The Election is Over. Now Thinking Outside the Box for Amazon HQ2


Maps of congressional districts (left) and Amazon HQ2 choices (right.)

Amazon must be seeing blue.

One election is over. It's the big one, with decisions on federal, state, and local elections. There will be a change in our next Congress with the Democrats winning the majority in the House of Representatives. But what I see when I look at an electoral map is lots of blue on the coasts, but a big red middle. Oh sure, there are some Democrats away from the Atlantic and the Pacific, but it is mostly in urban areas, our own metropolitan Chicago for example.

But one more election, or more properly, a selection, is coming. Amazon will soon choose HQ2,  the second headquarters of one of the biggest success stories of the last 20 years. The pins in the green map above are areas that have met Amazon's list of requirements, from available big buildings to abundant labor to transportation to quality of life. These are the 20 locations still in the running for the billion dollar Amazon lottery prize.

Put one map on top of the other and what do you see? With the exception of Toronto (and do we really think the headquarters will be in Canada?) all of Amazon's choices are rolling in the blue. That's where the facilities, labor, and culture that Amazon wants for its headquarters seem to be located.

But what if Amazon had taken a different approach? What if Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos had said "We want to be pioneers. We want to find a city, a region, a state that needs us more than we need them. We can bring jobs, help create infrastructure, attract top-notch engineers. We can provide a stronger tax base that will lead to better schools and improved healthcare. We might not have a symphony overnight, but we can learn of, and support, the local culture. We can be the new frontier."

And what if Amazon were only the first? What if all those new unicorns looked beyond Silicon Valley and Wall Street and brought their economic might to all areas of the country? They could stop making "liberal elite" dirty words to half the population.

Oh, I know it is a terrible short-term business proposition. Sthareholders would hate it. They would want to replace the Board of Directors, cast out the CEO. The Dow Jones would feel the ripple.

But wouldn't it be nice if the world were a little more purple?

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