20 Cities Survive Amazon HQ2 Shortlist

amazon hq2 shortlist

Four months after Amazon announced plans to construct a second headquarters, North American cities have been making grandstanding pleas in order to court the ecommerce behemoth. New York City’s mayoral office lit up the Empire State building with Amazon’s glowing orange hue in a symbolic gesture, while certain cities like Chicago went the more extreme route, proposing laws that could funnel income taxes directly back to the company. After much speculation, here is the official Amazon HQ2 shortlist:

  • Atlanta
  • Austin
  • Boston
  • Chicago
  • Columbus, Ohio
  • Dallas
  • Denver
  • Indianapolis
  • Los Angeles
  • Miami
  • Montgomery County, Md.
  • Nashville
  • Newark
  • New York
  • Northern Virginia
  • Philadelphia
  • Pittsburgh
  • Raleigh, N.C.
  • Toronto
  • Washington, D.C.

Unsurprisingly, most of the cities that made the cut were among the largest in North America, with only one Canadian city—Toronto—left standing. Over 230 cities from the U.S., Canada, and Mexico made official bids for the company’s second headquarters, with Amazon prioritizing tech-centric metros of populations larger than 500,000. In fact, only four of the 20 metro areas—Miami, Nashville, Newark, and Pittsburgh—have a population of less than half a million, with Newark being the smallest of the entrants. Notably, Newark offered perhaps the largest financial incentive to the company, proposing upwards of $7 billion in tax incentives.

How the Amazon HQ2 shortlist was formed is not totally known, according to the New York Times:

“According to people briefed on the process who would speak only anonymously because the deliberations were private, the process was conducted by a team of about a dozen people within Amazon, including economists, human resources managers and executives who oversee real estate. Jeff Bezos, Amazon’s chief executive who was the mastermind behind turning the search into a public process and coined the term “HQ2,” was also involved, the people said.”

At the time of the initial announcement, Amazon released a stream of positive economic statistics about its impact in Seattle, home to the original headquarters. The company stated (although these statistics are still not yet verified by any source outside of Amazon) that it added $38 billion USD to the value of the city from 2010-16 alone, due to its investments and rapidly expanding workforce. Detractors argue that the financial value added to the city did not positively impact the quality of life, however, with more than 51 percent of Seattle residents making less than $50,000 per year and more than quarter of city residents earn less than $25,000 per year. The influx of high-level employment also contributed to rapidly rising housing costs and poorer traffic.

Experts from CNBC believe that Raleigh might be the front-runner of the remaining entrants, which matches the initial bid criteria the most. Although some speculate that Austin most aligns up with Amazon’s future. The company declined to announce when the final decision will be made.

What Amazon Means For MBA Students

Not so secretly, Amazon has become one of the world’s largest MBA recruiters, hiring students from top schools all over the world. We’ve previously outlined the details of why it has become such an attractive destination for business school students.

The company creates a direct pipeline from its MBA internship program to full-time employment, which should rapidly increase with the creation of HQ2. In a previous interview with the Financial Times, Miriam Park, the Amazon Director of University Programs, highlighted the company’s recruitment strategy:

“The Amazon recruitment process is designed to ensure we hire top candidates with high-growth potential whatever their background may be. As part of this we recruit current MBA students and MBA alumni for permanent and internship opportunities worldwide and see MBAs as an important part of our leadership development. We value people who can balance long-term strategic thinking with tactical execution, and who have the ability to make data-driven decisions.”

Stay tuned for more information about the second headquarters and more potential MBA employment opportunities with MetroMBA.

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About the Author

Matthew Korman

Matthew Korman is a writer on MetroMBA. Since graduating from Rowan University with a degree in journalism and political science, Matthew has worked as a music industry writer and promoter, a data analyst, and with numerous academic institutions. His works have appeared in publications such as NPR and Sports Illustrated.

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