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What Every Company Can Learn From Amazon's Search for a Second Headquarters

Here is the mindset you need to maximize the resources you have your disposal.


Amazon is one step closer to breaking ground on its second North American headquarters, which has been nicknamed HQ2.

David Ryder | Getty Images

This week, the company shared that from a massive group of 238 bids, it whittled down the group to just 20: Atlanta; Austin, Texas; Boston; Chicago; Columbus, Ohio; Dallas; Denver; Indianapolis; Los Angeles; Miami; Montgomery County, Md.; Nashville; Newark; New York; Northern Virginia; Philadelphia; Pittsburgh; Raleigh, N.C.; Toronto and Washington, D.C.

Related: These 5 Cities Pulled Out All the Stops to Get Amazon's HQ2. They Didn't Make the Cut, But We Salute the Attempt.

In Amazon's original statement about its plans for a $5 billion construction and creation of 50,000 jobs in whichever city it chooses, Jeff Bezos and his team were careful to emphasize that they view this as a true "second home" for the company, rather than a satellite office, of which there are a fair amount all over the world, from Beijing to Cape Town to London. So what exactly is Amazon looking for?

"Amazon has a preference for metropolitan areas with more than one million people; a stable and business-friendly environment; urban or suburban locations with the potential to attract and retain strong technical talent; communities that think big and creatively when considering locations and real estate options," the statement reads.

Related: Amazon's Search for HQ2 Proves That Location, Location, Location Is Still What Matters Most

The ask appears to be purposefully broad. By all rights, Amazon has the clout and wherewithal to put down roots wherever it chooses. This kind of big, Willy Wonka-esque competition showcases the power of the brand and keeps people talking. The company also recognizes the power of the crowd to come up with innovative ideas for its second headquarters.

Amazon has an expansive view of what HQ2 could potentially look like. For example, it doesn't necessarily have to be situated in an "urban or downtown" setting, or even be remotely similar to the Seattle campus in terms of layout. Chiefly, Amazon noted that it didn't have to be a "development-prepped site. We want to encourage states and communities to think creatively for viable real estate options, while not negatively affecting our preferred timeline," the company said.

Related: Everything You Can Do With Amazon Alexa

The framing of what Amazon wants for HQ2 gives these cities enough runway to come up with the most creative proposals possible. As you search for solutions to the challenges you come up against, while you won't necessarily have the billions of dollars worth of resources at your disposal that Amazon does, you can still make an impact by channeling its active community engagement and anything-is-possible thinking.

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