For more than a year, few details about the selection process for Amazon’s second North American headquarters — beyond the tech giant’s own disclosures — saw the light of day. But with Amazon’s self-imposed end-of-year deadline approaching, reports are beginning to trickle out about which contenders have the best shot to land the vaunted economic development prize.
Amazon has “progressed to late-stage talks” with officials in Northern Virginia, New York City and Dallas, The Wall Street Journal reported Sunday. Citing “people familiar with the matter,” WSJ reports that talks appear to have cooled in some of the other finalist cities, including Denver, Toronto, Atlanta, Nashville and Raleigh.
Saturday, The Washington Post reported that Amazon is in serious talks to place HQ2 in Crystal City, Va. — just south of Washington D.C. and The Pentagon and next door to Ronald Reagan National Airport. The report — citing “people close to the process” — notes that Amazon is in discussions about how quickly it can move employees to the Northern Virginia area, possible buildings it could occupy and how the announcement will be made to the public.
Amazon representatives did not immediately return a request for comment Sunday night.
WSJ reports that a final decision hasn’t been made, negotiations are fluid and deals could always fall apart at the last minute. The HQ2 stakes are high, with the winning bidder becoming the home for 50,000 jobs and $5 billion in investment from Amazon. But WSJ’s sources believe that Amazon could announce smaller expansions in runner-up locations as well.
“Ultimately the decision will be made with intuition after gathering and studying a lot of data — for a decision like that, as far as I know, the best way to make it is you collect as much data as you can, you immerse yourself in that data but then you make the decision with your heart,” Amazon founder Jeff Bezos said at a conference in New York on Thursday.
At least one Amazon executive was irked by the sudden leaks that have emerged after Amazon and the cities it spoke to kept the HQ2 process close to the vest for so long. Mike Grella, Amazon’s director of economic development and public policy, slammed the leaker who allegedly tipped off The Washington Post in its report about Crystal City in a rare public rebuke.
Memo to the genius leaking info about Crystal City, VA as #HQ2 selection. You’re not doing Crystal City, VA any favors. And stop treating the NDA you signed like a used napkin. https://t.co/wqrZLqr8MQ
— Mike Grella (@MikeGrella) November 3, 2018