ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT

New rankings: Austin not among top 25 contenders for Amazon HQ2

Posted November 3rd, 2017

Not everyone seems to be sold on Austin as a contender for Amazon’s second headquarters.

After Amazon announced plans in September to build its $5 billion Amazon HQ2, market analysts, economists and publications were quick to name Austin as a top contender. The city’s young workforce, tech culture, flagship UT campus and livability were all listed as factors.

But a new top 25 ranking of HQ2 contenders by commercial Real Estate firm Reis Inc. left Austin out.

The firm ranked New York first, followed by San Francisco and Washington D.C., three cities with large but expensive tech hubs. No Texas city made the ranking.

Reis ranked locations based on public transportation access, cost of doing business, cost of living, concentration of professional jobs and tech jobs, quality of life and access to higher education and business taxes.

The firm said it used commercial real estate data, Bureau of Labor statistics, Census data, tax data and other economic sources to form its ranking.

In other rankings, Austin has fared well in most of the factors Reis listed besides public transportation access. Analysts say transportation could be the city’s biggest challenge in winning HQ2, which Amazon said it will announce sometime next year after sorting through 238 applications it received from cities in North America after its announcement.

Reis said it ranked New York first due to “its public transportation infrastructure and high quality of living amenities.”

“This analysis was purely data driven but it covers nearly every ‘decision driver’ mentioned in Amazon’s (Request for Proposal) and objectively sums a set of values that measures every indicator by metro as a percentage better or worse than the U.S. ,” Reis’ study says. 

Amazon said HQ2 will initially cover more than 500,000 square feet but build out to up to 8 million square feet, a similar figuret to its Seattle headquarters. The company said it will hire 50,000 employees for jobs averaging more than $100,000 in salary. 

Here are the top 10 locations in Reis’ rankings:

1. New York 

2. San Francisco 

3. Washington D.C.

4. Seattle 

5. San Jose

6. Suburban Virginia 

7. New Orleans 

8. Boston

9. Rochester 

10. Chicago 

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