Amazon just announced who’s still in the running for its $5 billion HQ2 — here are 15 of the list’s biggest snubs

Amazon's map of the top 20 contenders for its second headquarters, HQ2.

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Amazon’s map of the top 20 contenders for its second headquarters, HQ2.
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Amazon

  • Amazon has announced its short list of the cities it’s considering for its second headquarters.
  • The e-commerce giant plans to invest $5 billion in the project.
  • We’ve rounded up the major cities that didn’t make the cut despite making appealing pitches.

Amazon has narrowed down its list of possible HQ2 locations.

For 20 cities, that was amazing news. For the 218 other cities and regions that had put themselves in the running, it wasn’t great.

“Getting from 238 to 20 was very tough – all the proposals showed tremendous enthusiasm and creativity,” Holly Sullivan of Amazon’s public policy department said in a statement. “Through this process, we learned about many new communities across North America that we will consider as locations for future infrastructure investment and job creation.”

While there’s been a lot of focus on which cities are moving on to the next round in this exciting sweepstakes, we decided to take a look at the cities that we thought had a good chance for HQ2, but ultimately didn’t make the cut.


Detroit, Michigan

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Shutterstock

Detroit had high hopes for the boost it would get as the site of HQ2. It didn’t make the cut, but it was a close call, according to those involved.

“We were good but we weren’t good enough on the talent front,” Sandy Baruah, president and CEO of the Detroit Regional Chamber of Commerce, said to the Detroit Free Press, recounting feedback from Amazon.


Houston, Texas

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Sean Pavone/Shutterstock

Houston was hoping it would have something to look forward to in 2018 after a difficult 2017. Alas, it was not to be, though Amazon was not said to have cited a specific reason.

“I believe this is a wake-up call for Houston,” Bob Harvey, CEO of the Greater Houston Partnership, which submitted the bid to Amazon, said in a statement to local media. “While there has been growing momentum in the innovation space over the last couple of years, this is a clear indication that we have much more work to do as a region to grow our digital economy.”


St. Louis, Missouri

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Joe Raedle/Getty Images

St. Louis was not on the short list, a tough blow to local leaders who saw HQ2 as a way to unite the region.

Still, Sheila Sweeney, CEO of St. Louis Economic Development Partnership, told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that the bid submission “was not in vain,” and that it may have spurred local businesses to think about development throughout the region.


Jacksonville, Florida

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Flickr/Rob Bixby

Jacksonville didn’t make the cut, even though it would have charged nothing for Amazon’s use of its shipyards development site.

Calling pursuit of Amazon’s new HQ “aspirational,” the city of Jacksonville’s public affairs official, Tia R. Ford, told local media: “While Jacksonville was not named as a finalist for this project, Mayor Curry and the administration work every day to identify opportunities that expand the local economy and create jobs while protecting taxpayer money.”


San Francisco Bay Area

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Richard Heyes/flickr

It’s no big surprise that the San Francisco Bay Area didn’t make the cut, as it’s likely that its proximity to Seattle meant it wasn’t fully on Amazon’s radar. Still, snubbing the entire Bay Area is incredibly notable, as the area is already the nation’s foremost tech hub and seems to meet all of the company’s criteria.

San Francisco offered upCandlestick Point and called it “the largest single redevelopment opportunity on the West Coast,” but Amazon passed.


Baltimore, Maryland

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jimmyweee/Flickr

Baltimore was a surprising eastern seaboard snub, as many neighboring cities got shortlisted.

Mayor Catherine E. Pugh told the Baltimore Sun that she thought the city had “a great proposal” and rejected the idea that the city’s crime rates factored into the decision.

“There are cities on the list with comparable crime rates,” she said.


San Diego, California

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Shutterstock.com

San Diego did not get a spot on the short list like its neighbor Los Angeles surprisingly did.

“We knew that this would be a long-shot based on geography and incentive options,” Mark Cafferty, president and CEO of San Diego’s Economic Development Corporation told the Times of San Diego.


Orlando, Florida

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Shutterstock

Orlando did not make the cut for Amazon, potentially because it lacks the higher-education facilities that other cities could provide, Owen Beitsch, an adjunct professor of real estate development at the University of Central Florida, told the Orlando Sentinel.


Charlotte, North Carolina

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Bryan Pollard/Shutterstock

Though Charlotte did not make the cut, its fellow North Carolinian city, Raleigh, is one of the lucky 20 finalists.

In a tweet, Mayor Vi Lyles implored local residents to support Raleigh’s bid for Amazon’s new HQ, saying: “When economic opportunity expands in our state, everyone benefits.”


Cincinnati, Ohio

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aceshot1/Shutterstock

Cincinnati is wasting no time after getting the snub from Amazon in favor of Ohio neighbor Columbus.

“We put forth a good effort, and we’ve got to keep going,” Cincinnati Mayor John Cranley told The Cincinnati Enquirer. “We’ve got to go for Apple now.'”


Phoenix, Arizona

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f11photo/Shutterstock

No Arizona cities were shortlisted by Amazon. Phoenix’s ultimate bid was kept a secret, though Phoenix New Times described it as “more subdued.”

Not even the gift of a cactus from neighboring Tucson helped to move the needle in the direction they were hoping for.


Salt Lake City, Utah

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f11photo/Shutterstock

Salt Lake City was left off the list despite the region’s best efforts.

“From Amazon’s initial call for proposals, we knew Utah would be at a disadvantage due to our proximity to their current headquarters and our small population size,” Val Hale, the executive director of the governor’s office, said in a statement.


Kansas City, Missouri

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Shutterstock

Kansas City’s mayor, Sly James, reviewed 1,000 products from Amazon in an effort to drum up attention for his city’s bid.

“We competed well,” James told CNNMoney. “Something like Amazon doesn’t come free. There’s a cost. I think everyone was looking at the benefit and not the cost.”


Portland, Oregon

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Ziga Cetrtic / Shutterstock.com

Portland didn’t appear on many prediction lists as it is just too close to Amazon’s home of Seattle.

Some local media praised the defeat. “Hooray! Portland’s Crushing Defeat in the Amazon HQ2 Battle Will Keep Housing Prices Reasonable For People Who Already Live Here!” reads a tongue-in-cheek headline from Willamette Week.


Milwaukee, Wisconsin

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Suzanne Tucker/Shutterstock

Milwaukee did not appear on the short list, despite the city’s inclusion of a letter from Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker in its bid.