With the finish line of HQ2 drawing closer, Amazon’s metro region deathmatch took an unexpected turn today which indicated there would be no single winner.
The competition to host HQ has long been overshadowed by concerns over strained infrastructure and a year of cities prostrating themselves in increasingly embarrassing fashion for the favour of Jeff Bezos. By even playing, every entrant had already lost this perverse prisoner’s dilemma of economic subsidies – but in this case, “no single winner” is far more literal. Reporting by the Wall Street Journal, later confirmed by New York Times, suggests the proposed 50,000 employee base of operations will instead be split between two of the finalists.
As for the other 200+ cities who submitted proposals, well, now Amazon has a rough idea of how much they’re willing to pay for a few more jobs – data that’s sure to come in handy in the very near future.
The first is Crystal City, a neighbourhood in Arlington, Virginia. As long rumoured, it’s within spitting distance of Washington, DC, where Amazon increasingly has business, some of it lobbying, but more crucially providing cloud computing support for government agencies like the CIA and the Department of Homeland Security. Amazon continues to vie for the Pentagon’s $10 billion Project JEDI cloud contract against rivals like Microsoft and Oracle.
And the second, well. It’s goddamn Long Island City, Queens. An already crowded, unaffordable, rapidly gentrifying neighbourhood with ready access to plenty of other neighbourhoods that are likely to become crowded, unaffordable, and gentrified as a result. Amazon projected the average salary of HQ2 workers to be over $100,000, just about double the median household income in the city. This is to say nothing about the impact half an HQ2's worth of Amazonians will have on New York’s ageing transit systems, which are not in the greatest shape.
When inklings of a multi-city deal were first floated earlier this week, Dallas was reported to have been one of the three cities potentially receiving Bezos’s favour. Gotta say, Texas is sounding like a really nice place to live. [WSJ; NYT]
Featured image: Cliff Owen (AP)