Amazon’s hunt for a second headquarters, after several months of publicity stunts and dangled perks from cities and regions vying to lure the e-commerce giant, has been narrowed to 20 options from 238 bids.
The company, which is based in Seattle, plans to invest $ 5 billion in development and create up to 50,000 jobs wherever it builds its newest hub. Among its criteria: more than one million residents, proximity to an airport, manageable commutes, diverse demographics, connectivity and local schools churning out potential employees.
With the kind of enthusiasm normally reserved for bids to host the Olympics, governors, mayors, business leaders and others have pulled together proposals promoting the potential of their cities and regions, sometimes going to outlandish lengths.
These are the places that caught Amazon’s attention.
Where the rare prospect of snow brings chills
CreditKevin Liles for The New York Times
Population: 472,000 in the city and 5.7 million in the metropolitan area.
Schools: Georgia Tech, Emory University, Georgia State University, and Morehouse and Spelman Colleges are in the city. The University of Georgia is about 70 miles away.
Transit: The airport is, by some metrics, the largest in the world. There are rail and streetcar systems, but most residents depend on the sprawling network of interstates. Atlanta’s traffic jams are notorious.
Perks: Gov. Nathan Deal said he would call a special legislative session to work out an incentives deal if a location in Georgia was among the final three contenders.
Where the barbecue is the world’s best, or at least right up there
CreditStacy Sodolak for The New York Times
Population: 947,000 in the city and two million in the metropolitan area.
Schools: The University of Texas’ flagship campus, which enrolls more than 51,000 students, is in the city. St. Edward’s University, a Roman Catholic institution, is also in Austin.
Transit: Austin’s airport has flights to most major American cities and to Europe. The city also has a commuter rail line, but most people use cars to get around.
Perks: “I still not have heard any conversations about offering incentives,” Mayor Steve Adler said at a Thursday news conference. He said there needed to be “a very open and transparent community conversation about Amazon and all these related issues.”
Where a blizzard anywhere else is called a ‘dusting’
CreditErik Jacobs for The New York Times
Population: 673,000 in the city and 4.8 million in the metropolitan area, according to census data from 2016.
Schools: The caliber of local schools is impressive, including Harvard University, Boston University, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Tufts University.
Transit: Logan International Airport is 15 minutes from Boston’s financial district. Amtrak trains make dozens of trips between Boston, New York and Washington each weekday. And a third of Boston residents take public transportation to work, according to the city’s bid.
Perks: The proposal does not promise any specific financial incentives to help reel in Amazon. But Worcester, which is roughly an hour away from Boston, has pledged $ 500 million in property tax breaks spread over 20 years, according to The Boston Globe.
Other: Boston’s bid pointed to the more than 150 robotics companies in the area, the 3,200 people working in robotics jobs and the $ 200 million in private investments garnered by the field in the last year.
Where hot dogs are dragged through the garden and topped with a pickle
CreditDavid Kasnic for The New York Times
Population: 2.7 million people in the city and 9.5 million in the metropolitan area.
Schools: The Chicago area is home to Northwestern, the University of Chicago and the Illinois Institute of Technology.
Transit: Chicago has some of the nation’s worst traffic. But officials boast that its extensive subway and commuter rail system runs far more efficiently than networks in many major cities. O’Hare International Airport is one of the busiest airports in the world; Midway International Airport is another sizable hub.
Perks: Chicago promised roughly $ 2 billion in tax incentives and infrastructure spending, and $ 250 million for work force training, according to The Chicago Tribune. Officials identified 10 potential downtown, urban and suburban sites for Amazon’s facilities.
Other: The city’s association with violence — it led the nation in murders with 765 in 2016 — coexists alongside a cultural scene that features some of the most celebrated food and art in the country.
Where buying patterns form ‘America’s test market’
CreditAndrew Spear for The New York Times
Population: Two million in the metropolitan area.
