Which Cities Are On The Inside Track For Amazon’s New HQ2?

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As Amazon decides where it will locate its much-anticipated “HQ2” second headquarters facility, the hundreds of cities that have formally tossed their names in the hat wait to hear whether their communities (and economies) are about to get a big boost—though some front-runners have emerged.

A total of 238 cities and regions across North America formally applied for consideration as HQ2’s home, and Amazon is expected to invest $5 billion in the HQ2 building project, which will create up to 50,000 high-paying jobs. Here’s a look at a few opinions on which cities may have the upper hand in the selection process:

  • The New York Times recently took the liberty of doing the heavy lifting for Amazon, narrowing down the entrants based on criteria such as job growth, labor pool and quality of life. The top four cities it came up with were Portland, Oregon; Boston, Washington, D.C. and Denver, with Denver coming out on top.
  • The Wall Street Journal took Amazon’s criteria, then interviewed site selection experts and people who know Amazon’s thinking on the matter and came up with a shortlist of their own based on the cities’ tech labor force, fiscal health, cost of living and college population, among other variables. The top three cities it came up with for HQ2, in order, were Dallas, Boston and Washington, D.C.
  • A study from Sperling’s BestPlaces combined predictions on where HQ2 would be located from 18 different outside sources, and came up with a ranking of its own based on that data. The top five cities it came up with: Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Philadelphia and Washington, D.C., in that order.
  • CNN Money came up with its own list of potential landing spots for HQ2 (though it didn’t go out on a limb to rank them in order). Its choices were Atlanta, Pittsburgh, Toronto, Dallas, Austin, Boston, San Jose and Washington, D.C.
  • Moody’s analyzed factors such as business environment, human capital, cost, quality of life and transportation among the competing cities and selected Austin as the top location, followed in order by Atlanta, Philadelphia, Rochester, N.Y. and Pittsburgh.
  • Finally, online bookmaker Paddy Power is taking bets on where Amazon will locate HQ2, with current odds favoring Atlanta (3-1). Austin, Boston and Toronto are all tied for second at 7-1 odds, for those who may be looking to wager on the outcome.

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