My Amazon HQ2 prediction


Ever since Amazon announced they would be establishing a dual headwaters, a virtual cottage industry of predictions and analyses has developed. Everyone has an opinion on what metro will be selected. Here are my thoughts on the subject:

My heart would love to see Detroit selected, as it would solidify its turnaround in the nation’s mind. Those of us living here in Michigan know the good news coming from Motown, but this would be the icing on the cake nationally. An interesting aspect is the cross-border cooperation between Detroit and Windsor on the bid. Throw in Ann Arbor just 40 miles away and you have a formidable candidate.

I think Amazon is looking for a location that is largely unaffected by changing climate or natural disasters like hurricanes, earthquakes, tsunamis, volcanoes, and the like. This criteria greatly benefits inland metros.

Standard of living and cost of living will also be important. The housing factor eliminates many cities on the east and west coasts.

Multimodal transportation is also important – probably Detroit’s and a lot of other Midwestern cites’ weakest competitive link. Meanwhile, in most cases, Midwestern cities haven’t sprawled exponentially like those in the South and West.

Given the various criteria cited by Amazon, in the media, and listed above, my short list of twelve (12) finalists includes the following cities with my projected winner highlighted in bold.

  • Austin-San Antonio, TX
  • Charlotte, NC, SC
  • Columbus, OH
  • Dallas-Fort Worth, TX
  • Denver-Boulder-Fort Collins, CO
  • Detroit-Windsor-Ann Arbor, MI, ON
  • Indianapolis, IN
  • Minneapolis-St. Paul, MN, WI
  • Nashville, TN, KY
  • Pittsburgh, PA, WV
  • Toronto-Hamilton-Kitchener, ON
  • Washington, DC, MD, VA, WV

While my heart will root for Detroit, my planner’s mind believes that the Twin Cities will win for the following reasons:

  • Great standard of living.
  • Open, welcoming, inclusive community.
  • Top notch schools.
  • Great multimodal transportation system.
  • Excellent airport and air service.
  • Centrally located near the middle of the continent.
  • Reasonable cost of living and affordable housing.
  • Year round athletic, recreational, and cultural activities.
  • Limited disruptions from natural disasters.
  • Strong, home-grown business community with lots of corporate leadership and philanthropy.

What are your thoughts on this subject and on my prediction?

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9 Responses to My Amazon HQ2 prediction

  1. Elizabeth Riggs says:

    Well-reasoned prediction, I believe. Access to fresh water and limited climate weirdness/natural disasters are two factors that will be important when looking at a 50-year+ investment of this magnitude.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. doug crawford says:

    You must be kidding!


  3. Christopher Harris says:

    Chicago, IL – Gary, IN
    Gary, Indiana is centrally located, access to the Atlantic via St. Lawerence Seaway, an underutilized recently expanded international airport, Class A Rails, 4 Major Interstates, cheap taxes, land yearning for redevelopment, under utilized workforce, an opportunity to reinvigorate a legacy city.


  4. Jason says:

    Interesting choice. I’ve always thought Minneapolis and Seattle shared many cultural similarities. Another significant way that Minneapolis is Seattle-like, and that could prove an advantage for AMZN’s HQ2: unlike most states, where the “University of” is in a college town (Madison, Ann Arbor, Chapel Hill, Boulder, etc.), the large state university is located in the heart of the state’s largest metro area. The University of Washington is in Seattle, and the University of Minnesota is in Minneapolis.


  5. Joan says:

    @ jason: good points. I would not think Austin on the list – too much already going on there, housing affordability issues, etc. Ditto DC area, though it is a large and evidently economically insulated area. Denver is too far west. We don’t know enough about Amazon’s weighing of top factors, such as whether a ‘similar’ company culture or the desire to BE the dominant company culture is very important. Research has shown that one key determinant in final company location decision making is often the CEO’s comfort with the city – apart from the financial location package – and that can be very subjective.


  6. Richard Baker says:

    I had Toronto, Minneapolis and Denver in my top 3. Minneapolis for many of the reasons you mentioned. The recreational opportunities are abundant, the state is working towards sustainability with wind, solar, etc. power goals, multi-modal transportation options, including biking, and a great education system. I include Toronto because of the University of Toronto is a top Computer Science program and they meet many other qualifications and Denver for quality of life and sustainability culture, etc.


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