Schools: Ohio State University is the big wheel in town, with more than 66,000 students, but smaller schools abound.
Transit: The city beat out 77 competitors to win federal funding in 2016 to plan and build what the Department of Transportation’s Smart Cities Challenge project.
Perks: The city’s bid was created by Columbus 2020, the regional economic-development arm for an 11-county region, which has released few specifics.
Where even the Froot Loops and sheet cake are deep fried
CreditAllison V. Smith for The New York Times
Population: 1.3 million in the city and 7.2 million in the metropolitan area.
Schools: Southern Methodist University, home to George W. Bush’s presidential library, is in Dallas, and Texas Christian University is in nearby Fort Worth. The University of Texas has campuses in the suburbs of Richardson and Arlington.
Transit: The airport is one of the country’s busiest, but public transit fares poorly when compared with systems in other large cities. A high-speed rail line to Houston is in the works.
Perks: The city has not released details, but Mayor Mike Rawlings said in an interview Thursday that he believed local and state “incentives are going to be an important part of this.” He said the city was waiting to hear more from Amazon about the next steps.
Where ‘mile high’ gets a new twist
CreditDavid Zalubowski/Associated Press
Population: 693,000 in the city and 2.9 million in the metropolitan area.
Schools: Amazon could draw from Regis University, the University of Denver, the University of Colorado and other schools. The Colorado School of Mines in nearby Golden is known for its engineering and applied sciences work.
Transit: Denver International Airport has the third-largest domestic air service network in the country, according to a copy of the city’s bid obtained by The Denver Post. The region has added some 122 miles of commuter lines, light rail and bus services in the last 15 years.
Perks: If Amazon chooses a city or county in Colorado, it could potentially have access to more than $ 100 million in incentives, pulled from a state fund set up to recruit large employers and from a tax credit to encourage job growth, according to The Denver Post.
Other: Denver, with its reputation for progressive politics and outdoor activities, is popular with millennials. Google, Twitter, Oracle and IBM all have offices in Denver or in nearby Boulder.
Where a speedway was once part of a plan to promote baking powder
CreditStacy Able for The New York Times
Population: 855,164 in the city and two million in the metropolitan area.
Schools: The city can claim the University of Indianapolis, Butler University and Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis.
Transit: Getting around has meant mostly driving. But in 2016, voters approved a local income tax increase to fund transit improvements including a big expansion of bus service.
Perks: The city’s bid was put together by the Indy Chamber, an economic development group, in conjunction Indianapolis and Fishers, a nearby city, but few details have emerged.
Where the Hollywood sign is surprisingly remote for an Instagram shot
CreditMelissa Lyttle for The New York Times
Population: Four million in the city and 13.1 million in the metropolitan area.
Schools: The University of California, Los Angeles, proclaims the city’s name in its brand, but higher education also abounds at California State University Los Angeles and private schools like Loyola Marymount University and International American University.
Transit: Los Angeles defined the modern idea of long-distance commuting through a haze of car-exhaust smog, but is now building one of the most ambitious and expensive transit systems in the nation, funded by a 0.5 percent local sales tax approved by voters in 2016.
Perks: The city’s bid was formulated in conjunction with Los Angeles County, and has largely been kept secret for what a spokesman for Mayor Eric M. Garcetti said were competitive reasons. Gov. Jerry Brown also offered Amazon an incentive package on behalf of the state, including tax credits and a pledge to support the streamlining of permits, approvals and regulations.
Where Jeff Bezos is a local high school alumnus
CreditOscar Hidalgo for The New York Times
Population: Six million in Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach Counties, which submitted a joint application to Amazon.
Schools: The University of Miami is the best-known school in the region, which is also home to Florida International University in western Miami-Dade, Florida Atlantic University in Boca Raton and several other institutions.
Transit: Miami International, one of three airports in the South Florida region, leads the nation in international cargo service. But Miami also suffers from dreadful traffic. A new express train connecting Miami to Fort Lauderdale and West Palm Beach might offer some congestion relief.
