Last week, Amazon announced the 20 cities on its "shortlist" for where its new headquarters will be hosted. While the list of cities for HQ2 isn't exactly short, it's down a whole lot from the 238 cities across 54 states, provinces, districts and territories across North America who submitted proposals to the tech giant.
The new facility will cost at least $5 billion to construct and operate, and will create as many as 50,000 high-paying jobs.
"Getting from 238 to 20 was very tough - all the proposals showed tremendous enthusiasm and creativity," Holly Sullivan of Amazon Public Policy said in a statement. "Through this process we learned about many new communities across North America that we will consider as locations for future infrastructure investment and job creation."
Read on to discover all the cities on the shortlist to be considered for Amazon's HQ2.
Atlanta was the number one pick of gambling site Paddy Power and Sperling's BestPlaces. Moody's listed Atlanta second behind Austin, Texas. Experts say Atlanta's cost of living, talent pool and access to the world's busiest airport make it an attractive option. But one major downside is traffic congestion.
Atlanta did not make details of its bid public, but Mayor Kasim Reed told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution in October that it will be "the most aggressive economic attraction package that the state of Georgia has ever put forward."
Austin, which is also home to Amazon-owned Whole Foods, is also a solid contender. The city already has a booming tech sector and giants like Apple, Google, Facebook and Microsoft have offices there. Meanwhile, there are 425,000 college students in the region, according to the Austin Chamber of Commerce, which would give Amazon a strong base for recruiting new employees.
A day after the shortlist was released, Paddy Power increased Boston's odds of being gifted HQ2, putting it at 3-to-1 odds while sinking Atlanta and Austin to 7-to-2 odds.
"We've seen a surprising level of interest in [betting on] the Amazon HQ market, despite our customers being UK and Ireland based," a spokesman for the gambling site told CNN Money.
In its proposal, Chicago officials included 10 sites in the area for HQ2, eight in the city and two in the suburbs. The state of Illinois, Chicago and Cook County teamed up to offer more than $2 billion in incentives. The proposal was also narrated by William Shatner, who played Capt. James T. Kirk in the original Star Trek TV series and movies — a move that surely caught Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos' eye, as he's a huge fan of the franchise.
Colin Sebastian, an analyst at investment bank Baird, said he is surprised that cities without major airport hubs — such as Columbus — are on the list, considering that was one of Amazon's main asks.
But an analysis from Trulia puts Columbus as one of Amazon's best bets if it's looking closely at housing costs.
Dallas mayor Mike Rawlings opened up about why Dallas is a good candidate for HQ2.
“We are really kind of soul sisters to Amazon, think about how they’ve grown in the last 10 to 15 years, that’s us. We’ve created more jobs in America then any city in the United States, we know how to keep costs low, our cost of doing business is 12% lower than the medium,” Rawlings told Stuart Varney on “Varney & Co.”
The accessibility of Dallas and the technological advantages it has over all the other competitors are two reasons the mayor said will put the city above the others vying for the e-commerce giant’s attention.
Within days of Amazon's request, Denver was picked by The New York Times for the best city for HQ2.
But there were multiple lists that did not include Denver as a top choice. The city didn't make the top five in a Wall Street Journal analysis.
But the city's biggest knock — not being in an Eastern time zone, which 14 finalists are — may not be as big of an issue as speculated.
"If you look at the maps, we fall in the middle and a little left," said Sam Bailey, vice president of economic development at the Metro Denver Economic Development Corporation. "If they were only looking for an East Coast city, they wouldn't have included Los Angeles, Chicago and Denver."
Indianapolis might, on its face, be the most surprising and unlikely contender for Amazon’s HQ2.
But Gur Jeff Holzmann, managing director of iintoo Investments Ltd in New York, said Indianapolis is no joke in the Amazon sweepstakes or as a tech hub.
Holzmann says if Amazon focuses on labor pool (especially technology talent), costs, tax breaks and how much it can leverage from a state and region, then that works against big markets like New York, D.C. and Los Angeles and works to the advantage for cities like Indy.
