Amazon has just announced the twenty finalists for HQ2, a second headquarters for the giant company that's expected to create 50,000 new jobs and result in a $5 billion investment for the winner. And Denver made the list, besting more than 200 other applicants.
In its release announcing this development, Amazon doesn't rank the finalists. Instead, the firm simply lists them in alphabetical order.
They are: Atlanta, GA; Austin, TX; Boston, MA; Chicago, IL; Columbus, OH; Dallas, TX; Denver, CO; Indianapolis, IN; Los Angeles, CA; Miami, FL; Montgomery County, MD; Nashville, TN; Newark, NJ; New York City, NY; Northern Virginia, VA; Philadelphia, PA; Pittsburgh, PA; Raleigh, NC; Toronto, ON; and Washington D.C.
For the most part, political and business interests in Colorado have energetically pursued HQ2 through the proposal process even though negative effects will no doubt accompany positive ones. Last October, for instance, we published a study estimating significantly higher rent and increased housing costs in metro Denver should the Mile High City emerge victorious.
Westword readers have also expressed some trepidation about HQ2. Here are some examples from a November Amazon comment roundup:
Increased traffic — Check!
Higher housing and rent prices — Check!
More out of state cocks who don't know what the hell the far left lane is for — Check!
More people not paying for light rail — Check!
Higher prices at mediocre restaurants — Check!
More litter and trash in our open spaces — Check!
A 'fee' on crap to bypass TABOR — Check!
A sweetheart deal to Amazon and developers who don't really need it, and shaft local businesses that are struggling- Check!
50,000 new jobs equal at least 100,000 people, 100,000 more cars on crumbling roads, more douchebags from other places trying to get to the dispensary before it closes clogging up constricted roads, more auto accidents, more lives changed forever, more waiting to eat at subpar restaurants because you'll never get into the ones you really want to go to because there's 100,000 more people here. Crazy, no sensical rant now over. Amazon, stay elsewhere.
I notice the people who seem to be most vehement in opposing HQ2 are baby boomers who think moving here in the '80s makes them in charge. Even though baby boomers have destroyed the economy, passed TABOR, defunded infrastructure budgets, failed to fund the schools, and in their RNOs oppose any meaningful affordable housing.
Hopefully we won't see that Denverites have to shoulder Amazon's tax burden, while they add to our traffic woes and put smaller, better paying employers out of business. But in this environment, I won't hold my breath.
As for the process by which Denver made the cut, the company reveals that "Amazon evaluated each of the proposals based on the criteria outlined in the RFP [Request For Proposal] to create the list of twenty HQ2 candidates that will continue in the selection process."
In the coming months, the release continues, "Amazon will work with each of the candidate locations to dive deeper into their proposals, request additional information, and evaluate the feasibility of a future partnership that can accommodate the company’s hiring plans as well as benefit its employees and the local community. Amazon expects to make a decision in 2018."
Adds Holly Sullivan of Amazon Public Policy: "Thank you to all 238 communities that submitted proposals. Getting from 238 to 20 was very tough — all the proposals showed tremendous enthusiasm and creativity. 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."
Click for more details about Amazon's current Seattle headquarters and the latest about HQ2. Some of you will be thrilled with what you find there. Others will be even more nervous than you already are.