Amazon HQ2 May Include a Second Round of Finalists

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According to a New York Times article, Amazon has completed site visits to all 20 candidate cities for its HQ2 search.

And this week the company announced expansion plans at two locations, Boston and Vancouver, that added a total of 5,000 tech jobs along with plans to build new offices in each city.

Is this the end for Boston or maybe even Toronto? Lumping Toronto in this question just because it is the only Canadian city on the list of 20.

Are these announcements consolidation prizes for not getting HQ2?

Since Amazon has existing tech hubs in these cities, does it make sense for them to expand those for now? While the company said HQ2 would include tech jobs, they could include very different roles from those two locations.

Another Round of Finalists?

There is speculation among observers of the HQ2 selection process that Amazon may announce another list of candidates or finalists before making their final location decision for HQ2.

Amazon used the word candidates when it chose the 20 cities from all the bids it received for its RFP. Was this deliberate?

In the media, the group of cities (or regions) was often called finalists, but in the official announcement by Amazon, they did not use that term.

There have been few details about the site visits Amazon performed as the company and the cities are trying to keep a low media profile as not to give away too much about the bids.

Some media reports about the visits seem to suggest that these visits mostly resembled tours, which may indicate Amazon is trying to get a real-world feel about the bids.

It does seem hard to imagine that Amazon would just pick one winner from the list of 20 and announce it out of the blue.

Let’s face it. they are going to negotiate the bids a bit, so at some point this would leak and just create a circus among the 20 bids.

Therefore, the speculation is now there might be at least one more round of the selection process. Call it the business end of the deal.

While Amazon in the RFP mentioned a lot of factors it would consider when choosing its HQ2 location, the word “incentives” was used 21 times!

Going into a second round to negotiate a deal with a smaller group of cities would make a lot of sense to iron out details and finalize the financial incentives package.

This kind of back and forth process is pretty typical in the business world for companies seeking to expand or move their operations.

But the size of the opportunity Amazon represents to a region and the way the company has taken a bit of “Game Show” approach to this process, creates a lot of public interest (and free publicity for Amazon).

The bottom line is that while the tech industry, including Amazon, often receive credit for running more socially responsible companies, this is a business decision.

With Amazon mentioning “incentives” 21 times in their RFP for HQ2, it shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone that they will heavily weigh their decision toward which cities offer them the best financial deal.

The other factors they mentioned in their RFP play a role, but they are likely only secondary considerations.

We’d love your thoughts on this selection process by Amazon. Head over to our Facebook Discussion Group or use the comments section below.

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