Catching Amazon’s Eye – The New York Times

Amazon’s hunt for a second headquarters, after several months of publicity stunts and dangled perks from cities and regions vying to lure the e-commerce giant, has been narrowed to 20 options from 238 bids.

The company, which is based in Seattle, plans to invest $5 billion in development and create up to 50,000 jobs wherever it builds its newest hub. Among its criteria: more than one million residents, proximity to an airport, manageable commutes, diverse demographics, connectivity and local schools churning out potential employees.

With the kind of enthusiasm normally reserved for bids to host the Olympics, governors, mayors, business leaders and others have pulled together proposals promoting the potential of their cities and regions, sometimes going to outlandish lengths.

These are some of the places that caught Amazon’s attention.

(This article will continue updating throughout the day.)


Where a blizzard anywhere else is called a ‘dusting’

CreditErik Jacobs for The New York Times

Population: 673,000 in the city and 4.8 million in the metropolitan area, according to census data from 2016.

Schools: The caliber of local schools is impressive, including Harvard University, Boston University, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Tufts University.

Transit: Logan International Airport is 15 minutes from Boston’s financial district. Amtrak trains make dozens of trips between Boston, New York and Washington each weekday. And a third of Boston residents take public transportation to work, according to the city’s bid.

Perks: The proposal does not promise any specific financial incentives to help reel in Amazon. But Worcester, which is roughly an hour away from Boston, has pledged $500 million in property tax breaks spread over 20 years, according to The Boston Globe.

Other: Boston’s bid pointed to the more than 150 robotics companies in the area, the 3,200 people working in robotics jobs and the $200 million in private investments garnered by the field in the last year.


“We are excited to present the best of Boston to Amazon, with support from leaders in the educational, business and philanthropic communities and our neighbors in Revere, as the company considers locations for their second corporate headquarters in North America.”
— Mayor Marty Walsh


Where hot dogs are dragged through the garden and topped with a pickle

CreditDavid Kasnic for The New York Times

Population: 2.7 million in the city and 9.5 million in the metropolitan area.

Schools: The Chicago area is home to Northwestern, the University of Chicago and the Illinois Institute of Technology.

Transit: Chicago has some of the nation’s worst traffic. But officials boast that its extensive subway and commuter rail system run far more efficiently than networks in many major cities. O’Hare International Airport is one of the busiest airports in the world; Midway International Airport is another sizable hub.

Perks: Chicago promised roughly $2 billion in tax incentives and infrastructure spending, and $250 million for work force training, according to The Chicago Tribune. Officials identified 10 potential downtown, urban and suburban sites for Amazon’s facilities.

Other: The city’s association with violence — it led the nation in murders with 765 in 2016 — coexists alongside a cultural scene that features some of the most celebrated food and art in the country.


“With the country’s most educated population, diversified economy and connected transportation system — it is clear that Chicago is the ideal city for Amazon’s second headquarters.”
— Office of Mayor Rahm Emanuel


Where ‘mile high’ gets a new twist

CreditDavid Zalubowski/Associated Press

Population: 693,000 people in the city and 2.9 million in the metropolitan area.

Schools: Amazon could draw from Regis University, the University of Denver, the University of Colorado and other schools. The Colorado School of Mines in nearby Golden is known for its engineering and applied sciences work.

Transit: Denver International Airport has the third-largest domestic air service network in the country, according to a copy of the city’s bid obtained by The Denver Post. The region has added some 122 miles of commuter lines, light rail and bus services in the last 15 years.

Perks: If Amazon chooses a city or county in Colorado, it could potentially access more than $100 million in incentives, pulled from a state fund set up to recruit large employers and from a tax credit to encourage job growth, according to The Denver Post.

Other: Denver, with its reputation for progressive politics and outdoor activities, is popular with millennials. Google, Twitter, Oracle and IBM all have offices in Denver or in nearby Boulder.


“Companies of all shapes and sizes are discovering that Denver’s work force is second to none, with a bevy of young, college and technically-educated innovators having migrated here over the past two decades.”
— Mayor Michael Hancock


Where the best pretzels are soft

CreditMatt Rourke/Associated Press

Population: 1.6 million in the city and 6.1 million in the metropolitan area.

Schools: The employee pipeline to Amazon could come from the University of Pennsylvania, Temple University, Drexel University and other local campuses.

Transit: Philadelphia has hundreds of miles of bike lanes with an extensive bike-sharing network. The Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority is the fifth-largest transit system in the country.

Perks: Settling down in Philadelphia (or Pittsburgh) could net Amazon more than $1 billion in tax incentives.

Other: On its bid website, Philadelphia pitched itself as an affordable option for Amazon employees. The cost of living in the city is 18 percent lower than it is in Seattle, where median home prices are nearly twice as high.


“The location is central on the Northeast corridor, the talent pool is vast and Philadelphia has all of the amenities Amazon’s employees want, at a lower cost than other big cities.”
— Mayor Jim Kenney


Where a parking space can be saved with a chair

CreditJustin Merriman for The New York Times

Population: 304,000 in the city and 2.3 million in the metropolitan area.

Schools: Potential breeding grounds for future employees include Carnegie Mellon University, the University of Pittsburgh and Duquesne University.

Transit: The Pittsburgh International Airport lost thousands of jobs and hundreds of flights when a US Airways hub shut down in 2004, but nonstop destinations have nearly doubled in the last two years, with a $1 billion modernization plan set to kick off in 2019.

Perks: More than $1 billion in public aid from the state, according to The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

Other: Known for its arts scene and food boom, Pittsburgh is also developing a reputation as a tech hub. Uber has tested autonomous vehicles on the city’s streets, though the experiments have caused some conflict. Duolingo, a popular language app, is based there. Apple, Google and Facebook also have offices in the area.


“The Pittsburgh region has tremendous assets that should be appealing to any innovative business considering making its home here: a world-class talent pool, high quality of life at a low cost, a stable business environment, and significant capacity to grow with a commitment to ensuring prosperity for all.”
— Mayor William Peduto


The single finalist outside the United States

CreditIan Willms for The New York Times

Population: 2.7 million in the city and 6.2 million in the metropolitan area, according to Canadian census data from 2016.

Schools: The University of Toronto and the University of Waterloo are considered two of the best engineering schools in Canada; York University is also a highly regarded institution.

Transit: It is possible to fly from Toronto’s Pearson or Billy Bishop airports to Boston, Chicago, New York and Washington within 90 minutes.

Perks: No billion-dollar subsidies here, only reasonable incentives, according to a report from CBC.

Other: Google last year opened an artificial intelligence lab in the city, which is considered one of the places on the cutting edge of A.I. research. (One of Google’s corporate siblings has bigger ambitions there.) Toronto’s official proposal stresses its embrace of immigrants, noting that 51 percent of the city’s residents come from outside Canada.


We’ve got the talent — the Toronto region is already the third-largest tech sector in North America and added more new tech jobs in 2015 and 2016 than the N.Y.C. and San Francisco Bay Area combined. We’ve got the skills — Canada is an undisputed leader in A.I. and machine learning. We’ve got the world — the Toronto region is home to the most diverse work force in the world.”
— Mayor John Tory

Zach Wichter contributed reporting.

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