Amazon HQ2 Bids Are In — Here's What Bisnow Knows About The Contenders
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Amazon’s HQ2 request for proposals are due today. Cities throughout the U.S. and Canada have pulled no punches in their attempts to lure the tech giant, and now it will come down to the best proposal.
What market will take home the prize? The entire country is waiting with bated breath for the e-commerce mammoth’s decision, which is slated to be announced next year.
Here is what Bisnow knows about those in the running for HQ2:
More than 50 cities in the U.S. and Canada are bidding for the chance to house Amazon’s multimillion-square-foot headquarters, which the company boasts will bring 50,000 high-paying tech jobs to the city. The contenders span the country, including markets not known as tech hubs like Atlanta, newbies to the tech scene like Austin, Texas, and already tech-dominant, densely populated markets like New York and San Francisco.
Prime Tech Talent Is A Must
A market’s ability to attract top tech talent is a key factor being considered by Amazon. This does not exclude many markets from the pool, as cities are increasingly making moves to attract tech companies and talent to their metros. Leading tech markets this year include the country’s tech hub San Francisco Bay Area, followed by New York City, Seattle and Washington, D.C. Up-and-coming markets attracting young tech professionals include Austin, Los Angeles, Chicago and Denver.
Maybe A 21-Foot Cactus Will Do The Trick?
There is a thin line between creativity and desperation. In the battle for HQ2, cities are leaving no stones unturned, and are offering incentives above and beyond those outlined in the RFP. Frisco, Texas’ mayor is offering to build the remainder of his city around Amazon’s new headquarters. Stonecrest, Georgia, city officials voted 4-2 to rename the city Amazon, Georgia, should it be selected. Tucson, Arizona, sent a 21-foot cactus to Amazon founder Jeff Bezos to symbolize the city’s growth, adaptability and durability.
“Can You Hear Me Now?”
Stellar building connectivity is a must for Amazon. The tech giant said “optimal fiber connectivity is paramount” in its RFP. This goes beyond office towers having basic high-speed internet or great cell service. In order to truly fulfill Amazon’s connectivity request, it starts with an entire city's infrastructure and policies.
Don Peebles Enters The Race
Prominent East Coast developer Don Peebles is pointing Amazon in Charlotte, North Carolina’s direction. The founder of Peebles Corp. said a massive 17-acre site called Brooklyn Village in Mecklenburg County would make a solid campus for the tech giant. Perks include proximity to public transportation, financial incentives and a site that could accommodate more than 5M SF of office and other uses.
Austin The Assumed Winner?
In a report by Moody’s Analytics using specific details from Amazon’s RFP, Austin, Texas, came out ahead of its competitors as the city most likely to win Amazon’s HQ2. Moody's cited a myriad of reasons, including Austin's existing tech hub status, Texas' business-friendly environment and its overall quality of life. These markets were listed as potential runners-up.
It’s Not All Roses And Sunshine
In the race for HQ2, city officials are throwing major incentive packages Amazon’s way to woo the tech giant. But are they really thinking through the effects? Luring a corporate giant like Amazon to a market and housing 50,000 new employees is no easy feat. Take into account the fact that people come with spouses and children, and will use city resources like public schools, law enforcement and infrastructure. Should city officials offer robust financial incentive packages that include a major tax write-off, it could be to its detriment down the road when the city has to bulk up its services.
The Competition Is Fierce
These are but a handful of the cities vying for HQ2, and a bit more info about what each market has to offer:
Bay Area — Perhaps An Old Naval Station Will Do It?
Brooklyn — A Long Shot … Or Is It?
Charlotte — Even Michael Jordan And The Buses Are On Board
Detroit — Will Teaming Up With Canada Help?
Philadelphia — Forget The Rules, Philly Will Move Heaven And Earth
San Francisco — Bay Area Collusion To Bring In Amazon