Last week, Amazon released a list of 20 cities still in consideration for its second North American headquarters, HQ2. The process of choosing a location has become a reality-show-like contest, the winner of which can expect billions of dollars in investments and up to 50,000 jobs.
Experts from the Brookings Metropolitan Policy Program have written at length on Amazon’s decision-making process, the effect landing HQ2 would have on a community, and what Amazon’s criteria imply for all cities that want to compete in the global economy. We want to highlight some of the charts, graphs, and analysis from that research.
AMAZON SHOULD CONSIDER THE HOUSING MARKETS OF EACH FINALIST
Jenny Schuetz, a David M. Rubenstein Fellow in the Metropolitan Policy Program, analyzed the housing markets of the 19 U.S. locales on Amazon’s shortlist (Toronto, Ontario is the twentieth). She found that the cities generally fell into four categories—high priced and hard to build, stable and growth friendly, more capacity and older housing, and recently gentrifying—and that most cities are battling gentrification in some of their local neighborhoods. The chart below shows the 19 remaining U.S. locales and which of the four categories they fall into.
MANY OF AMAZON’S FINAL LOCATIONS DO NOT HAVE ROBUST TRANSIT INFRASTRUCTURE
According to Adie Tomer, another expert in the Metropolitan Policy Program, several of the cities still under consideration have congested commutes and few are transit-and-walking hubs. Tomer argues the shortlist defies expectations for transit infrastructure, but that “relative to Amazon’s other preferences, [transportation] is easier to change post hoc.” Below is a graph that displays the percentage of commuters who use public transit in 17 of Amazon’s final locations.
BEYOND AMAZON, AMERICA HAS URGENT REGIONAL PROSPERITY DIVIDES
Amazon’s competition has been entertaining to follow, but as Amy Liu and Mark Muro see it, “it is a major distraction from the glaring need for the country to systematically think about a much larger development problem—the nation’s gaping regional prosperity divides.”
In recent years, several large, primarily coastal metro areas have driven the majority of economic growth while smaller cities in the nation’s heartland have been left behind. Liu, director of the Metropolitan Policy Program, and Muro, a program senior fellow, make several suggestions on how policymakers could address the country’s spatial arrangement issues.
The chart below compares the weighted average income per capita of New York, San Francisco, and other “coastal superstars” cities to the bottom third of metropolitan areas.