Atlanta is among the top 20 cities left standing after the first cut for Amazon’s HQ2, the e-commerce giant announced Thursday.
Amazon whittled down to the current list after receiving 238 proposals from across the U.S., Canada and Mexico.
Atlanta has consistently been cited by experts as a favorite thanks to its growing tech scene, well-connected airport, availability of transit and competitive cost structure for business. Atlanta is also home to the third largest concentration of Fortune 500 headquarters in the country.
Amazon says it will invest about $5 billion and create up to 50,000 jobs at HQ2, which it insists will be a fully functioning headquarters — not a satellite office.
Atlanta does face some Southern competition: Nashville, Tenn., was also shortlisted, as was Raleigh, N.C. Charlotte, sometimes seen as an Atlanta competitor, was not on the list. Miami did make the cut as well, though the southern Florida city generally isn’t seen as a direct competitor of Atlanta for corporate relocations.
Three cities in the Washington D.C. area survived, as did northern cities of Philadelphia, Pittsburgh and New York. No Mexican cities made the list. From Canada, only Toronto remains in the running. See the full list here
In a statement, the company thanked cities that poured their creativity into the pitches. Stonecrest, Ga., a new city on the eastern side of the metro Atlanta area, even proposed carving out the new city of Amazon, Ga., from its existing territory.
“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,” said Holly Sullivan, Amazon Public Policy.“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.”
Political and economic development leaders around the Georgia expressed optimism about the announcement.
“This has been a cooperative effort by the entire region, and we truly believe that metro Atlanta has the talent, transit and logistics that provides the best location for Amazon’s second headquarters,” said Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal. “We look forward to the next steps, and making sure our region remains at the top of the list.”
New Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms thanked all the stakeholders and partners that put the bid together, reviewing the city’s assets in a statement that culminated on a note of collaboration:
“Atlanta is known for our high quality of life at a relatively low cost. We are the city of trees, and we are a city of incredible culture, filled with artists, musicians and creators of all kinds.
Atlanta’s spot on this list is a testament to our city’s assets, including the strong working relationship between the City and the State. I am excited to move forward into this next phase of the process, and I look forward to continuing to work with Governor Deal, Commissioner Wilson, and all of our stakeholders to make sure Atlanta puts forth the strongest, most competitive bid possible.”
In a Tuesday speech at Kiwanis, Ms. Bottoms said only that she hoped to win the investment, and that she believes the city’s efforts to boost affordable housing and reach inclusive growth will make it more attractive to investors.
Mr. Deal, for his part,, said recently that he would call a special session of the legislature to discuss incentives for Amazon should Atlanta make the top three cities. Cities are expected to pull out all the stops to win one of the blockbuster investment announcements of the century.
Of the top 20, a Wall Street Journal analysis determined that Atlanta trails only Columbus, Ohio, and Indianapolis — two surprise contenders — in lowest average housing cost.