Researchers: DC most likely pick for $5B Amazon HQ2
- In a city-to-city analysis of the finalists for Amazon's new $5 billion North American headquarters (HQ2), public relations consultancy Hamilton Place Strategies (HPS) found that Washington, D.C., is the location to beat, according to GeekWire.
- In its evaluation, HPS ranked DC the highest based on its above-average scores for such Amazon criteria as mass transit, workforce education level and livability, as well as fiber optic and cellular network coverage. "Business and career rankings" was the only category for which HPS gave The District a below-average score.
- Boston and north Virginia came in second and third, respectively, with both scoring high in how educated their workforces are and their proximity to the country's top universities. HPS said it did not figure Toronto into its study because of the lack of data standardization between the U.S. and Canada.
The HPS report is the latest in a string of analyses trying to best-guess the internet retailing giant's pick for its mammoth second headquarters. So far Boston, New York City and Chicago are among the cities that have been identified as potential frontrunners.
But this guessing game is no surprise given what's at stake. Not only would a new headquarters mean billions in construction and associated contracts, along with plenty of jobs for construction industry workers, but when Amazon made its initial announcement about investing in such a development, the company estimated that it would eventually host up to 50,000 employees there.
Some HQ2 contenders have used the promise of tax breaks and other enticements to make their proposals more attractive. New Jersey was the most generous with an incentive package of $7 billion, followed by Irvine, Calif., with a total offering of $5 billion and $2 billion to $3 billion from Philadelphia.
Of course, there are those who are sounding the warning bell about what such a significant Amazon presence could mean for the winning location. In fact, just before the company announced the HQ2 20 finalists from a group of 238, 85 organizations inked a letter to Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos asking him to guarantee that the existing character and positive aspects of the winning city would not be overrun by the company's development efforts. Some Seattle activists have also been quick to claim that an influx of tech workers at Amazon's existing headquarters has led to higher home prices, a scarcity of affordable housing and more traffic congestion.
Follow Kim Slowey on Twitter