At RealClearMarkets Allan Golombek considers the criteria Amazon says it will use in determining where it will open its new joint headquarters:
Anyone looking for proof of the overwhelming importance of human talent in today’s economy should take a glance at the criteria Amazon is using in selecting a site for its new joint corporate headquarters.
Amazon has stated that to be even considered as the home of its second corporate headquarters, a city needs a million-plus metropolitan population, mass transit, a strong higher education system, a large technically fluent workforce, and the ability to attract and retain skilled workers. In other words, they want immediate access to the kind of workforce they need to compete, targeting software development engineers, accountants and administrative personnel, with many of the jobs paying $100,000. Like almost all companies making location decisions these days, Amazon is also looking for financial inducements from government. But while a city may feel it is necessary to offer financial incentives to buy itself a place on the short list, that will probably not be sufficient to leap to the top. Before opening the vault, or deciding how wide to open it, governments should consider that to snag a corporate headquarters and the jobs and prestige that come with it, a city must possess other assets. In a time of growing specialization and deployment of sophisticated technologies, increasingly the most important asset is people.
Understandably, just about every major city is vying for Amazon. If I were Amazon’s management, I’d pick Atlanta.
No city on the West Coast gives Amazon anything they don’t already have. San Francisco, Los Angeles, etc. are out. Denver, Phoenix, ditto.
New York, Boston, Philadelphia, and Washington are too expensive. Atlanta has everything Amazon says it’s looking for, reasonably priced housing, a good lifestyle plus the benefit of improved access to Europe, Latin America, and Africa. It’s a good pick.