Believe it not, in about six weeks, a full year will have passed since the idea of Amazon HQ2 and its big juicy fruits (50,000 jobs! $5 billion in construction!) sent city leaders and economic development types into self-promotional tizzies from Bangor to Chula Vista.
Amazon promised the HQ2 derby winner would be announced in 2018, and with the months ticking away, we’ve half-jokingly peppered a well-known Amazon spokesman—who previously offered a phone interview—for insights on an announcement timeline and where the selection process generally stands. (Crickets so far, but we’ll be sure to update this post with any earth-rattling exclusives!)
Until then, it’s worth noting a few HQ2-related curiosities from recent weeks. Especially the ones that make Atlanta look awesome.
GeekWire, a tech-focused news site, opened a poll to readers asking which of Amazon’s 20 finalist cities they’d prefer to live in.
Of more than 2,000 GeekWire respondents—ostensibly a relevant demographic to the types that Amazon hires—the majority said they’d most like to call Raleigh home. (That result seemed to shock the pollsters).
Not far behind was Atlanta. And then Austin. Which seemed to indicate, as GeekWire put it, that tech-savvy readers were in “a Southern state of mind.”
Based on those results, Forbes tapped experts who posited that Atlanta is vastly more suited to handle an HQ2 influx than the Raleigh area, which has only about one-fourth of metro Atlanta’s available housing and median home prices about $70,000 higher, per the National Association of Realtors.
“From a housing affordability and availability standpoint, there’s no question that Atlanta is a more attractive option for the new Amazon headquarters,” Sean Black, cofounder and CEO of Knock.com, told Forbes. “In the current market, there’s just no way all those employees would be able to find homes in Raleigh right now.”
But the GeekWire poll isn’t the only indication that “RaleighWood” might be gaining ground.
A Fortune magazine story recently highlighted data indicating that low housing costs, strong schools, scant crime, and doable property taxes could give Raleigh the biggest advantage of the finalist bunch, followed by Atlanta.
In a localized, highly scientific poll conducted in May to gauge Atlantans’s overriding opinions on HQ2, more than 32 percent of about 2,400 voters said they were still enthusiastically pulling for Atlanta to score the economic Big Kahuna and “shock the world.” It was the most popular answer by a significant margin.
Conversely, another 32 percent (combined) voted that they’re fearful of what Amazon could mean to housing costs around Atlanta; that the whole selection process reeks of a scheme; that they’re pulling for any other city but Atlanta, or that they frankly don’t give a damn.