Amazon has provided a shortlist for HQ2 with 20 candidates. It has also provided specifics that will be of interest in determining which cities will be considered for HQ2. To be shortlisted the location had to 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. However 3 of them fit the housing affordability index:
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.
The second largest city in Pennsylvania, Pittsburgh, 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.
Chicago is a cosmopolitan city of 44,000 people working in software engineering among an incredible 143,000 people in its budding tech sector. Under its wings is Boeing, which moved to Chicago in 2001 from Seattle. The city has excellent transport connectivity to Seattle and Amazon already has plans to boost its fulfillment centers and increase its Illinois workforce to reach 8,000 by the end of next year.