January 22, 2018

Amazon announces twenty possible cities for their second headquarters (Numbers 1-20 won’t shock you!)


Amazon Orange: the last brilliant flash you see before you die

Late last year, we covered something that sucked more than anything had sucked before: New York City’s attempt to catch Amazon’s eye by turning its buildings “Amazon Orange.”

This was part of the pageant in which North American cities paraded their amenities—in evening wear like modern transportation and museums; in talent categories like local colleges and educated citizens; and in a bikini contest showing off property tax breaks, and other financial incentives that left little to the imagination—in hopes of winning the title of “home to Amazon’s second headquarters.”

And in keeping with the pageant theme, a shortlist of finalist candidate cities was announced last week. The remaining contenders—narrowed from the original 238 bidders to a field of twenty cities—is, well, unsurprising.

As Nick Wingfield writes of the announcement for the New York Times:

Many of the cities selected had been considered shoo-ins from the moment Amazon announced the search in September, largely because they closely matched the attributes that the company said it wanted in a second home, which it is calling HQ2. Those criteria included a metropolitan area with a population greater than one million and the ability to attract and keep strong technical talent.

The list includes major cities aiming to become the US’s next tech mecca, like New York and LA. It heavily favors cities made groovier through popularity with younger inhabitants like Austin and Pittsburgh. It also includes non-American Toronto for good measure.

You can find the whole list, as well as NBA pre-game-style analysis of each bidder’s strengths and weaknesses, here.

The new operation could create as many as 50,000 jobs for the city that wins the mega-retailer’s affections. But, as Nikil Saval cautions us in his piece for n+1: 

It is beyond question that, in whatever city it chose to grace, Amazon would bring neither the jobs that that city needed, nor the public works that it needed. In his latest variation on the urbanist delusion, written for the Financial Times, the much-pilloried Richard Florida plaintively appealed to Amazon not to “accept any tax or financial incentives,” but rather to pledge to “invest alongside cities to create better jobs, build more affordable housing, and develop better schools, transit, and other badly needed public goods, along with paying its fair share of taxes.” The depths of Florida’s naiveté cannot be overstated. Not only is Amazon categorically unlikely to pledge what he wants (or, even if it did, make even the slightest effort to deliver on such a pledge), but Florida openly expresses his desire to cede all urban political power and every human demand to the whims of the company. In this respect, too, the Amazon HQ2 contest has been clarifying.

Oh, and Amazon might ruin the lucky city’s sex life, too.



Ryan Harrington is a senior editor at Melville House.