The 5 Cities Most Likely to Win Amazon's HQ2: GBH

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In September, Inc. (AMZN) sent cities across the U.S. scrambling to woo the e-commerce and cloud computing giant to become home to its second headquarters. The Seattle-based retail giant committed $5 billion to the effort, promising as many as 50,000 high-paying jobs and a broader positive impact on the local economy. (See also: Amazon Forces Suppliers to Play by Its Rules.)

Earlier this month, Amazon narrowed its list down from 238 bidders to 20 cities and regions, including one in Canada: Toronto. The list included major U.S. hubs such as New York City, Chicago, Los Angeles, and Washington, D.C., and well as smaller cities such as Raleigh, N.C.; Austin, Texas; and Columbus, Ohio. In response, GBH Insights technology analyst Daniel Ives came out with a prediction of the five cities he sees as having a better shot than the rest at winning over the tech titan.

And the Finalists Are ... ?

"We believe the top 5 likely cities for Amazon's second headquarters/HQ2 in order will be: 1. Atlanta, 2. Raleigh, 3. Washington, D.C., 4. Boston, and 5. Austin (only non-East Coast city in our Top 5)," Ives wrote in a note to clients Sunday. "While any of the other 15 cities on the list (with Pittsburgh and Philadelphia most likely) are clearly possible locations for HQ2, we ultimately believe these 5 cities appear to be the most viable candidates given all the competing factors."

Ives highlighted what he believes to be Amazon's five most important criteria for choosing a location for its new headquarters, set to be a "full equal" to its original and not a satellite office. GBH Insights expects Amazon to value a choice with "East Coast presence," a "thriving engineering/surrounding university infrastructure and student pipeline," a transportation hub with growth potential, a strong technology and pharma industry presence and a business friendly place with "attractive tax/economic long-term benefits."

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