Amazon just dropped a major hint about where it wants its new headquarters to be

  • On Thursday, Amazon announced its short list of the 20 cities in the running for its second headquarters, dubbed HQ2.
  • Three locations near Washington, DC, appeared on the list.
  • That indicates Amazon may have selected DC as its ideal HQ2 location – but that doesn’t mean incentives couldn’t swing it somewhere else.

Amazon on Thursday announced its short list of locations for its new headquarters, dubbed HQ2, but it didn’t narrow it down much.

In line with expectations, the list has spots like Austin, Boston, New York, and Raleigh, North Carolina.

One surprise was the list’s focus on the Washington, DC, region. Three DC metro area locations made the list: DC proper, Northern Virginia, and Montgomery County, Maryland.

Northern Virginia and Montgomery County, which border Washington, DC, are the only proposals under consideration that are not from a major city. It also appears Amazon chose locations with proximity to DC – or ease of travelling there – in mind.

That may indicate Amazon has selected DC as its favourite city for HQ2.

The battle among the three locations is likely to be the fiercest, as they won’t be able to point to the region as a differentiating factor and must throw in their best incentives. No other three locations on the list are as close and have this degree of disadvantage.

There are a few other reasons Amazon may choose DC. It meets all the criteria it set for HQ2 – including those for transportation, education, workforce, and livability. Amazon has its lobbying operation set up in DC, and the company’s job openings in the city suggest the office is already expanding.

DC is already Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos’ home away from home. The billionaire bought the largest mansion in the city last year, and he owns The Washington Post. He splits his time running Amazon and The Post, The New York Times said in a recent profile.

While making its chief executive’s life easier probably isn’t No. 1 on the list for choosing HQ2’s location, all else being equal, it could swing the decision in DC’s favour.

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