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MAKING THE CUT

Amazon is thinking about putting HQ2 just about everywhere except Silicon Valley

By Alison Griswold

Four and a half months after Amazon announced its search for a second North American headquarters, the e-commerce giant has issued its shortlist.

The 20 cities and counties that made the cut for HQ2 are anything but surprising. They are:

  • Atlanta, Georgia
  • Austin, Texas
  • Boston, Massachusetts
  • Chicago, Illinois
  • Columbus, Ohio
  • Dallas, Texas
  • Denver, Colorado
  • Indianapolis, Indiana
  • Los Angeles, California
  • Miami, Florida
  • Montgomery County, Maryland
  • Nashville, Tennessee
  • New York City, New York
  • Newark, New Jersey
  • Northern Virginia
  • Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
  • Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
  • Raleigh, North Carolina
  • Toronto, Canada
  • Washington, DC

That said, there are distinctive clusters. The greater DC metro area made a strong showing, with Amazon including DC proper, Northern Virginia, and Montgomery County on its shortlist. The same can be said of the greater New York metro area, which is represented on the shortlist by New York City, Newark, and Philadelphia. There are also notable omissions, like San Francisco and the rest of Silicon Valley.

Amazon

Amazon narrowed its list from 238 bids across the US, Canada, and Mexico. The places that threw their hat into the ring ranged from Anchorage, Alaska (thanks to three local business owners) to the state of Idaho. Alaska and Delaware made bids although they didn’t meet one of Amazon’s basic criteria: that the new headquarters be near a metro area of at least 1 million people. The company’s other criteria included large buildings (of at least 500,000 square feet), a skilled labor force, and plentiful incentives.

Quartz’s own ranking for HQ2, calculated using data on how US cities ranked on Amazon’s criteria, included 12 of the 20 cities that ultimately made Amazon’s cut. Our top pick for Amazon based on measures of doing business, education, transit, quality of life, and nearby universities, was Salt Lake City, which doesn’t appear on the official shortlist. We ranked Denver as the no. 2 best option, Boston no. 3, Raleigh/Durham as no. 4, and Washington DC as no. 5.