Georgia didn’t convince Amazon that Atlanta is the best place for the company’s second headquarters, missing out on tens of thousands of jobs, the nation’s biggest ever economic development prize and the growth headaches expected to have come with it.
The Seattle-based e-commerce and tech giant made it official Tuesday, announcing that it will split its proposed $5-billion, 50,000-job HQ2 project into two new headquarters, placing one in New York’s Long Island City in Queens and the other in Arlington, Va., across the Potomac River from Washington D.C.
The company also said it would put a smaller outpost with 5,000 jobs in Nashville to focus on logistics and related activities.
The HQ2 decision is a stinging blow in Georgia where leaders initially were quietly confident about Atlanta’s chances.
News reports in recent days suggested Amazon had made follow-up visits or held additional conversations with other cities, including Dallas and Chicago. But the company hadn’t had detailed HQ2 conversations with Georgia officials in many months.
Prospects for HQ2 sparked concerns about the kind of booming growth Amazon and other companies fueled in Seattle, where housing prices soared, gentrification worried locals and even hyper spending on transportation failed to prevent worsening traffic.
But for boosters across much of the nation, the math still added up in the project’s favor. Amazon set off a feeding frenzy among cities anxious for a giant pool of $100,000-plus jobs, potential for spinoff businesses and image-burnishing prospects. In Atlanta there were hopes it might become a centerpiece for rebuilding desolate areas of downtown’s southern stretches, including the so-called Gulch.
Gov. Nathan Deal made Amazon the state’s highest recruitment priority, devoting tremendous resources from the state Department of Economic development and leaning on the region’s business elite and local recruiting agencies to craft a proposal to win the project.
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