Thursday’s move by Amazon to start the search for HQ2, its second headquarters that will be at par with Seattle, will no doubt see North American politicians jostling for positions that will pitch their cities as the most attractive to host the online retail giant.
In a press release, the company provided specifics that will be of interest in determining which cities will be considered for HQ2. To be shortlisted the location will have an environment that is business-friendly, have a robust technical workforce with over one million residents and be liberal in thinking big and creatively on real estate options and locations.
There are multiple cities across North America that would be likely candidates for hosting the second headquarters for Amazon but some may be too expensive or too close to Seattle. Several of them come close to the minimum requirements that Amazon is looking for. They include:
Pittsburgh: The second largest city in Pennsylvania has 12,000 people working in software development in a 42,000-strong tech workforce and hosts Carnegie Mellon University. Other tech companies like Apple, Facebook and Uber have set up operations here as a result of the city’s renewal efforts. The rust belt city has a low cost of living and its re-invention could be attractive to Amazon.
Boston: Amazon already has offices in Boston with plans announced earlier this year to add another 900 jobs. Although the city has lost its luster as a tech hub after several companies relocated including Facebook which after being founded moved to Silicon Valley, it has a surfeit of talent in such diverse areas as cloud computing, artificial intelligence, computer vision and robotics. With none of the tech giants headquartered in Boston, and considering the large pool of talent found here the city will be in contention to host Amazon’s HQ2.
Toronto: During a Microsoft Summit in Seattle earlier this year, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau outlined the benefits of tech investment in Canada. Looking north of the border, two cities come to mind: Toronto and Vancouver. However, the close proximity of Vancouver to Amazon’s Seattle hometown leaves Toronto as a possible choice. Its location on the East Coast gives it an edge in attracting global talent avoiding the immigration turmoil in the U.S. under the Trump administration. Between 2015 and 2016, Toronto has created 22,500 tech jobs and has been ranked first in growth of tech jobs. The cosmopolitan city has also been ranked as the second best city for the quality and value of its technology workforce, according to CBRE. Toronto’s talent is also cheaper compared to other U.S. cities and has been known to be top-tier.
Atlanta: Being a transportation hub and boasting a pool of 133,000 low cost tech workers, this city will be in contention to host Amazon’s second headquarters. Being home to Georgia Tech will also provide a steady flow of talent.
Austin: Amazon has some presence in Austin with its recent acquisition of Whole Foods, which is headquartered in Austin, Texas for $13.7 billion. The city has several tech companies like RackSpace, Dell and HomeAway which tap into the talent produced by the University of Texas, domiciled in Austin. The city also boasts of more than 25,000 people working in software development among its 68,000 workforce in the tech industry. The absence of an income tax in Texas may also be an advantage although other states have that incentive including Wyoming, South Dakota, Florida, Washington, Alaska, and Nevada.