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A couple of stories point to possible frontrunners in the competition to become the site of Amazon’s second headquarters city, dubbed HQ2.

• The Puget Sound Business Journal reports that Amazon is in the process of “hiring an economic development manager with ‘prior experience with economic incentives’ in Washington, D.C., one of the front runners in the Seattle-based company's search for a second headquarters.

“Responsibilities would include working on site selection, ‘new corporate initiatives, site expansion plans and requirements,’ and working with ‘state and community economic development, workforce and labor, taxation, and other key government agency officials, as well as chambers of commerce, utilities, and other key public/private stakeholder groups,’ according to the posting.”

The story notes that “Washington, D.C., is thought to be a front runner in Amazon's HQ2 search. Amazon named three finalists in the general region – Washington, D.C., Northern Virginia and Montgomery County, Maryland – and could opt to spread its HQ2 across the region to maximize potential incentives.”

Geekwire reports that “new statistics have emerged that paint Toronto as an attractive candidate for the company’s second headquarters.”

According to the story, “A new report from real estate services company CBRE ranks Toronto as No. 4 for tech talent out of 50 cities in the U.S. and Canada. The only city in the running for HQ2 that outranks Toronto is Washington, D.C., which is seen as a frontrunner in the race for Amazon’s $5 billion second headquarters. San Francisco is ranked first and Seattle, Amazon’s hometown, is second.”

This story reports that more than “240,000 workers comprise Toronto’s tech talent pool, a 51 percent increase since 2012, according to the report. The Canadian city is No. 1 when it comes to ‘brain gain’ according to CBRE. In other words, tech workers educated in Toronto tend to stay there after graduating.

“Toronto is also one of the cities where technology employers get the most bang for their buck. The average salary for a software engineer in Toronto is less than $100,000, compared with much higher salaries in Washington, D.C., Seattle, and San Francisco.”

Amazon has said that it has completed all its city visits, and plans to make an announcement this year.
KC's View:
GeekWire also notes that while “talent is one of Amazon’s most important criteria in deciding which city will become its second home,” the animosity between Amazon and the Trump administration could play a role. The story points out that President Trump has charged Amazon with “exploiting the U.S. Postal Service, underpaying taxes, and using the Washington Post (which Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos owns independently from the company) as a propaganda engine.”

One question, at least, is the degree to which politics will play a role in the Amazon HQ2 decision. I wouldn’t bet it being a deciding factor, but I could be wrong. Bezos and Amazon will make the decision, I think, based on what is best for the business.

Besides, life can take funny turns. It is at least possible that the lawsuit accusing Trump of violating the US Constitution’s emoluments clause by maintaining ownership of the Trump International Hotel in DC - it is said to play host to many foreign dignitaries looking to curry favor with the administration - is successful, forcing the Trump family to sell it. Just imagine if Amazon bought it, and turned it into a headquarters building. (It is, after all, the old Post Office building … so there’s a little bit of poetry there.)