PROS UPS, Coca-Cola and Home Depot call Atlanta home. Why not Amazon? With its white-collar workforce, world-class airport and relatively low costs, Atlanta does the corporate headquarters thing better than most cities. Throw in a sizable logistics industry and a great engineering school in Georgia Tech, and Jeff Bezos could come down to Georgia.
CONS Sprawl. If Amazon wants a campus plugged into the city, it may go elsewhere. Traffic is brutal, transit is lacking, and
K-12 schools in Georgia are not as strong as some other top contenders’ systems.
PROS It’s a vibrant tech town with a smart workforce and one of the nation’s biggest and best public universities. Housing costs are modest compared with many coastal cities. And Amazon’s newest acquisition — Whole Foods — is headquartered there.
CONS At 2 million people, Austin is the smallest metro area on this list and already wrestles with stifling traffic. Can it absorb Amazon? Also, its airport, while “international,” doesn’t offer many overseas flights.
PROS Smart, young workforce? Check. Big sites near downtown? Yup. Major airport and viable transit system? Got it. Denver checks nearly all of the boxes Amazon sets up in its RFP, and boasts 300 days of sunshine a year — for when execs need a break from that Seattle gloom.
CONS Geographically, and culturally, Denver might be too close to Seattle for a company that’s looking to diversify its employee base. While Colorado has an educated workforce, it lacks the elite universities most of the other elite contenders boast.
PROS If Amazon wants a big city in the middle of America, Chicago’s hard to beat. It’s a headquarters town, with deep roots in retail and logistics, and a growing tech scene. It’s also got some cool sites to offer, and Mayor Rahm Emanuel is rolling out the red carpet.
CONS City and state finances are a basket case, which could ding education funding or lead to higher taxes down the road. Chicago’s economy has been relatively sluggish of late and its reputation for deep bureaucracy could keep Amazon away.
PROS Cities don’t get more business-friendly than the Big D, which has an impressive roster of corporate headquarters and sites galore to offer up. Like Washington state, Texas has no income tax, which would save Amazonians some cash. Texas also has a history of going all-in on incentives to lure major employers.
CONS Some say Amazon wants to be on the East Coast. Dallas schools aren’t at quite the same level of some others in this group of eight. If “community fit” is indeed a high priority, Jeff Bezos may not choose a red state that’s often at ground zero in the culture wars.
PROS If Amazon desires a globally connected city with quality schools and a growing tech industry, it might look north of the border. Toronto’s got all of that. As a bonus for Bezos, he could send a clear message to President Trump about the costs of restrictive immigration policies.
CONS Crossing the border for a second headquarters could get complicated, and most of Amazon’s sales, employees, and suppliers are in the United States. Toronto, too, has felt the effects of surging housing prices, and it’s feeling the squeeze of rapid growth.
PROS A major market with a smart workforce, the nation’s capital has a lot of potential appeal for Amazon, from well-regarded education institutions to a (generally) pleasant quality of life, plus access to political movers and shakers. What’s more, Bezos owns a $23 million mansion in D.C., as well as The Washington Post.
CONS D.C.’s kind of a one-industry town. How would a tech titan fit in culturally? It’s expensive, too — no cheaper than Seattle (or Boston). And competing bids from Maryland, Virginia, and the District of the Columbia could muddy the metro area’s appeal.Tim Logan can be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter at @bytimlogan.