Atlanta named front-runner for Amazon's new headquarters


It's been two months since Amazon announced they will be searching for a site for their new co-headquarters, resulting in hundreds of applications and endless speculation. Now we have the answer.

Trust us - it's going to be Atlanta.

So says the collective wisdom of urbanists, researchers, pundits and publications. The team at Sperling's BestPlaces collected 18 of the most reputable lists and rankings of potential Amazon HQ2 locations. Using those rankings, we created one huge super-study which tallied how each location performed and from that, we generated a score for each place.

The result is the meta-ranking of all 64 locations mentioned as possible Amazon HQ2 locations in the United States and Canada:

Sperling's Amazon HQ Hyper-Ranking

1. Atlanta
2. Boston
3. Chicago
4. Philadelphia
5. Washington, D.C.
6. Austin
7. Dallas
8. Denver
9. New York City
10. Raleigh

(full list of 64 at the end of this document)
(And here is a link to a Google spreadsheet showing our full analysis, see how your city scored.) (This just in... the Wall Street Journal released their rankings today, choosing Dallas as #1. See impact below.)

"Experts are clearly favoring Atlanta, according to our analysis," says Bert Sperling, of Sperling's BestPlaces, a firm specializing in livability issues and operator of visit this link www.bestplaces.net. "Boston and Chicago are close behind, but Amazon may very well make an unexpected pick for their new HQ2."

Sperling continues, "As several pundits have pointed out, finding a metropolitan area that meets all Amazon's criteria is not only difficult, but impossible. And the HQ2 project is such a massive scale, that it can transform an area, adding missing infrastructure to meet its needs. In this unique case, conventional thinking may be a disadvantage. I expect to be surprised."

In our Amazon Hyper-Ranking, the metro area of Atlanta is the clear winner, with six 1st-place selections. Atlanta was cited by many studies and articles as being large enough to absorb the expected 50,000 new Amazon workers, being a major air hub, and having a reasonable cost of living.

The Boston area is close behind, with a couple of 1st-place selections and finishing in the top ten in 12 of the 18 rankings we surveyed. Chicago lands in third, with three 1st-place nominations and eleven top-ten rankings. The remaining seven of the top ten spots are more distant from the leaders and closely clustered.

In the next group of metros ranked 11-20, we find Pittsburgh, Toronto, San Jose, Salt Lake City, San Francisco, Minneapolis, Portland OR, Nashville, Miami, and Los Angeles. In all, 64 metros were identified as possible locations for the new Amazon headquarters.

In its Request for Proposal, Amazon identified key factors such as a metro population greater than one million, a major airport nearby, a stable business climate, robust mass transit, a highly-educated labor pool, diverse population, low cost of living, and a high quality of life.

Boston and other Northeast locations were identified as likely sites, but their cost of living is some of the highest in the U.S. Also, these crowded cities make it difficult to accommodate an expansion as large as Amazon's.

Washington DC drew attention for several reasons. It's the seat of our political power and Jeff Bezos has a close personal connection with the area with a recent purchase of the city's largest home and ownership of the Washington Post.

Denver and Austin were also frontrunners. Austin is already the home of Amazon's newest purchase, Whole Foods, while Denver has a winning combination of a vibrant economy and a great quality of life not unlike Seattle. Plus Austin and Denver have plenty of land to expand and a lower cost of living than found on either coast.

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