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

Because in the words of Ralph Waldo Emerson, 'nothing great was ever achieved without enthusiasm.'


There was a flurry of excitement when Amazon announced in September that it was planning to open a new headquarters. Dubbed HQ2, the company said that it planned to invest more than $5 billion towards the construction and growth of the new campus, which would house an anticipated 50,000 new employees.

When you account for Amazon’s impact on its homebase -- in a press release about the new HQ, the company said that from 2010 to 2016 it invested $38 billion into Seattle’s economy -- it’s no surprise that nearly as soon as the news was released that the race was on. Reportedly, Amazon got more than 200 bids on the project.

Many tried to see if they could convince Amazon that the company should choose them, throwing a hat in the ring in some fairly inventive ways. But for all their enthusiasm, the field has been considerably narrowed.

Amazon shared this week that it had settled on a group of 20 finalists, including 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.

But we want to take moment, as progress marches on, to shout out the cities that tried, and failed, to capture the tech giant’s attention. Because there is still glory in the attempt.

Birmingham, Ala.

In October, the city launched a campaign called Bring A to B. The city set up giant versions of Amazon packages and Amazon Dash buttons that when pressed would send tweets to Amazon extolling the virtues of Birmingham and why the company should choose it for HQ2.

Stonecrest, Ga.

The state’s capital made the cut, but Stonecrest put in a real good faith, if slightly gimmicky, effort. The Stonecrest City Council voted in October to set aside 345 acres of land if the company chose the city for HQ2. The resolution asked the Georgia General Assembly to establish a city called -- wait for it -- Amazon on the land.

“There are several major U.S. cities that want Amazon, but none has the branding opportunity we are now offering this visionary company,” Stonecrest Mayor Jason Lary said in a statement. “How could you not want your 21st century headquarters to be located in a city named Amazon?”

Kansas City, Mo.

Kansas City opted not to go for a tax incentive but a five-star incentive. Mayor Sly James decided to purchase and review 1,000 products on Amazon and review them all, being sure to include pertinent information about why the company should choose the city for its next homebase. You can take a look at all of James’s insights here.


Tucson, Ariz.

Tucson thought that it would make a case for itself by giving a gift of some iconic local flora, in the form of a 21-foot tall saguaro. The cactus was courtesy of Sun Corridor, an economic development group for Southern Arizona. "We wanted to make sure Mr. Bezos and his team notice us and send a message of 'we have room for you to grow here for the long term' -- nothing signifies that better than a saguaro," said Sun Corridor CEO Joe Snell in a statement.

Amazon unfortunately couldn’t accept the giant plant, but it did get a new home at the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum.

Charlotte, N.C.

Everyone knows that Amazon does big business during the holiday season, but Charlotte’s mayor, Jennifer Watson Roberts, decided to take that a step further by proclaiming Oct. 18 Prime Day, complete with the hashtag #CLTisPrimeDay. You know it’s the real deal thanks to the official seal.

Bloomberg | Getty Images

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