In fact, the Seattle company largely stayed away from the tech heavy West Coast. The shortlist includes: Columbus, Newark, Pittsburgh, Nashville and Northern Virginia, New York City, Boston and Washington, D.C. Also making the cut was Toronto, the only non-U.S. city on the list.
Amazon started a nationwide scramble last year when it said it was in the market for a new city to place its second headquarters. The new headquarters could be as large as 8 million square feet, cost as much as $5 billion to build, and lead to up to high-paying 50,000 jobs, Amazon said.
Enticed by the offer, and the accompanying potential for economic development, 238 cities in North America threw in a bid. The company said it would give preference to “stable and business-friendly” cities that can attract and retain technical talent. To qualify, the city had to be within a 45 minutes drive to an international airport and have mass transit system.
Among the hopefuls was a coalition of Bay Area cities — Concord, Fremont, Oakland, Richmond and San Francisco — who submitted a joint bid in October. This group tried wooing Amazon with potential sites such as the former Concord Naval Weapons Station, Coliseum City in Oakland, and San Francisco’s Hunters Point Shipyard. San Jose submitted a separate bid.
“Getting from 238 to 20 was very tough – all the proposals showed tremendous enthusiasm and creativity,” Amazon said in a tweet. It is unclear when the finalist will be announced.
For many in the Bay Area, Amazon’s choice to exclude the region brings relief. While there is a high concentration of talent, the tech boom is also associated with major problems: high housing prices, traffic congestion and a growing gap between the haves and haves-notes. Companies have trouble recruiting enough software engineers — a situation Amazon will be well aware of.
“Every city is like ‘Me! Me! Me!’ But they should be careful what they ask for,” James Thomson, a former Amazon executive turned e-commerce consultant, previously told The Chronicle. “If Amazon shows up with that many people … what is that going to do to the cost of real estate?”
Trisha Thadani is a San Francisco Chronicle staff writer. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Twitter: @TrishaThadani