle economy.

Atlanta, Boston, Chicago and Detroit are among the cities believed to have the best chance of securing Amazon's second headquarters Here are the reasons why:

Atlanta

The southern US city, home of Amazon delivery partner United Parcel Service Inc, is a major flight hub, and the greater metro area houses a dynamic population of almost 6 million, as well as the headquarters of major corporations like Coca-Cola and Home Depot Inc.

Still, Atlanta is a relatively suburban city, compared with the urban HQ1 of Seattle.

Boston

Several Amazon executives have already advocated putting HQ2 in Boston, due to its proximity to Harvard University and Massachusetts Institute of Technology; an airport with non-stop flights to Seattle and Washington DC; and a lower cost of living than some other large urban areas.

Amazon has ties with Boston already, having purchased local robot maker Kiva Systems Inc for $775m in 2012. The city also won General Electric Co's 2015 new headquarters bid, and has provided more than $100m in grants, property tax relief and programmes for GE.

But Boston has said it won't negotiate any incentives with Amazon until it makes it past the first round of the selection process.

Chicago

The 'Windy City' ranks second in Anderson Economic Group's analysis of 35 cities competing for the precious HQ2, focusing on its talent, diverse ecosystem and access to transportation in its bid.

Last month, Illinois governor Bruce Rauner reauthorised the Economic Development for a Growing Economy tax-credit programme, which provides special tax incentives to companies relocating to Illinois or expanding operations in the state when another state is actively competing.

One issue? The city isn't known as a centre of technology.

Detroit

Detroit offers low rent and the potential for larger tax breaks, because the city and the state of Michigan are still trying to turn themselves around and diversify from manufacturing.

Michigan is also home to three big universities that produce a broad pool of talent. According to Michigan State University, 70pc of its engineering graduates remained in the state. Even so, governor Rick Snyder has said he will not ask the state legislature to approve additional incentives just for Amazon.

Other notable contenders in the bid for Amazon's business include Denver, Pittsburgh, Washington DC and Austin. Amazon has said it will make a decision regarding the location of its second home next year.

(Bloomberg)

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