Perks: The region has kept its application secret, but it proposed eight sites to Amazon: five in Miami-Dade, two in Broward and one in Palm Beach.
Other: Some local officials have been openly skeptical of Miami’s chances, citing the limited public transportation system.
Montgomery County, Md.
Where the county’s founders, like the nation’s, took action in 1776
CreditMichael S. Williamson/The Washington Post, via Getty Images
Population: One million.
Schools: The University of Maryland’s main campus is just over the county line in Prince George’s County. Johns Hopkins University is an hour drive away in Baltimore, and several other schools are even closer.
Transit: Montgomery County, home to the northern Washington suburbs of Bethesda and Silver Spring, is near three major airports and on the Metro system, where a new purple line extending service is under construction.
Perks: Montgomery County has not made its bid public, but it promoted a 60-acre site near a Metro stop.
Where songs celebrate rural life but a boom has appealed to urbanites
CreditShawn Poynter for The New York Times
Population: 684,000 in the city and 1.8 million in the metropolitan area.
Schools: Nashville is home to several private universities, including Vanderbilt, Lipscomb and Belmont. Tennessee State University, a historically black institution, is also in Nashville.
Transit: City leaders have urged a swift expansion of the public transportation system, which is less expansive than those in many other finalist cities.
Perks: City officials declined to comment on incentives.
Where Audible, the audiobooks seller owned by Amazon, is already based
CreditStephen Speranza for The New York Times
Schools: Rutgers University’s main campus is a 40-minute drive away, and Newark has a satellite campus. Princeton University is about an hour away. And New York — 30 minutes away on the PATH train — is home to numerous universities.
Transit: New Jersey Transit serves the city. The PATH train links Newark to New York’s subway system. And the Northeast Corridor is connected on Amtrak. The proposed Amazon site is near Newark Liberty International Airport, which is also a FedEx hub.
Perks: New Jersey offered Amazon about $ 5 billion in tax breaks over a decade if it creates 30,000 jobs and makes $ 3 billion in capital investments, under legislation signed by Gov. Chris Christie before he left office. Newark, New Jersey’s largest city, put up additional property-tax abatements and a payroll-tax break, together worth up to $ 2 billion.
Where the jungles are made of concrete
CreditVincent Tullo for The New York Times
Population: 8.5 million.
Schools: The city says it’s home to 105 “institutions of higher learning,” including major universities like Columbia University, New York University, the City University of New York and the State University of New York.
Transit: Few people want to drive, but the subway system — for all of its problems — is extensive, as are the bus and commuter rail options. Public transit is available into the three major international airports, Kennedy, LaGuardia and Newark Liberty.
Perks: New York did not offer special subsidies or tax breaks beyond the ones available to any company. It listed four possible neighborhoods for the headquarters: the West Side of Manhattan, Lower Manhattan, Long Island City in Queens and the Brooklyn Tech Triangle, which includes Downtown, Dumbo and Brooklyn Navy Yard.
Other: The city tops a study of cities best able to meet Amazon’s requirements, compiled by Anderson Economic Group, with Chicago second
Where the counties are among the nation’s most affluent
CreditAl Drago/The New York Times
Population: 1.8 million in Arlington, Fairfax and Loudoun Counties.
Schools: George Mason University is in Fairfax, with a number of other universities nearby. The University of Virginia, Richmond University and Virginia Commonwealth University are two-hour drives away.
Transit: Northern Virginia boasts two major airports, Ronald Reagan Washington National and Washington Dulles. Driving on and around the Beltway can be horrendous, but commuters can also take the Metro subway system and the Virginia Railway Express, a suburban commuter rail system.
Perks: Northern Virginia’s proposal included four potential sites, one each in Alexandria, Arlington County, Fairfax County and Loudoun County.
