Amazon's Seattle campus. (Photo: AP)
Amazon, as you may have heard, needs another base of operations. Rather than pick the best geographic location, Jeff Bezos dangled a substantial carrot in front of North America's metropolitan centres: $6 billion in investment, and up to 50,000 jobs.
Over 100 urban centres have already bent over backwards to submit their most enticing proposals to Amazon in the hopes that favourable subsidies, tax breaks, regulation reform or whatever else Big Orange wants will coax the Seattle-based megacorp to kickstart local economies blighted by financial crises, a withering manufacturing sector, and the scourge of the "gig" economy which Amazon itself has had no small part in fostering.
New York alone has pitched Brooklyn, the Bronx, Long Island, Albany, Buffalo, and Syracuse; California happily vies to host Bezos in Concord, San Jose, Oakland, Sacramento, Long Beach, or Irvine. Atlanta, Denver, Baltimore, Dallas, and Pittsburgh are also considered strong contenders. Experts and pundits have weighed in on which city would prove the most advantageous (for Amazon), with list after list after list of frontrunners piling up ahead of the October 19th due date -- but this is not one those lists.
Some cities, have thrown themselves -- out of desperation or to simply cash in on some easy PR from the local news -- into a fight they seem all but destined to lose. Most of these places don't even come close to meeting Amazon's proposal requirements.
Here are the cities that, while highly unlikely to win Amazon's favour, are showing the kind of moxy needed to crowd a field of wanton, race-to-the-bottom bidding likely to further income inequality in America.
Albuquerque, New Mexico
Real Bezos heads will recall that while the Amazon CEO grew up mainly in Texas, he was born in Albuquerque, a city many notable people (and companies like Microsoft) have left at one time or another. If birthplace were the sole deciding factor, it would be a shoe-in. Though small, it is home to sundry laboratories, an international airport, an upcoming Facebook data center, and double the national average of violent crimes.
Pros: Scientists; annual balloon fiestas
Cons: Minimal tech presence; the West Mesa Bone Collector remains at large
The city took out a $US9,500 ($11,842) ad in the New York Times on Monday, addressed to Mr. Jeff Bezos which begins:
Dear Mr. Bezos,
How are you? My name is Gary and I am a legacy city in the northwest corner of Indiana. I was born in 1906 and my parents were Elbert Gary and U.S. Steel.
It goes on to explain that Gary has withered away over the decades, it's best attribute being proximity to Chicago, a larger, healthier city which has also bid on HQ2.
Pros: Only one of these cities to have its own song in The Music Man
Cons: Anthropomorphizes itself in the third person
Whatever shot Tucson had, they blew it when an Arizona business called Sun Corridor ("a transformative economic development organisation" lol) gifted Amazon with a 6.40m Saguaro cactus earlier this week. Sure, cacti are A Thing in the American Southwest, but what do you even do with a thing like that? Maybe Sun Corridor's thinking was: "They will see this magnificent specimen and it will be a reminder -- I, Jeff Bezos, must have a headquarters in Arizona, the state where plants can hurt me."
— Amazon News (@amazonnews) September 19, 2017
Amazon promptly donated the cactus to a museum.
Pros: University of Arizona (Go Wildcats); a dry, dry heat
Cons: Is not the home of Arizona Iced Teas
Dallas, Austin, El Paso, and even nearby Grapevine are all frothing to put HQ2 in Texas. But then there's Frisco, around 900,000 residents shy of Amazon's population specs, and known mostly as the headquarters for notable tech company Jamba Juice. According to Mayor Jeff Cheney, Frisco is "a city that thinks outside the box," which is sort of like saying you "got creative" by doing your homework wrong.
Pros: Name easily mistaken for San Fransisco, but a fraction of the cost
Cons: Everything in the above video
Amazon already employs around 3,000 at a fulfillment center at River Ridge Commerce Center, a business park on the Ohio River. Its executive director is now bidding to put 50,000 more Amazons (Amazonians?) there as well. It's a semi-plausible, but Jeffersonville is what people who live in major metro areas might call, charitably, a town. Indianapolis, just three hours north, presents a more enticing option.
Pros: Close to Louisville; is the birthplace of Papa John's Pizza
Cons: No identifiable economy of its own; is the birthplace of Papa John's Pizza
A small city that basically functions as a company town for Boeing shouldn't be an ideal fit for Amazon, and to the best of our knowledge it hasn't submitted a formal proposal yet. However, Guy Palumbo, the state senator trying to float the idea, is a former Amazon senior manager whose political campaigns Bezos has donated to. Does he still have a financial stake in the company? We're just asking questions here.
Pros: Palumbo has a dog named Scooby; the goddamn Puget Sound
Understandably, Mayor Bruce Harrell wants to keep up appearances by proposing the new headquarters go in Seattle. But Amazon's got one of those there already. And beyond the chance to cover more geography, whatever offer Seattle can make to Amazon business-wise would have to navigate distinctions between whatever incentives the company currently receives and newer terms to compete with the hoard of cities all but begging for an Amazon base of operations. DOA, not gonna happen.
Cons: Absolutely anywhere else will cut Amazon a better deal
Brooklyn, New York
No matter how many experts claim Brooklyn is a frontrunner for HQ2, it isn't. There are few cities where 8 million square feet would cost more money, or where Amazon's promised salaries of up to $US100,000 ($124,656) would buy less. Sure the city writ large fits the bill, but Amazon doesn't want Brooklyn, and Brooklyn certainly doesn't want Amazon.
Pros: Marone! It's tha mothafuckin' Big Apple, baybee
Cons: Having to share a city with dicks like us