By Jami Gibson

Earlier this month, Amazon announced the 20 finalists for its HQ2 location. They are: Atlanta, Austin, Boston/Somerville, Chicago, Columbus, Dallas, Denver, Indianapolis, Los Angeles, Miami, Montgomery County, MD, Nashville, Newark, New York City, Northern Virginia, Philadelphia, PIttsburgh, Raleigh, Toronto, and Washington, DC.

If you recall, their RFP outlined basic preferences that narrowed the playing field for candidates, such as:

  • Metro area with more than one million in population
  • Access to mass transit on-site
  • Within 1-2 miles of major highways
  • Within 45 minutes of an international airport

There are the usual suspects – cities such as New York City, Atlanta, Dallas, Chicago, Los Angeles, Miami – huge urban centers that easily satisfy the aforementioned requirements. Yet, some relatively “smaller” cities have landed a coveted spot in the top 20, including Columbus, Nashville, Raleigh, and others.

Do these smaller metro areas have a competitive advantage over their larger counterparts? Perhaps a lower cost of living, lower cost of doing business, access to the necessary talent, and room for expansion? Those cities are large enough to have “big city” amenities that can support a company of Amazon’s size, but still maintain a high quality of life for its citizens.

Which city do you think will be the winner of Amazon’s HQ2? There have been plenty of analyses conducted by various parties to determine the best site. New York Times’s analysis found Denver to be the winner while Moody’s Analytics determined Austin would be the best pick.

We will find out sometime this year who emerges victorious!