Los Angeles was the only West Coast locale to make the cut. Cities throughout Los Angeles County teamed up for the bid, according to the Los Angeles Times. Considering Amazon's headquarters is located not too far away in Seattle, the move to focus elsewhere was expected.
Miami officials may believe they have a shoe in the door, as Bezos graduated from a high school in Miami, but Paddy Power puts the tropical city at 20-to-1 odds of winning — making it the city with the longest odds on the list.
The Washington, D.C. suburb is one of the most affluent counties in the country, according to The Baltimore Sun, and has one of the highest percentages of residents with postgraduate degrees.
Plus, Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan (R) will offer more than $3 billion in tax breaks and grants and about $2 billion in transportation upgrades to persuade Amazon to bring its second headquarters and up to 50,000 jobs to the area, The Washington Post reports.
Colin Sebastian, an analyst at investment bank Baird, said he is surprised that cities without major airport hubs — such as Nashville — are on the list, considering that was one of Amazon's main asks.
Nashville saw itself as an underdog in the bidding process, according to The Tennessean, but the city chamber says it's been in that position before, most recently to get a Major League Soccer team.
Located about a half-hour drive from New York City and roughly 90 miles from Philadelphia, Newark is already home to several Amazon distribution centers that employ 5,500 and are hiring more workers, The New York Times reported.
Newark offered space in existing office buildings downtown for the first phase of HQ2, according to the Times. The second and third phases could be built on vacant land or Amazon could pick from three planned projects.
Politicians and local representatives wrote a letter to Bezos boasting that New York City has more than 9,000 startups, 105 higher-learning institutions and more Fortune 500 companies than any other city in America.
The city pitched four business districts to Amazon (Midtown West, Long Island City in Queens, Brooklyn Tech Triangle and Lower Manhattan), according to the New York Business Journal.
A plus noted for New York City is a tech workforce of almost 300,000.
The Washington, D.C., suburbs bleed into more rural areas. Officials from the northern counties in the state joined forces to make their bid.
Officials from Loudoun and Fairfax counties pitched a 26-acre site that straddled the counties, according to the Washington Business Journal, and Alexandria pitched a building that’s getting a major makeover.
Philadelphia's economic development agency spent $160,000 on the city’s bid, according to The Philadelphia Inquirer. For all the cash spent on the proposal, officials have not publicly disclosed incentives offered to Amazon. However, at least one official said Pennsylvania planned to offer more than $1 billion in tax incentives, the Inquirer reported.
Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto argues that his city is one of the most cost-effective cities to do business.
“We are one of the most affordable cities in America and are able to provide greater cost savings than the large subsidies other states are putting up. In Pittsburgh we have one of the lowest average home costs in the country around $100,000 and that’s a quality home. The Midwest is the west coast of the east coast, but we don’t have the costs and the expenses that come with it,” Peduto said on FOX Business’ Countdown to the Closing Bell.
The News & Observer reported that making the HQ2 list buoyed local spirits after the recent loss of the massive new Toyota-Mazda joint automotive plant to Alabama. Local officials are worried about its lack of transit, but said with a system planning in the early stages, Amazon could help frame it.
Plus, the region surrounding Raleigh is home to research universities including North Carolina State University, Duke University and University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
The only Canadian locale on the list, the Toronto region included charts in its bid that boasted of its diversity, safety, affordability and economic drive. “There’s no better place to do business than Canada,” said a letter included in the bid.
Canadians' take on all this is that "America's turbulent political climate could doom or potentially boost" Toronto's shot at landing HQ2.
The Washington, D.C., metro area won three spots on the list as D.C. and parts of Virginia and Maryland each area submitted their own bids. And while the area boasted about having three contenders, local officials and business executives acknowledged that the region "has vulnerabilities" that include infighting on issues such as how to fund its Metro transit system.
Experts have said Amazon could view D.C. favorably because it would put the tech company closer to lawmakers. Also, Bezos owns The Washington Post.