WASHINGTON – Only 20 cities remain in competition for Amazon's second headquarters and the 50,000 jobs it will bring.
Now comes the difficult part for the finalists, and for Amazon. Based on the cities that made the cut, and what the company said to some of the cities that did not, the company is likely to scrutinize six key criteria when making its final call. He plans to announce his decision later this year.
The 20 cities include Austin, Texas; Atlanta; Boston; NY; Washington DC; The Angels; and Nashville, Tennessee.
Here's what's important:
n TALENT, TALENT, TALENT
Among all Amazon's needs, highly skilled workers are at the top of the list. The company has ventured far beyond retail and shipping to cutting-edge technologies, including artificial intelligence, robotics, drones and voice recognition for its home speaker, the Echo.
That will probably give an advantage to cities that already have large technology sectors, such as Boston, New York, Washington, D.C. and Raleigh, North Carolina, all of which were on Amazon's list.
"They will want to see that in the current workforce, but they will also want a community that can come together and organize that in a short time," said Alan Berube, principal investigator of the Metropolitan Policy Project at the Brookings Institution. . That means strong relationships between local businesses, community colleges and universities.
Amazon executives bluntly told officials in Kansas City, Missouri, that the lack of highly skilled technology workers in the region is costing them a place on the final list, according to Tim Cowden, CEO of the Area Development Council. Kansas City
n SIZE MATTERS
The State of Connecticut applied for HQ2, including those proposed for Hartford and Stamford. But it was said that the cities were not big enough.
"We received positive comments from Amazon officials, but at the end of the day we did not have a metropolitan area large enough for this particular proposal," said Governor Dannel Malloy.
The smaller cities on the list, such as Raleigh, Nashville and Indianapolis, could be challenged by the size of Amazon's expected needs. Nine of the 10 largest meters in the country are on the Amazon list.
"Even among the biggest places on the list, the market for technology workers would be transformed by the new demand of 50,000 workers," said Jed Kolko, chief economist at Indeed, a job-listing website .
Denver, Pittsburgh, Austin, Indianapolis, Nashville, Raleigh and Columbus, Ohio, all among the top 20, have populations smaller than the approximately 3.8 million in Seattle. This could make it difficult for these areas to provide sufficient technical, managerial and financial talent of the first category.
n QUALITY OF LIFE
Not all the 50,000 workers have to be located at the moment in the site that Amazon chooses. The company said its 50,000 hires will occur between 10 and 15 years, and clearly hopes to attract talent from elsewhere. Amazon says it wants a city with amenities that future employees want to move to.
That includes everything from bike lanes to fast Internet connections and mobile phone to "recreational opportunities," according to Amazon's request for proposals.
That could help Nashville, with its music scene, or Denver, with its proximity to the Rockies. But it could also benefit cities with cheaper housing and lower overall costs, such as Pittsburgh, Indianapolis, Atlanta and Philadelphia.
"What will attract people more than anything else is an attractive job with a high salary, especially if high salaries are not consumed by the high costs of housing," Kolko said.
n HIGHER EDUCATION
To ensure a supply of highly skilled labor in the future, Amazon said in its request for proposals that "a strong university system is required "
Columbus is the home of the state of Ohio, while Nashville has Vanderbilt. Pittsburgh has Carnegie Mellon, which houses the main artificial intelligence and robotics programs.
n AIRCRAFT, TRAINS AND BUSES
One thing that Indianapolis has in its favor, Berube noted, is that city residents recently approved an additional tax to inject millions of dollars in buses and light rail. Most of the other finalists have extensive public transport systems, said Tom Stringer, general manager of BDO Consulting, who directs the practice of site selection for the firm.
A large international airport in 45 minutes is also critical, particularly for frequent flights to Seattle and beyond. That could be an obstacle for smaller cities like Columbus, Indianapolis and Pittsburgh.
Not everything will depend on objective criteria. Newark may well have landed on the list, at least in part, because both the state of New Jersey offered $ 7 billion in tax breaks and other incentives.
That could inflict pain in the Washington, DC region, which has three locations on the list: the city of Washington, the suburbs of Montgomery County, Maryland and northern Virginia, a collection of counties south of the city. The company could play all three face to face, Berube said.
Toronto, the only city outside the United States to make the cut, has said it will not offer tax cuts or other subsidies.