Last week, Amazon announced its 20 finalists for its second headquarters, nicknamed HQ2, and the response was immediate and overwhelming. Cities that made the top 20 were elated and eager to remind everyone exactly why their location looked so good:

• “We are excited to learn that Atlanta has been included on Amazon’s short list,” tweeted Georgia governor Nathan Deal. “This has been a cooperative effort by the entire region, and we truly believe that Metro Atlanta has the talent, transit, and logistics that provides the best location for Amazon’s second headquarters.”

• “Austin is a special city and Amazon is a special company,” wrote Austin, Texas’ mayor, Steve Adler in a public letter to Amazon posted on his website. “I firmly believe that Austin and Amazon can help each other achieve solutions to our biggest challenges. Even as you assess our community’s greatest assets, I ask you to look at our community’s greatest challenges as an opportunity to help craft a story for Amazon and for Austin that will be told for a long time.”

• “As a thriving city with a talented and diverse workforce, culture of innovation, and opportunity for all, I see no better city than Boston for Amazon to call their second home,” tweeted Boston mayor Marty Walsh, as part of an excerpt from a larger video addressing Amazon that he posted on YouTube.

• “L.A. is the perfect place for a company like Amazon to find talented workers and an environment that nurtures growth and innovations,” observed Los Angeles mayor Eric Garcetti in an LA Times story published shortly after the list was released.

The 3 Markets that Could Gain the Most

Of course, every public official had a response, some more carefully crafted and widely distributed than others. Director of Economic Research Javier Vivas, however, spent his time slightly differently. Vivas took a close look at the housing markets of the top 20 markets, and concluded, “The impact is likely to be more material for smaller markets and those equipped to handle the growth [associated with HQ2].” He then narrowed the list down to three markets that were equipped to handle that growth, in his opinion, and also small enough to experience a dramatic impact from the headquarters’ arrival.

“From a housing perspective, Pittsburgh, Indianapolis, and Raleigh, North Carolina, all offer relative affordability and less inventory constraints, and they would benefit from a new wave of jobs,” Vivas said. He added, “New York, Los Angeles, Denver, and Boston are markets that have already seen a fair share of growth and inventory challenges, and affordability would be further constrained.”

Holly Sullivan, Amazon’s head of economic development, made a rare public statement about the selection process. “Getting from 238 to 20 was very tough,” she said. “All the proposals showed tremendous enthusiasm and creativity. Through this process, we learned about many new communities across North America that we will consider as locations for future infrastructure investment and job creation.”

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  • Carole VanSickle Ellis

    Carole VanSickle Ellis serves as the news editor and COO of Self-Directed Investor (SDI) Society, a membership organization dedicated to the needs of self-directed investors interested in alternative investment vehicles, including real estate. Learn more at or reach Carole directly by emailing

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