- Amazon has asked the top 20 cities in the race to win the coveted HQ2 bid to shift to "confidential pitch mode" in the second round of the process, according to a confirmed CNBC report.
- During the annual U.S. Conference of Mayors winter meeting, a number of attendees were tight-lipped about their plans for HQ2. Miami Mayor Francis Suarez told CNBC that he's "bound to confidentiality," Washington, DC Mayor Muriel Bowser said she would not discuss "what's on the table," and Boston Mayor Marty Walsh said it was too early to discuss incentives.
- The top 20 contenders for HQ2 include Austin, Atlanta, Indianapolis, Nashville, Philadelphia, New York, Dallas and Toronto.
Despite the extreme amount of buzz around the original bids from 238 North American cities, it is wise for HQ2 contenders to quiet down as the bidding war continues. With a $5 billion facility and 50,000 jobs at stake, cities cannot risk being too exposed or vulnerable to criticism. Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings told CNBC, "It's like a poker game."
For some of the 20 cities that made the list, reconsideration of regulations or state objectives may be in order. For example, to advance the case of an Indianapolis-based HQ2, Indiana lawmakers are considering reversing a state ban on light rail in Indianapolis. In Nashville, the city is currently experiencing a housing crisis and may need to rapidly stabilize the housing market in order to appropriately welcome 50,000 new residents to the city. Other cities, especially in the DMV area, are facing traffic inefficiencies that may cause a headache if the HQ2 were to land in DC, Northern Virginia or Montgomery County.
For the cities that did not advance to the top 20 list of contenders, a reassessment of city development and progress may also be in order. Bob Harvey, CEO of the Greater Houston Partnership, said in a statement that Houston's loss is a "wake-up call" for the city. This sentiment was echoed by officials in Charlotte, NC and Detroit — and some cities are now turning their attention to the new Apple headquarters in a second attempt at victory.