Denver Could Be Top Contender For Amazon HQ
Amazon plans to open a second headquarters in the U.S., and according to some analysts, Denver looks like a prime candidate to host it.
For several years running, Amazon has grown at an extraordinary pace in more ways than one. In terms of its financials, the variety of services it offers and the number of customers and employees it counts around the world, the e-commerce giant has come a long way from its humble beginnings. Now it's hoping to keep that winning streak going as it plans to open a second headquarters in the U.S., and according to some analysts, Denver looks like a prime candidate.
The company made the announcement Sept. 7 that it was looking to open another major administrative location that it said would be equal to its current Seattle headquarters in terms of size, amenities and importance. However, Amazon has not yet settled on a location, and is accepting proposals from state and local governments through Oct. 19.
According to the company's estimates, the new HQ would be a boon to whichever municipality is selected as its host. Amazon said it expects to spend some $5 billion to build and staff the new location, employing around 50,000 people over the next 10 to 15 years. But to win its favor, local governments will need more than luck - Amazon also listed several criteria it will look for in a new host city, which include:
- A sufficiently large and skilled labor pool.
- Robust transportation infrastructure, including roads, public transit and an airport.
- A local culture that meshes with the company's values.
- A "stable climate for business growth," likely including corporate tax incentives.
As Bloomberg contributor Conor Sen wrote , Amazon's hunt for HQ No. 2, with all the publicity and lofty goals, is already being compared to "the Olympics of corporate relocations." While numerous city governments are jockeying for a position in Amazon's rankings, only a few areas have been consistently named as top contenders by analysts and reporters. One of them is Denver.
Making the case
The New York Times poured over Amazon's eight-page RFP to make an objective prediction on which cities will most likely make the short list of HQ contenders. Starting with around 50 of the biggest U.S. metropolitan areas, the Times was able to take half of those out of the running immediately when accounting for their labor market. That included cities like Chicago, Pittsburgh and Detroit, which the reporters deemed too financially unstable. It then reduced that list again after finding cities where at least one out of eight workers is employed in technology, science or professional services.
Then reporters looked at quality of life, which can be hard to scientifically measure. According to the Times, though, this boils down to a combination of the cost of housing and local amenities. In looking to strike a balance between those two factors, the reporters eliminated seemingly attractive options like New York City and San Francisco, where property costs much more than the national average.
Getting down to the wire, the Times' analysis narrowed their selection to three cities based on transit infrastructure. This removed four heavily car-dependent locations from the running: Atlanta, Miami, Dallas and Austin. It also eliminated Portland, Oregon, since the reporters assumed Amazon would not want a second headquarters so close to its first one. At this point, the Times analysis zeroed in on the top three: Denver, Washington, D.C. and Boston.
In the end, the Times chose the Mile-High City as the most qualified pick for a new Amazon HQ based on its combination of a progressive lifestyle, relatively affordable housing and ample talent available from the local labor market and nearby universities. But it's hardly a shocking pick, considering Denver continues to be named near the top of the list in rankings for municipal job growth, population growth and more.
Although Denver has received high marks from others who are looking to make predictions based on the facts alone, the truth is perhaps more complicated. After all, Amazon has a reputation for surprises, so it stands to reason that its choice for a new location could hinge on certain values and corporate aspirations that are difficult to quantify. In any case, expect plenty more news to come out of what already promises to be an all-star event in the American business and political community.
If you need more information about banking in Colorado; please contact your local Vectra Bank