Could Amazon pick new city after ditching NYC?

Amazon’s decision to cancel plans for a new headquarters in New York City reignited hope among cities that lost out on the massive economic development project.

Amazon said it won’t reopen the search process, choosing instead to continue with plans to add jobs at its other new headquarters in Arlington, Virginia, a major new operation in Nashville, Tennessee, and its 17 current offices and tech hubs.

That probably won’t stop mayors, governors, economic development officials and real estate developers from making a new pitch for the 25,000 jobs that had been promised to the borough of Queens.

“I think they’re getting a lot of calls today,” said Tom Stringer, leader of the site consultant practice for the corporate advisory firm BDO.

Maybe Dallas and Chicago could take another shot.

After all, the fact that Amazon is pulling out of New York suggests its plan was more fungible than the company let on.

“The one thing that’s predictable about Amazon is that they’re unpredictable,” said Jeffrey Shulman, a University of Washington business professor who has tracked the company’s presence in Seattle. 

Chris Wallace, president and CEO of the North Texas Commission, a public-private partnership, told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, “I think that the region would welcome these types of discussions.”

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A clerk reaches to a shelf to pick an item for a customerA clerk reaches to a shelf to pick an item for a customer order at the Amazon Prime warehouse, in New York. Amazon announced on Feb. 14, 2019 that it would no longer pursue a second headquarters in New York City amid local opposition. The year before, in January 2018, the tech giant announced it had narrowed down its potential site for a second headquarters in North America to 20 metropolitan areas. Here were the candidates.  Mark Lennihan, APFullscreenAtlanta, Ga.A jogger runs along a path in PiedmontAtlanta, Ga. A jogger runs along a path in Piedmont Park as the Midtown skyline stands in the background, June 3, 2015, in Atlanta. David Goldman, APFullscreenAustin, TexasWomen walk against the Austin skylineAustin, Texas Women walk against the Austin skyline as seen looking northwest from the Lakeshore area showing the Roy and Ann Butler Hike and Bike Trail on Lady Bird Lake, in Austin, Texas on Aug. 31, 2016. Ralph Barrera, Austin American-Statesman via APFullscreenBoston, Mass.A view of the city skyline during theBoston, Mass. A view of the city skyline during the Head of the Charles Regatta on Oct. 21, 2017 in Boston, Mass. Maddie Meyer, Getty ImagesFullscreenChicago, Ill.Sailboats practice in front of the downtownChicago, Ill. Sailboats practice in front of the downtown Chicago skyline during practice for an America’s Cup World Series sailing event on June 10, 2016. Kiichiro Sato, APFullscreenColumbus, OhioDowntown Columbus, Ohio is viewed fromColumbus, Ohio Downtown Columbus, Ohio is viewed from across the Scioto River on Dec. 2, 3003. ROBERT DEUTSCH, USA TODAYFullscreenDallas, TexasThis Jan. 14, 2011, file photo showsDallas, Texas This Jan. 14, 2011, file photo shows highway IH-30 traffic with the Dallas skyline in the background. Tony Gutierrez, APFullscreenDenver, Colo.A general view of downtown Denver onDenver, Colo. A general view of downtown Denver on April 11, 2015. Chris Humphreys, Chris Humphreys-USA TODAY SportsFullscreenIndianapolis, Ind.The Circle Centre mall  in Indianapolis,Indianapolis, Ind. The Circle Centre mall in Indianapolis, Ind, is seen on August 4, 2017. Kelly Wilkinson, Indianapolis Star via USA TODAY NetworkFullscreenLos Angeles, Calif. General overall view of the downtownLos Angeles, Calif. General overall view of the downtown Los Angeles skyline and the Harbor Freeway (Interstate 110) on Jan 10, 2018. Kirby Lee, USA TODAY SportsFullscreenMiami, Fla.The Brickell Key skyline is seen at duskMiami, Fla. The Brickell Key skyline is seen at dusk in downtown , Miami on March 23, 2015. Erik S. Lesser, EPAFullscreenMontgomery County, Md.This Monday, July 31, 2017,Montgomery County, Md. This Monday, July 31, 2017, file photo, shows the Discovery Communications headquarters in Silver Spring, Md. Discovery Communications, the company that operates the Discovery Channel, Animal Planet, TLC and other popular cable channels, announced Tuesday, Jan. 9, 2018, that it plans to relocate its global headquarters from Maryland to New York City, in 2019. Manuel Balce Ceneta, APFullscreenNashville, Tenn, A general view of the downtown NashvilleNashville, Tenn, A general view of the downtown Nashville skyline and the Cumberland River on Oct. 16, 2017. Kirby Lee, USA TODAY SportsFullscreenNewark, N.J.In this Monday, Oct. 16, 2017, file photo,Newark, N.J. In this Monday, Oct. 16, 2017, file photo, New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker, right, speaks while New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie stands behind him during an announcement in Newark, N.J. New Jersey lawmakers have signed off on $5 billion in tax breaks to Amazon in an effort to convince the company that Newark would be the best location for the company’s planned second headquarters. Seth Wenig, APFullscreenNew York, N.Y. The Manhattan skyline towers over NewNew York, N.Y. The Manhattan skyline towers over New York harbor on Oct. 16, 2017 in New York City. Spencer Platt, Getty ImagesFullscreenNorthern VirginiaJuly 4th Fireworks from the Iwo JimaNorthern Virginia July 4th Fireworks from the Iwo Jima Memorial in Arlington, Va. on July 4, 2017. Michael Owens, USA TODAYFullscreenPhiladelphia , Pa.Clouds pass over the SchuylkillPhiladelphia , Pa. Clouds pass over the Schuylkill River and city skyline on Dec. 3, 2015, in Philadelphia. Matt Rourke, APFullscreenPittsburgh, Pa.Clouds hang over the skyline of downtownPittsburgh, Pa. Clouds hang over the skyline of downtown Pittsburgh, the Rachel Carson Bridge, and the Allegheny River on March 18, 2016. Gene J. Puskar, APFullscreenRalegh, N.C.The North Carolina State Capitol in Raleigh,Ralegh, N.C. The North Carolina State Capitol in Raleigh, N.C. is seen on July 24, 2013. Gerry Broome, APFullscreenToronto, CanadaFireworks explode over the TorontoToronto, Canada Fireworks explode over the Toronto skyline, during the opening ceremony for the Pan Am Games in Toronto, Canada July 10, 2015. Rebecca Blackwell, APFullscreenWashington, D.C.The Capitol is seen at sunrise, inWashington, D.C. The Capitol is seen at sunrise, in Washington on Oct. 10, 2017. J. Scott Applewhite, APFullscreenInterested in this topic? 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“The region remains very attractive for Amazon and other headquarter relocations,” Wallace said. “Our current and future ready-skilled workforce, our education and transportation infrastructure and low regulatory environment are all great assets.”

