A new study from commercial real estate information company REIS puts traditional tech hubs like New York, San Francisco and Seattle at the top of the list of contenders to land Amazon’s second North American headquarters.
The study looked at data on public transportation, cost of living and doing business, quality of life amenities, the size of the tech workforce, access to higher education and tax policies to form its ranking. Based on the data, the top five were New York City, San Francisco, Washington D.C., Seattle and San Jose.
REIS then assumed that Amazon is looking for a location outside the West Coast, something an Amazon executive recently hinted at. That eliminates Amazon’s hometown of Seattle, which didn’t make its own bid for the project and instead worked with neighboring leaders on a regional proposal, and San Francisco, where Amazon is reportedly expanding. That leaves New York, D.C., suburban Virginia, New Orleans and Boston as the top contenders, according to the study.
Here is a look at the study’s top 10 HQ2 suitors, with each category scored as a percentage relative to the U.S. average.
The scoring reflects some of Amazon’s key requirements, such as proximity to major highways and forms of public transit, a business-friendly climate and a strong talent base. If Amazon looks at similar data points, it appears the retail giant could land in an already established tech hub that mirrors in some ways its hometown of Seattle, rather than a city it could lift up by establishing a major presence there.
New York and Washington D.C. are buoyed in the study by their superior mass transit systems, compared to the rest of the country. Seattle and San Francisco stand out due to their huge concentrations of tech employees.
Even with plenty of data, the study concludes that Amazon’s decision could still come down to which cities offer the biggest package of tax breaks. Or maybe a key executive connection, or a business tie-in.
“The location decision, however, could come down to factors not listed in this analysis,” the study concludes. “These measures include the tax incentives granted by the city/state, the “creativeness” of the location, other immeasurable qualitative features and/ or an underlying preference on the part of the decision makers for such things as access to skiing, a lake, river or ocean. Or the decision could be based on whether or not the decision maker owns a newspaper in the city.”