Amazon is in the news again. Just months after the online retailer made headlines with its acquisition of healthy grocer Whole Foods, the company has announced that it plans to open a new headquarters facility somewhere outside its current hometown of Seattle.
Splitting its headquarters between two cities might seem risky for Amazon. Bit as smart poker players know, scared money don’t make money. Amazon has lived by the creed since its inception, taking innumerable smart chances as it grew from an on-line bookseller to the world’s largest digital bazaar.
Amazon’s CEO Jeff Bezos has said that the company expects the new headquarters to be a full equal to the existing Seattle company base. The price tag on HQ2 is about $5 billion when you combine construction and operation costs. Bezos believes the new headquarters will create tens of thousands new high-paying jobs, and billions of dollars in up-front and ongoing investments.
This luscious prize has mayors across the country salivating. So, which cities are on the short-list for Amazon HQ2? Here are three of the biggest contenders, with their pros and cons. Trust me, you’ll want to read number three.
Talk about a resurgence for the Motor City. Distressed Detroit could really use the business, and it’s an attractive locale for Amazon because of the low price tag and huge lots of developable land near the downtown area. Couple that with the city’s wealth of highly educated technology and engineering talent, and appears a solid nominee.
But for all of Detroit’s appeal, it doesn’t have the most favorable climate and currently lacks an extensive mass transit system. Critics wonder, while its tech economy is growing, has it hit the magnitude and diversity Amazon HQ2 would require?
Bustling Chicago is also on the list for potential HQ2 sites. The Windy City’s top-of-the-line transit system, which also boasts a centralized rail and airport hub, make it an easy-to-navigate city for Amazon to do business. Couple this with Chicago’s briskly developing tech scene, and it seems like Amazon could feel right at home here.
The downside is the serious fiscal issues that both Chicago and Illinois have weathered. In fact, the state hasn’t had a budget in years. This brings the dreadful business factor of uncertainty to the equation and makes the ability for the city to offer competitive incentive packages more tenuous.
That’s right – Hotlanta. For those of us who live in this thriving city, it makes sense. Georgia Tech is here, rolling out business and tech-savvy grads each year. Hartsfield International Airport calls Atlanta home. Our thriving metropolis is located on the East Coast, enhancing Amazon’s reach. Aside from humid summers, our climate is great. And we host as a number of other big-name corporate headquarters, like Anthem, Mercedes-Benz, GE Digital, and Honeywell. Call me biased, but we’re pretty great.
On the flip side, it does seem like it’s getting more and more expensive to live here. Especially over the last few years, housing prices have spiked, so Amazon may be looking at an expensive market.
But could Atlanta be on a lucky business streak? Remember, the city was recently selected by the NFL to host Super Bowl LIII in 2019 in the new Mercedes-Benz Stadium. (This marks the third Super Bowl held in Atlanta and the first since Super Bowl XXXIV in 2000.)
While it’s still unclear which city will win Amazon’s favor, this point is clear: scoring the site for the second home for this business giant would be a touchdown for Atlanta. Let’s play ball.