The search for a site for Amazon’s second headquarters has been narrowed down to 20 cities — and according to several experts, the frontrunner among them is Atlanta.
But it has some formidable competitors.
“I think that Atlanta is still the top contender, although the field is narrowing,” said demographic expert Bert Sperling. In November 2017, back when there were more competitors, Sperling also had Atlanta as number one. But now, he believes “things might be changing.”
Fourteen of the 20 finalists — including New York City, Boston, and Miami — are in the Eastern time zone. “That’s pretty tough to argue with,” he said of their location on the East Coast.
The D.C. metro area is notably desirable to Amazon, explained Sterling. He notes that Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos recently bought two mansions in Washington D.C., and more generally, it’s “the seat of political power.”
Still, Atlanta has “good affordability and plenty of space,” Sterling notes.
Atlanta sits at number one in other analyst predictions, too.
Daniel Ives, head of technology research at GBH Insights, has the following cities in his top five:
1. Atlanta, Georgia
2. Raleigh, North Carolina
3. Washington D.C.
4. Boston, Massachusetts
5. Austin, Texas
The primary factor here (save Austin) is an East Coast presence. “We’re big believers that a big East Coast presence is something that Bezos has been looking to get and the second HQ gets him there,” Ives said in an interview.
Ives doesn’t think Amazon will choose a major city like New York or Los Angeles. Amazon would simply be more significant in a smaller market — though one that still serves as a significant transportation hub.
“I can’t see them going to a major city,” said Ives. “In a smaller city, Amazon would basically become a central piece of that city’s infrastructure. New York and L.A. already speak for themselves.”
Cities like Atlanta, Raleigh, and Austin fit GBH’s analysis better.
Although, notes Sperling, Raleigh and Austin may have some political drawbacks.
“The whole political aspect, it is a fact of life,” said Sperling. He cites that Jeff Bezos disagreed with North Carolina policy on bathroom use for the LBGTQ community. Such a bathroom ban likely isn’t supported by many progressive Amazon employees. “It would be tough for Amazon to make that commitment and enter a state that isn’t open to views of the typical Amazon employee.”
Austin, the capital of Texas, could face a similar issue.
“I find it difficult to imagine Jeff Bezos sitting across the table from Ted Cruz,” said Sperling.