Any potential new suitor would need to learn lessons from the mistakes made on both sides of the issue in New York, Stringer said.

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Opinion: Losing Amazon HQ2 bad for NYC

Amazon still committed to this area: Amazon names Arlington County, Va. one of its two new headquarters

Political blowback on the tax incentives pledged to Amazon for the proposed operation in the Long Island City neighborhood of Queens contributed to the deal’s collapse.

Concerns about the negative effects of Amazon’s growth on its hometown of Seattle, including housing affordability and transportation issues, also cast a cloud over the so-called HQ2 plan in a gentrifying area of Queens.

“Anything is possible: today was the day a group of dedicated, everyday New Yorkers & their neighbors defeated Amazon’s corporate greed, its worker exploitation, and the power of the richest man in the world,” Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., a leader of the Amazon project opposition, said Thursday on Twitter.

John Schoettler, Amazon vice president for real estate and facilities, left, joins New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, center, and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio during a news conference Tuesday Nov. 13, 2018, in New York. (AP Photo/Bebeto Matthews) (Photo11: Bebeto Matthews, AP)

Amazon should have included more officials in the planning process from the beginning to avoid a backlash, while New York officials should have been more inclusive in their negotiations, Stringer said.

“New York really fumbled the ball on the 1-yard line in the fourth quarter of the Super Bowl. And Amazon should have known better,” Stringer said.

Anything is possible: today was the day a group of dedicated, everyday New Yorkers & their neighbors defeated Amazon’s corporate greed, its worker exploitation, and the power of the richest man in the world. t.co/nyvm5vtH9k

— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) February 14, 2019

 

Amazon’s own description of its about-face suggests that the company believes it was ambushed after it had secured support from Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Mayor Bill De Blasio.

Amazon said that it “requires positive, collaborative relationships with state and local elected officials who will be supportive over the long term” and that too many city leaders “oppose our presence and will not work with us to build the type of relationships that are required to go forward.”

Those statements suggest that any would-be Amazon hopeful should dampen its enthusiasm if there are any signs that landing the company would cause too much local consternation, Shulman said.

Amazon will no longer locate a headquarters in the Long Island City neighborhood of Queens in New York City. (Photo11: DON EMMERT, AFP/Getty Images)

“They’ve shown that both economic subsidies and community buy-in matter to where they channel their employee growth,” he said. “Doing another search could actually create more backlash, so you might see them pursue economic subsidies and more community buy-in by more slowly growing their satellite offices.”

The company initially said it wanted to go somewhere with strong talent, high quality of life and solid mass transit options. Those qualities would still apply to a new suitor.

BDO’s Stringer said it’s too soon to say whether Arlington and Nashville can handle most of the 25,000 jobs promised to New York, or whether Amazon will “spread it around” to other sites.

Here are four cities that fell short in Amazon’s initial bidding process that could take another shot at landing the new headquarters:

1. Dallas

Pros: Pro-business environment. Plenty of space. Strong local airport. 

Cons: Amazon may not want a corporate feel.

2. Chicago

Pros: Centrally located. Strong local talent. Two major airports nearby.

Cons: High taxes. Regulatory thicket. Tough competition for workers.

3. Newark, N.J.

Pros: Not too far from New York City. Low cost of real estate. Big tax incentive deal.

Cons: Poorly developed tech center. Struggling schools.

4. Boston

Pros: Strong tech center. High quality of life. Large existing Amazon operation.

Cons: Expensive. Activists could have similar negative reaction as New York.

Follow USA TODAY reporter Nathan Bomey on Twitter @NathanBomey.

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