Today is the day we have been waiting for at HQ2 Prime. For months we have been talking about and discussing who will be the ultimate winner in the battle for Amazon and its next headquarters, named HQ2.
The shortlist of 20 is pretty much who we expected. St. Louis, Kansas City and Detroit are a little shocked that they didn’t make the list. A few regions made it that most experts didn’t give a chance to. Some areas not known for people big metro areas have been successful in making the shortlist of 20. Among those on the short list of 20 are the following: Atlanta, Austin, Boston, Chicago, Columbus, Ohio, Dallas, Denver, Indianapolis, Los Angeles, Miami, Montgomery County in Maryland, Nashville, Newark, New York City, Northern Virginia, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Raleigh, Toronto and Washington D.C.
We started this site by telling the world that the next Amazon headquarters will be in Atlanta, Georgia. The website started out as Hq2atlanta.com and as we started to go over each region shot we realized we should expand and give it a name of hq2prime.com because we have been fair in assessment. However, we will give the reasons why we think the final selection will be Atlanta.
- Atlanta is the closest comparable city to Seattle, Washington. Based on the objectives and items of importance outlined in the bid, The WSJ ranked what Amazon is looking for and that includes a solid tech labor force, fiscal health, cost of living, college population, culture fit and state tax. You can see the city comparisons here.
- Cost of Living – Yes, Atlanta is very comparable to Seattle but you can actually afford homes in Atlanta. The culture fit isn’t as good as Seattle but the cost of living and median home values is one of the best in the country. Really only places like Dallas and Nashville compare. I think cost of living is very important and you will need a place where developers and employees will want to move. If you remove the most expensive places for cost of living you can eliminate Boston, Washington DC and New York. I don’t really think that a huge metro area is needed and that this was proven when places like Montgomery County, Northern Virginia and Newark made the list.
- It will be in the USA. Yes, while the RFP was North American city the only one left is Toronto. Now while Toronto is a great place and they did win the Grey Cup this year if Canada was a major target you would have seen more finalist rather than one out of 2o. You would have seen the Detroit-Winsor bid make the cut. I’m sorry, all signs are pointing to a US region.
- Tech Talent / Universities. You need a ramp up in tech talent and then you need to be able to keep that talent coming. Atlanta has a good starting point of tech talent, it isn’t New York but it is growing. Major companies are located here including major transportation hubs and companies, one of the biggest financial processing centers and network security. While tech talent is needed since this will be a duplication of the Seattle headquarters you will also need executives all of the kinds and a steady stream of them. You will need Universities like Georgia Tech, Georgia Southern, University of Georgia and the many smaller but in some fields just as important higher education hubs. Places like Atlanta, Austin, Dallas, even Chicago fit the bill.
- Fiscal Health. I’m sorry Chicago, you are not in good enough health to make the final cut. Budget and pension crisis and corruption have more people moving out of Illinois than nearly any other state. Yes, I moved from Southern Illinois so I know a bit about this. Georgia has one of the best economies of cities left on this list.
- Movie Industry. Amazon Studios is way bigger than you know it is. Amazon Prime video is taking on Netflix and producing and paying for more made for Amazon shows every day. Georgia is one of the top 3 places to produce and develop movies and TV shows. There is a possible connection here, for Amazon in general and even for maybe some possible tax breaks related to it.
- Transportation Hub. Major Airport, major transportation businesses are in Atlanta. UPS is headquartered in Atlanta. The airport is the busiest airport in the nation with a huge talent of pilots that live in the area. The airport is run by the city of Atlanta.
- Diversity. The tech industry has a bad record of diversity. While HQ2 should bring 50K jobs to the winner of the bid, Amazon is set to exceed 500K employees. With 500K employees all over the world you would think that diversity is important. Back in 2014 when Amazon only employed 88K employees around the world the first numbers were released and 63% Amazonians were male while 60% of the employees were white. Link. Atlanta is a very diverse region and putting HQ2 as a second location just makes sense.
- Amazon is already in Atlanta. Amazon has lots of locations but it does make sense that the final location of HQ2 is a place that they are familiar. It is one of the only ways to be able to ramp up as fast as they want to build and employ.
Did I show that Atlanta is the only choice? No.
This is why I changed the domain name from hq2atlanta to hq2prime as there are several prime locations including Atlanta, Austin, Washington DC, Boston and frankly a few places that haven’t even been mentioned.