The Amazon HQ2 Top Cities: 20 in the Cart

Now that the Amazon HQ2 top cities list is narrowed to 20 finalists, here's what government leaders did to attract attention and be in the running for the second Amazon headquarters.

Amazon asked million-strong metros to apply to be its second headquarters by October 19, 2017, and 238 applications came through. Planners joked that it would take 1,000 employees just to go through the applications. However the company did it, and today it has arrived at a long-awaited shortlist of Amazon HQ2 top cities.

According to Smart Cities DIVE, Amazon has shortlisted 20 cities or regions, and some of the locales don't adhere to the RFP. Nick Egelanian, president of retail development consultants SiteWorks International, said he was surprised by some of the 238 that made it to the final round, noting that several are not on the East Coast -- a factor many speculate is an unstated Amazon preference.

However over at PBS, the speculation is on another unofficial criterion -- proximity to where Jeff Bezos owns things, like residences and other businesses. PBS might be on to something since #11 and #20 on the list are only about a 40 minute drive from each other, and #15 is certainly driveable from what the Washington Post called "the biggest house in Washington," a home Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos purchased early in 2017. He also owns the Washington Post.

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On the official Amazon HQ2 page, the company said it would work with the following candidate cities on their proposals, and expects to make a decision this year. Why be in a rush? The whole process has spawned a media frenzy and cities are behaving like birds of paradise to get the company to notice their fine plumage and all that they offer. It's been incredible grist for Amazon's mill.

Along with the list of Amazon HQ2 top cities below, we include tidbits with links that highlight the best reasons to pick each one of these million-strong metros in the most exciting race since probably the discovery of DNA structure.

#1 Atlanta

A month ago, Amazon registered a lobbyist in the Georgia state capitol. The city has not revealed its incentives, but Business Insider said Georgia Governor Nathan Deal is offering aggressive economic and infrastructure incentives.

#2 Austin, Texas

Moody's crunched the numbers using data from local governments and community surveys, according to Business Insider, and they are calling it Austin for the win.

#3 Boston

Despite Logan Airport being named the third worst airport in the United States by a 2016 J.D. Power study, according to the Boston Globe, it may have captured a spot on the Amazon HQ2 top cities list with a promise to put an Amazon team inside City Hall and a $75 million incentive for employee housing.

#4 Chicago

We think Fortune summarized it best: "Chicago is willing to give the tax revenue the city would collect from Amazon employees back to the company as a tax break. That means workers would need to pay taxes and the estimated $1.3 billion in tax revenue would be sent to Amazon. Wow." Here's the story: Chicago's Amazon HQ2 bid offers money for nothing, and TIFs for free.

#5 Columbus, Ohio

In addition to partnership with Ohio State, Columbus offered a 15-year, 100 percent property-tax abatement at all sites associated with Amazon HQ2, according to the Columbus Dispatch. The report indicated a savings of $456,750 per $1 million of investment in property over the life of the abatement.

#6 Dallas

Sixty percent of those surveyed in Dallas want Amazon HQ2, according to CNBC. Of those surveyed, Dallas residents want it the most -- second only to Detroit respondents. Since Detroit didn't make the Amazon HQ2 top cities list, Dallas now unofficially wants it the most.

#7 Denver

According to the New York Times, it's going to Denver. The Mile High City seems to be the total package for a second Amazon headquarters.

#8 Indianapolis

From the Indianapolis Business Journal:

Pros: "Existing Amazon footprint, rich logistics and technology expertise and relatively low rent and wage costs."

Cons: "Its size, a few taxes considered tech unfriendly and its inability, so far, to shake being overlooked as a top tech hub."

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