Seventeen cities have been shortlisted by Amazon for their second headquarters. Two are in New York and three in the D.C. metro. These are all great cities– none to be dismissed easily. But let’s break it down, metro by metro.
The first eliminations should be: Toronto, Miami, Columbus, Indianapolis, and Nashville
Toronto, being a Canadian city, would present NAFTA, national perception and international law issues. Out.
I love Miami so much, but that love will not protect it from being under water, literally, in 20 years.
Columbus, Indianapolis and Nashville are just not on the world stage at present.
Powerhouses: New York, Los Angeles, Chicago and Boston
New York, with its 300 years of supremacy, due to its great port, and the Erie Canal– is exorbitantly expensive, too elitist, and, unfortunately, will have to spend many billions just to survive sea-level rise in a decade and a half. Take away Newark, with it.
Los Angeles, with all its flaws and wonderment, unfortunately, is too likely to have a major earthquake, possibly with Seattle. (A terrifying fact, that few want to acknowledge may be the impetus for a second headquarters.)
Chicago, as magnificent as it is, has a multitude of problems, including a decreasing population; need not say more.
Boston, perhaps a great Amazon candidate, has terrible weather, very high costs and sea-level rise issues.
More importantly, Boston is not a welcoming city– it could not even agree to host the Olympics, though they were amply able. Neighbors are already fighting the proposed Amazon site. Not friendly. Amazon need not go where they are unwanted.
Amazon’s predilections: Washington D.C. and Texas
With three selected areas, Washington D. C. is obviously an Amazon favorite. The fact that Mr. Bezos owns the Washington Post and a magnificent Kalorama mansion with plans to have salon dinners… well, this is very difficult to argue against.
That is, if Bezos wants to spend all of his non-Seattle hours talking politics.
Dallas and Austin may be sentimental choices for Amazon, but Austin is, perhaps, too small to handle the massive rapid growth. Dallas is too suburban and too conservative at its core, and not very inclusive.
Remaining: Atlanta, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Raleigh, and Denver
As far as future great cities, I believe in these five rising stars.
Still, can small Raleigh, and the state of North Carolina, home to multitude mega-churches and many televangelists… become welcoming to all kinds of peoples which will make up America in the coming century? Not without difficulty.
Is Pittsburgh ready for the enormous growth Amazon will bring? And, does Amazon want to fight against multiple rivers and bridges in their new home city (Seattle traffic being burdened with too few bridges across too many bodies of water)?
Philadelphia/Denver? Great cities, but not really comparable to Atlanta, at present.
ATLANTA has very nearly all of the attributes Amazon desires.
Expected to be the 6th largest metro in the US in 2040, Atlanta has already been planning for massive growth– many years before Amazon proposed building a second headquarters.
They say: bad traffic. What important city does not have congestion issues? Atlanta has a major heavy rail system with light rail and BRT planned.
They say: too conservative. That’s a laugh. Have you been to Midtown or any of the exciting neighborhoods of central Atlanta?
Atlanta has always been the sole incredibly-liberal haven in the region, combined with business-friendliness. The top regional– and world-class– center for all of the arts, Atlanta truly knows how to have fun.
As the center of the Piedmont-Atlantic megalopolis, Atlanta possesses the major connector to the world, south of New York. Hartsfield-Jackson is the new Erie Canal.
At 1000 feet above sea-level, and away from all earthquake zones, Atlanta is geographically well suited for the future.
They say: too sprawling. Maybe, but everything you need is close by when you live and work in-town. The rapidly urbanizing suburbs are just icing on the cake… and you need not ever go there! Midtown was named one of the Great Neighborhoods in America by the American planning Association.
With fast-growing miles of bicycle infrastructure, many walkable neighborhoods closely surrounding its downtown, and covered with its incomparable tree canopy, Atlanta is rapidly becoming the future eco city of which others will aspire.
It is actually only lacking… in its perception.
Since moving to the left coast, I have realized that some Westerners have little understanding or appreciation of Atlanta– or any of the South, for that matter.
One would think that the birthplace of the Civil Rights movement, CNN and the world’s only home-grown Olympics would inspire some national appreciation.
However, many still think old south or Hollywood versions of reality. This is a very narrow-minded view that is being overcome with time and as Atlanta grows more prosperous.
Already, Atlanta is more well known internationally than most of the selected cities.
In reality, Atlanta was built by many Chicagoans and New Yorkers, as well as local Atlantans. It has been a national leader and cosmopolitan city for a half century or much more. It is no accident that, historically, the Federal Reserve Bank, CDC, many Fortune 500 headquarters and top universities were established in Atlanta, many years ago.
Today, Atlanta is one of the nations top growing tech centers, logistics capital, and a top film/media center which would well-serve Amazon.
Comparing assets to assets, few cities can compare to Atlanta at the present and, especially, Atlanta in the near future.
Come, take a look at Atlanta… You will love it, like we do.
Everyone is welcome.