Amazon Narrows Competition for Second Headquarters Down to 20 Final Cities
by Alex Perman
Amazon plans to build a second headquarters in one of 20 cities chosen as finalists for its new location. The competition began with Amazon receiving bids from 238 different cities for their second headquarters entitled “HQ2.” An intense bidding war broke out after Amazon announced that HQ2 would cost upwards of $5 billion and bring 50,000 new jobs to the chosen city.
The headquarters itself would contain 40,000 Amazon employees, 24 restaurants and cafes, as well as bring in hundreds of thousands of visitors. The building will span 8.1 million square feet and require a capital investment of over $3.5 billion. According to Amazon, it would also increase the Fortune 500 companies with engineering/R&D centers in Seattle from seven to 31.
A few of the 20 finalist cities include Atlanta, Dallas, Miami, New York City, and Chicago. Most of the cities that were chosen to be finalists were not much of a surprise, as they are strong candidates, and fit Amazon’s requirements.
Many of the design mock-ups of the headquarters for various cities have already been published online. Spaces that stretch miles and cover millions of square feet along with colorful, decorative pathways leading in and out of the headquarters can be seen throughout many of the design plans. Some of the possible locations for the Chicago plan include the Bucktown and Lincoln Park area, Fulton Market District, or the Burnham Lakefront, among many others. No further plans will be revealed until Amazon declares a winner.
Amazon outlined what type of location they were looking to build their new headquarters at, noting that the city should have “metropolitan areas with a population of over 1 million,” “within 45 minutes of an international airport” and have, “access to mass transit routes,” as well as other general needs for physical construction of the building. The list of cities who were chosen as finalists also reside primarily in the Midwest and East Coast regions.
Many believe that the city who wins the contest will experience a swell of economic growth and opportunity. People around the country cheer on their local hometown in the hopes that their city will be selected. An article from CNN on Jan. 19, 2018, shares stories from a selection of people across different cities who outline why they think their city is the most capable of being home to HQ2. Many of the reasons on who should win included the city being a transportation hub and its excellent location--being near or around several universities or airports. Others say Washington D.C. would be a good fit, since the founder of Amazon, Jeff Bezos, owns both a home there and the Washington Post newspaper. What is obvious is that the winner will reap a fine reward and enjoy substantial economic growth and success.
Even so, one must consider if promoting all this city rivalry and outrageous bidding is good for the country as a whole. Some who are critical of the competition believe it promotes an unhealthy amount of economic instability, with the finalists trying to outbid one another and dump millions of dollars trying to finance the HQ2 location. A reporter from the Washington Post said,“How much is too much for cities and states to dangle as incentives for the prize of capturing Amazon’s gargantuan second headquarters?” The winner of the competition would be responsible for many costs and risks going forward during the construction. There would be a huge financial bane for the winner and officials may want to consider putting together a thought-out plan to share the cost of the headquarters.
Will the massive reward of jobs and revenue for the city that wins the site for Amazon’s second headquarters pay off in the long term? Or will the cost and expenses alone dictate which city can work past the demanding costs that comes with winning?