Where the best pretzels are soft
CreditMatt Rourke/Associated Press
Population: 1.6 million in the city and 6.1 million in the metropolitan area.
Schools: The employee pipeline to Amazon could come from the University of Pennsylvania, Temple University, Drexel University and other local campuses.
Transit: Philadelphia has hundreds of miles of bike lanes with an extensive bike-sharing network. The Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority is the fifth-largest transit system in the country.
Perks: Settling down in Philadelphia (or Pittsburgh) could net Amazon more than $ 1 billion in tax incentives.
Other: On its bid website, Philadelphia pitched itself as an affordable option for Amazon employees. The cost of living in the city is 18 percent lower than it is in Seattle, where median home prices are nearly twice as high.
Where a parking space can be saved with a chair
CreditJustin Merriman for The New York Times
Population: 304,000 in the city and 2.3 million in the metropolitan area.
Schools: Potential breeding grounds for future employees include Carnegie Mellon University, the University of Pittsburgh and Duquesne University.
Transit: The Pittsburgh International Airport lost thousands of jobs and hundreds of flights when a US Airways hub shut down in 2004, but nonstop destinations have nearly doubled in the last two years, with a $ 1 billion modernization plan set to kick off in 2019.
Perks: More than $ 1 billion in public aid from the state, according to The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
Other: Known for its arts scene and food boom, Pittsburgh is also developing a reputation as a tech hub. Uber has tested autonomous vehicles on the city’s streets, though the experiments have caused some conflict. Duolingo, a popular language app, is based there. Apple, Google and Facebook also have offices in the area.
Where major universities gave rise to the Research Triangle
CreditTravis Dove for The New York Times
Population: 458,000 in the city and 1.3 million in the metropolitan area.
Schools: Raleigh is home to North Carolina State University and is within a half-hour drive of Durham’s Duke University and Chapel Hill’s flagship campus of the University of North Carolina.
Transit: The airport serves a handful of international destinations, and voters recently approved a transportation tax to improve roads. There is bus service but no commuter rail.
Perks: City officials declined to discuss incentives.
The single finalist outside the United States
CreditAaron Vincent Elkaim for The New York Times
Population: 2.7 million in the city and 6.2 million in the metropolitan area, according to Canadian census data from 2016.
Schools: The University of Toronto and the University of Waterloo are considered two of the best engineering schools in Canada; York University is also a highly regarded institution.
Transit: It is possible to fly from Toronto’s Pearson or Billy Bishop airport to Boston, Chicago, New York and Washington within 90 minutes.
Perks: No billion-dollar subsidies here, only reasonable incentives, according to a report from CBC.
Other: Google last year opened an artificial intelligence lab in the city, which is considered one of the places on the cutting edge of A.I. research. (One of Google’s corporate siblings has bigger ambitions there.) Toronto’s official proposal stresses its embrace of immigrants, noting that 51 percent of the city’s residents come from outside Canada.
Where Jeff Bezos owns a newspaper, and a mansion
CreditAndrew Mangum for The New York Times
Population: 681,170 in the city and 6.1 million in the metropolitan area.
Schools: Georgetown University, George Washington University, Howard University and American University are among the schools in the district.
Transit: Navigating Beltway traffic is challenging, but the Metro system, despite declines in service and ridership, makes it possible to get around the city and to Ronald Reagan Washington National and Washington Dulles Airports.
Perks: Washington offered Amazon a zero-percent corporate tax rate for five years, and an exemption from state sales taxes on hardware and software, according to records obtained by WAMU, a public radio station. The city proposed four neighborhoods as Amazon locations: the Anacostia River around Nationals Park and the new D.C. United soccer stadium; behind Union Station; south of R.F.K. Stadium; and around the U Street and Shaw neighborhoods.
Other: Amazon’s founder, Jeff Bezos, who owns The Washington Post, bought the city’s biggest mansion in 2016, for $ 23 million in cash.
Zach Wichter contributed reporting.