Amazon has whittled down the list of candidates for its much-coveted second headquarters, delivering snubs to some cities in the western U.S. and including some surprise locations.
The list has now shrunk from more than 238 applications submitted by local officials in Mexico, Canada and the U.S. to a final group of 20. The carrot for candidates is the 50,000 high-paying jobs Amazon says the second HQ could bring.
Those surviving the cut include Dallas, Denver, Raleigh, N.C., and Washington, which, as The New York Times reports, “were considered shoo-ins from the moment Amazon announced the search, largely because of the attributes that the company said it was seeking for its second home.”
The criteria included a metropolitan area with a population of greater than one million and the ability to attract and keep strong technical talent.
But Amazon also selected locations not typically regarded as tech centers, such as Columbus, Ohio, Indianapolis, Miami, and Nashville, Tenn. The list skews heavily to the South and East Coast, with Amazon choosing only one city from the West Coast — Los Angeles — and omitting Vancouver, Portland, Ore., and San Francisco.
“Getting from 238 to 20 was very tough — all the proposals showed tremendous enthusiasm and creativity,” said Holly Sullivan, Amazon’s head of economic development. “Through this process we learned about many new communities across North America that we will consider as locations for future infrastructure investment and job creation.”
Amazon said in November that it needed a second headquarters because it would soon outgrow its hometown, Seattle, where its expansion has contributed to the city’s soaring cost of living and traffic congestion.
According to the Times, the process of selecting the finalists was conducted by an in-house team of about a dozen people including economists, human resources managers and executives who oversee real estate, with CEO Jeff Bezos also involved.
In the next phase, Amazon representatives will communicate more directly with finalist cities as they prepare to select a winner later this year. “Let’s close the deal and bring it home!” former Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe tweeted.