5. 1 anniversary thing: Amazon's HQ2 idea is 1 year old
A year ago, Amazon ignited a coast-to-coast North American frenzy with a contest to host its second headquarters, a behemoth office park for up to 50,000 employees. Though it hasn't yet declared who won, Amazon itself has already triumphed.
- Axios' Erica Pandey reports: In an age when data is king, Amazon got 238 major cities across the U.S. and Canada to reveal many of their most intimate secrets, contained in often-voluminous applications for the prize — for free.
- "Amazon, a trillion-dollar company, just had taxpayers effectively subsidize one of the greatest economic development data bases ever put together," Richard Florida, a professor at the University of Toronto, tells Axios.
Companies have conducted headquarters site searches in the past, but none has come close to the scale of the Amazon HQ2 pursuit. That's because Amazon is "not just looking for HQ2," says Joe Parilla of the Brookings Institution. "They're looking for where they're going to put the next data center, the next logistics center, the next R&D facility."
Much of the quantitative data is publicly available, Parilla says. What matters is the qualitative data cities offered up — they let Amazon in on their wildest dreams.
- The sort of details that might be in a typical HQ2 application include plans for new train stations or shopping complexes — information the city's own residents wouldn't have, he says.
As an illustration of how secret this detail is, Montgomery County, MD, one of the 20 HQ2 finalists, responded to a FOIA request from the NYT with a 10-page list of the financial incentives it offered — with every line redacted.