On the hunt for a location to build its second headquarters, retail juggernaut Amazon announced the names of 20 potential cities it has shortlisted from 238 applicants, on Thursday (Jan. 18).
There were seven core conditions that Amazon required aspiring cities to meet in order to qualify as applicants.
First: The applicant city had to be a metropolitan area with over a million residents.
Second: A steady and conducive business environment was another prerequisite.
Third: It was imperative that the city was within 30 miles of a population center.
Fourth: The location had to be within a 45-minute driving distance from an international airport.
Fifth: One- to three-mile proximity to major highways and arterial roads was another requirement to meet the qualification criteria.
Sixth: The sixth major condition was access to mass transit routes
Seventh: There had to be a provision for up to 8 million square feet of office space for future expansion.
Amazon also had some optional preferences, meeting which would improve the chances of the contending cities. These included direct flights to New York, San Francisco, Washington, D.C., and Seattle – where the company has its HQ1 – as well as proximity to major universities.
Here’s the list of the 20 finalists.
- Atlanta, Georgia
- Austin, Texas
- Boston, Massachusetts
- Chicago, Illinois
- Columbus, Ohio
- Dallas, Texas
- Denver, Colorado
- Indianapolis, Indiana
- Los Angeles, California
- Miami, Florida
- Montgomery County, Maryland
- Nashville, Tennessee
- Newark, New Jersey
- New York City, New York
- Northern Virginia, Virginia
- Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
- Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
- Raleigh, North Carolina
- Toronto, Ontario, Canada
- Washington, D.C.
The lucky winner that will become the home of Amazon’s proposed HQ2 will be announced by the end of the year.
Lucky because the company has pledged 50,000 jobs at the new headquarters with an initial investment of $5 billion in the city it finally picks, as well as up to 8 million square feet of development.
With the kind of job and money incentives on offer, it will have to be a hard-fought competition between the finalists, something that Amazon could be looking to take advantage of, in terms of bargaining for extra perks like subsidies, tax holidays and the likes.
For all you know, Amazon may have already finalized a much shorter list but is playing out this extended game for favorable media coverage as well as the possibility of squeezing out better offers from a longer list of contenders.
Here are some interesting promotional campaigns that competing cities have already undertaken.
Stonecrest, a suburb of Atlanta, Georgia, pledged 345 acres of land to Amazon to establish its very own city around its new headquarters
Sun Corridor, a Tucson-based economic development company in Arizona, looking to push the city’s bid tried to gift Amazon a cactus measuring 21 feet but it was rejected as it went against the retailer’s corporate gifts policy. The giant cactus ended up at the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum.
A Pittsburgh-based sandwich shop chain offered free sandwiches to Amazon workers if the company selected the city as the location for its HQ2.
In another blatant promotional gimmick, Kansas City mayor Sly James bought 1,000 Amazon products and donated them to charity. Not only that, he wrote 5-star reviews for all of them with positive Kansas City attributes mentioned with each review.
Here’s another innovative one; Birmingham, Alabama, sent out pre-generated tweets through Amazon dash buttons it built around public places along with huge Amazon boxes.
Jeff Bezos founded Amazon.com on July 5, 1994, initially setting up his business in his garage, not unlike Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook fame, but that’s a different story.
What actually inspired and pushed him into founding Amazon, leaving a lucrative job at a New York City hedge fund, was the “rapid growth in internet use.”
Bezos referred to it as the “regret minimization framework,” which basically means he wanted to capitalize on the internet boom at the right time and not regret the delay in joining in sooner.
Another factor that propelled him toward the Amazon idea was the U.S. Supreme Court ruling at the time that mail order companies were exempt from collecting taxes in states where they did not have a physical presence, such as offices, warehouses or any other physical property directly or indirectly related to the business.
Headquartered in Seattle, the company was initially named “Cadabra” by Bezos, changing it to “Amazon” a year later. The humor behind the name change is that a lawyer happened to have misheard the name as “cadaver” which, as we all know, means corpse or a dead body.
The story goes that Amazon was named after the mighty Amazon River, “exotic and different,” which matched Bezos’ vision of making his company different, exotic and the biggest in the world.
From its rather humble beginnings as an online bookstore, Amazon, as we all know, has grown into an “electronic commerce and cloud computing company,” the largest internet retailer in terms of total sales and market capitalization and continuing to expand.
Of course, the growth of Amazon into what it is today went through different stages of diversification – from selling books online to DVDs, CDs, video downloading and streaming, Bluerays, MP3 downloading and streaming, audio books downloading and streaming, electronics, software, video games, furniture, apparel, food, toys, jewellery – you name it and they have it delivered to your doorstep! Amazing Amazon!
It does not end here; Amazon is also into manufacturing consumer electronics such as Amazon Kindle e-books, Fire tablets, Fire TV, it’s hit Alexa-enabled speakers, to name a few, in addition to being one of the world’s largest providers of cloud computing infrastructure service.