What Amazon Said, What Amazon Meant

In September 2017, Amazon announced that it was planning to set up a second headquarters. It published a "Request for Proposal" that began:

Amazon invites you to submit a response to this Request for Proposal (“RFP”) in conjunction with and on behalf of your metropolitan statistical area (MSA), state/province, county, city and the relevant localities therein. Amazon is performing a competitive site selection process and is considering metro regions in North America for its second corporate headquarters.

The RFP suggested that within broad parameters, the search was wide-open. It is full of comments like " All options are under consideration" and "We encourage testimonials from other large companies" and "Tell us what is unique about your community." The quick overview of its requirements looked like this:

In choosing the location for HQ2, Amazon has a preference for:
  • Metropolitan areas with more than one million people
  • A stable and business-friendly environment
  • Urban or suburban locations with the potential to attract and retain strong technical talent
  • Communities that think big and creatively when considering locations and real estate options
HQ2 could be, but does not have to be:
  • An urban or downtown campus
  • A similar layout to Amazon’s Seattle campus
  • development-prepped site. We want to encourage states/provinces and communities to think creatively for viable real estate options, while not negatively affecting our preferred timeline

Several hundred cities heard what Amazon said, and sent in proposals. Many of those were no-hopers, of course. Still, now Amazon has announced its choices: New York (technically Long Island City) and DC (technically Arlington, Virginia). Wow, some really radical open-minded out-of-the-box thinking there! It seems as if a more accurate list of criteria for Amazon's Request for proposal might have had three elements.

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Daniel Robertson 9 months ago Member's comment

This article hits the nail on the head. The whole "contest" was a lot to do about nothing. Just a marketing gimmick to get Amazon in the news and to get the "REAL" contenders to up their offerings by making them think there was more competition than there really was. $AMZN