Was Amazon’s headquarters search ‘a giant ruse’? NYC, D.C. centers of power prevail

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Amazon’s selection of New York City and Arlington, Virginia, for its new headquarters — as well as Nashville for a major investment — leaves major cities throughout the country wondering what could have been.

As Amazon dangled the prospect of 50,000 jobs and economic transformation, virtually every major city in the country jockeyed to win an economic development race for the ages.

But cities such as Chicago, Denver, Pittsburgh, Phoenix, Miami and Los Angeles were ultimately left empty-handed.

Did those cities get played? Did they ever have a legitimate shot at winning this race?

Critics say Amazon exploited the list of contenders for the sake of learning more about their secret plans for infrastructure investments, economic development and tax incentives.

And it’s hard to escape the fact that after about 14 months of consideration, Amazon ended up picking two of the richest areas in the country: New York and Washington, D.C.

While D.C. technically didn’t win the so-called HQ2 sweepstakes — Arlington is just across the Potomac River — the District will inevitably benefit from the halo effect of Amazon establishing what it called its “new Washington, D.C. metro headquarters.”

“Cities all around the country bent over backwards to try to apply,” said Calandra Cruickshank, CEO of StateBook International, a provider of economic development data. “Amazon certainly got a wealth of information about what properties and incentives and attributes different communities have to offer.”

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