Amazon, the world’s largest online retailer and fourth most valuable company in history, announced on Thursday that it had pared down its list of civic suitors from 238 to 20 in pursuit of a new home for its corporate headquarters. The big cut had internet gambling site Paddy Power adjusting its odds accordingly on who will land the coveted Amazon HQ2 facility.
Last year, Amazon revealed plans to spend $5 billion on a second headquarters, for 50,000 employees, somewhere to be determined in North America.
According to the Irish bookmaker known for its novelty bets, the new city favorite is Boston, Massachusetts, with 3-1 odds. (Previously Boston was at 8-1.) Beantown moves ahead of Atlanta, Georgia, whose odds dropped from 2-1 to 7-2, tying it for second with Austin, Texas.
Municipalities and states have been pulling out all stops to sweeten their potential offers for the behemoth online retailer. These incentives have included billions in tax incentives. Boston has proposed an “Amazon Task Force” to represent the company’s government interests, and a suburb of Atlanta has offered to change its name to “Amazon” and instate CEO Jeff Bezos as its permanent mayor.
The company said it was looking for a business-friendly area with more than 1 million residents and a pool of skilled technology workers. Other than that it was mum on what else would convince them.
The remaining 20 all meet these standards and seem to mostly be in the Midwest and Northeast. Los Angeles and Denver are the only two cities west of the Rocky Mountains still in contention. Amazon’s current headquarters are in Seattle, Washington.
According to Paddy Power, LA is a 20-1 longshot, and Denver has slightly better chances at 16-1.
CNBC made a list of the 20 cities and assigned letter grades to them using the criteria Amazon sought. None received an A, and only one got a B, and five a B-minus. Those contenders include Washington DC, Atlanta, Austin, Indianapolis, and Nashville.
The B grade went to Raleigh, North Carolina. But despite that city’s top score according to CNBC, its betting odds, like LA remained 20-1 on Paddy Power.
Thanks for Playing
Some of the towns had little chance of enticing Amazon, but that didn’t stop them from trying.
Kansas City Mayor Sly James gave five-star reviews to 1,000 random items on Amazon as a way to get recognized by the company. They didn’t make the second round and James told CNN Money that he was a little relieved.
“We competed well,” James said. “Something like Amazon doesn’t come free. There’s a cost. I think everyone was looking at the benefit and not the cost.”
Detroit was trying to improve not only its city but its reputation as a depressed area of the country. City leaders put together a 242-page proposal and a video that said “Move here, move the world.”
The Motor City did not advance to the next round.
“We would have loved to have made it into the next round for Amazon’s second headquarters,” Mayor Mike Duggan said in his city’s concession statement. “But everyone here is incredibly proud of the proposal we submitted.”
Las Vegas was also dropped from consideration, but didn’t seem to have much of a chance. The gambling mecca could not provide a worker pool that Amazon was requesting.