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Amazon has narrowed its shortlist of candidates for HQ2, its new corporate headquarters, to 20 cities in North America.

The cities still in the running are Atlanta, Austin, Boston, Chicago, Columbus (OH), Dallas, Denver, Indianapolis, Los Angeles, Miami, Montgomery County (MD), Nashville, Newark, New York City, Northern Virginia, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Raleigh (NC), Toronto and Washington, D.C.

Amazon has been soliciting bids for the project since last year, promising $5 billion investment and 50,000 jobs for the chosen metropolitan area. Cities have consequently been scrambling to tout themselves as the ideal location.

The sign on the front of the former Amazon.com HQ
Credit: simone.brunozzi (CC BY-SA 2.0)

The company’s current HQ is based in Seattle and contributed $38 billion to its economy between 2010 and 2016. HQ2 is expected to mirror its forebear in function rather than being a satellite office, and likewise will integrate into the city itself, as opposed to being a separate Google-like campus.

However, Amazon’s competition has been criticised for pitching city against city in order to get tax breaks and other incentives, as each city council eagerly tries to sweeten the deal. Newark, for example, has offered as much as $7 billion in tax incentives.

The new headquarters could also exacerbate issues like traffic congestion and a lack of affordable housing in the winning city.

Last year, 73 civic leaders from several cities and states penned an open letter to Jeff Bezos, Amazon CEO, urging for accountability, transparency, workers’ rights, the funding of affordable housing, and a tax pledge.

“You have your list of things you’re looking for from cities—but we live in these cities, and we’ve got some expectations of our own for Amazon,” the letter said.

“We love jobs, we love technology, and we love convenience—but what you’re looking for will impact every part of our cities. We built these cities, and we want to make sure they remain ours.”

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