Amazon held calls with multiple cities whose requests for proposals it turned down, according to the Wall Street Journal. On the calls, it let the cities know where they fell short, and why they weren’t selected. And reportedly, the cities are really taking the feedback to heart, by accelerating new transportation and jobs initiatives. Hello constructive criticism!
Amazon began its HQ2 location search process in 2017. In September of last year, it put out a request for proposals from cities about where Amazon should locate its secondary headquarters, boasting that the new headquarters could bring 50,000 high-paying jobs to the region.
The request outlined detailed requirements such as tech talent, green buildings, public transportation, travel hubs, and more. Amazon narrowed down the list of 238 applicants to 20 finalists in January 2018.
Cincinnati, Sacramento, Orlando, and Detroit are among the cities that Amazon called to explain why it just wasn’t that into them, according to the Wall Street Journal. In response, Detroit has reinvigorated a ballot initiative for a public transportation network that connects more suburban communities to the city center. Cincinnati, Sacramento, and Orlando are all putting renewed effort into programs that promote tech industry job training, specifically citing the Amazon rejection to bolster the initiatives. In the future, larger pools of local technology talent could be a draw for whatever the next HQ2 proposal could be.
There is some skepticism that cities should be twisting themselves in knots to please a major corporation. With limited development resources, why not focus on supporting local entrepreneurs and new businesses, instead of already prosperous corporations, the criticism goes.
But the HQ2 selection process has been unusually transparent, and apparently forced a sort of reckoning for cities about what it can do to improve opportunity and quality of life for its citizens.
And hey, maybe making urban centers attractive to successful companies, and supporting new talent and local businesses, aren’t mutually exclusive.