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The Wall Street Journal has a story about how “time, money and potential lost opportunities … are at stake as finalist cities and states compete ferociously” to be the site of Amazon’s second North American headquarters, which could bring with it an estimated $5 billion investment in the winner’s local economy.

In addition to financial incentives, the story says, “cities and states have spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on site-selection consultants, quirky stunts and highly produced videos and graphics to win Amazon’s attention. Economic-development agencies can be privately or publicly funded, or some combination of the two. Some tapped private funds to help finance their HQ2 pitches … The time, money and projects that had to be set aside to focus on HQ2 proposals are the result of a highly unusual and public bidding process that some site-selection experts say puts too much pressure on cities to compete.”

Amazon got 238 initial applications, whittled that number down to 20 finalists, and has visited all those locations as it goes about making its final selection. It has said it is looking for a diverse workforce, a strong educational component, an efficient public transportation system and access to a quality airport.

The finalists are: Atlanta, Austin (Texas), Boston, Chicago, Columbus (Ohio), Dallas, Denver, Indianapolis, Los Angeles, Miami, Montgomery County (Maryland), Nashville, Newark, New York, Northern Virginia, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Raleigh (North Carolina), Toronto (Canada), and Washington, D.C.

Amazon has said that the 19 places that don’t get HQ2 “will be considered for additional projects, including warehouses or data centers that could create thousands of jobs.” Some of the cities that didn’t even make the finalists list have said that the process was a positive one since it allowed them to focus on what attributes would attract a progressive, growing technology company, and then get valuable feedback from the best of the breed.
KC's View:
Obviously we have no sense of what Amazon actually is thinking, though I have gotten emails from readers claiming to have inside information but no evidence of same.

Everybody’s guess is informed by their political opinions. Within hours of President Trump’s diatribe against Canada and its Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, I got two emails. One said that the dispute between the two countries would immediately cross Toronto off the list, and the other said that it might push Toronto over the finish line. (Trump also has taken his fair of shots at Amazon and its flounder/CEO, Jeff Bezos.)

It is a cardinal sin for a pundit to say this, but to be honest, I have no idea. My guess is that Boston and Austin are more likely than not, and that the Washington, DC/Northern Virginia entries have more than an outside shot. I’d guess Toronto is still in the mix, and I think that a blue state or community probably has an advantage over a red state/community. But I’m just guessing.