Here’s how the other Amazon finalists stack up against Boston

A breakdown of the 19 cities competing with Boston for the commerce giant's second headquarters.

Rendering of Suffolk Downs site from City of Boston Amazon HQ bid ( Credit: City of Boston )
Rendering of Boston's proposed Amazon headquarters at Suffolk Downs. –City of Boston

In the nationwide publicity competition to win Amazon’s second headquarters, Boston had a lot of rivals. But on Thursday, the capital of Massachusetts was among the 20 finalists — narrowed down from 238 proposals — unveiled by the retail giant.

From metropolises like New York City to cities and towns virtually in Boston’s backyard, local governments across the country submitted bids for “HQ2,” which promises to have a transformative impact on the eventual winner.

Boston released its bid this past October, highlighting the region’s elite universities, skilled workforce, and a number of different properties to choose from, particularly focusing on the Suffolk Downs horse track.

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Amazon announced Thursday that a bid by the Boston area, including neighboring Somerville, made the cut. But the city is hardly alone.

Here’s a look at the 19 other municipalities that made the shortlist, and the reasons why they may or may not have an upper hand.

Atlanta

Why it could win:

  • The city is home to a “burgeoning” tech workforce, according to Moody’s.
  • The city also gets a boost for having a good transportation connector with the Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport.
  • Affordable housing would also be a draw, according to Forbes.

Why it might not:

  • Transportation is a problem. According to Moody’s, “traffic congestion remains a headache” and “mass transit is inadequate.”
  • The sprawl of the metropolitan area may prove to be a disqualifier, according to the Brookings Institute.

Austin, Texas

Why it could win:

  • With a well-educated workforce, it’s already known as a hub for IT. It’s also home to the second largest Apple facility and a large IBM campus.
  • It has a lower cost of living than Silicon Valley and other areas in the Northeast, according to Moody’s.
  • Whole Foods, recently acquired by Amazon, is headquartered in Austin.

Why it might not:

Chicago

Why it could win:

  • Chicago is offering financial incentives, according to The Chicago Tribune
  • It has low utility rates.
  • The city has two major airports and an extensive public transit system.

Why it might not:

  • Chicago is closer to Seattle than many of the top contenders, which could be a drawback.

Columbus

Why it could win:

  • The city has a growing, diverse economy and is home to The Ohio State University, offering a large student population. Both of those factors would be attractive to an employer looking to hire 50,000 new workers, according to WOSU.
  • In the last three years, Amazon went from having no presence in Ohio to hiring 6,000 people in the state, according to The Columbus Dispatch.
  • The city is affordable compared with some of its competitors and has a thriving downtown scene.
  • Millennials are already moving to the city for well-paying, first-time jobs, according to Business Insider.

Why it might not:

Dallas

Why it could win:

  • The city was beat out only by San Francisco when it comes to attracting tech talent, according to CNN.
  • The state is “notoriously business friendly,” according to CNN.
  • It has a low cost of living compared with other tech-centric cities.

Why it might not:

  • Its weak mass transit system and congestion could eliminate it as an option.
  • Amazon could struggle to fill jobs because many companies have recently moved to Texas, with Austin already established as the state’s tech hub, according to The Dallas Morning News.

Denver

Why it could win:

  • Google and IBM are a few of the tech companies that already have offices in the city, according to The New York Times.
  • The city has already been attracting college graduates at a faster rate than larger cities with the draw of its affordability and lifestyle, according to the Times.

Why it might not:

  • Housing costs are on the rise in Denver, according to KUNC.
  • The state has one of the lowest per-pupil spending rates in the country and is facing a budget shortfall for maintenance of its roads and bridges, according to KUNC.

Indianapolis

Why it could win:

  • A Brookings analysis found that Indianapolis grew its tech field by 13.9 percent each year from 2013 to 2015.
  • The city has an international airport and is centrally located at the intersection of several interstate highways connecting major Midwestern cities.
  • An analysis by the consulting and research firm Anderson Economic Group gave the city high marks for its low taxes and commercial rents.
  • Local officials say there are plenty of real estate options and space to build on.

Why it might not:

  • According to the Times, the city doesn’t have the “the cultural edginess that attracts young, educated workers.”
  • Indy has “struggles” with public transit, according to WRTV.

Los Angeles

Why it could win:

Why it might not:

Miami

Why it could win:

  • The city is home to the second busiest airport in the country, according to Moody’s.
  • Jeff Bezos graduated from a high school in the Miami area.

Why it might not:

  • State and local officials are not likely to offer a competitive incentive package, according to Moody’s.
  • The city would struggle to fulfill Amazon’s request for space.
  • It may be too far from Seattle.

Montgomery County

Why it could win:

  • According to the Baltimore Sun, the Maryland county — which includes the D.C. suburbs of Bethesda, Rockville, and Silver Spring — is one of the most affluent and highly educated counties in the country.
  • With Discovery Communications moving its global headquarters, there may be some prime property available.
  • The county is accessible by public transit to Washington, D.C., where Bezos recently bought a home, but has lower rents, according to an analysis by the real estate research firm Reis.

Why it might not:

  • The area has high labor and housing costs.
  • The problem-plagued Metro, which suffers from mismanagement, unreliable service, and rising fares.

Nashville

Why it could win:

  • Nashville, known as the “Music City,” has a vibrant culture that would attract talented workers, according to Business Insider.
  • The city’s friendly business environment makes it a contender, according to Moody’s Analytics.
  • According to the Tennessean, half of the U.S. population lives within a 650-mile radius of Nashville, and the city’s airport recently added nonstop flights to Seattle and San Francisco.

Why it might not:

Newark

Why it could win:

  • Major tax incentives were included in Newark’s bid, including a city property tax abatement that could be worth $1 billion and a waiver that would allow Amazon employees to keep an estimated $1 billion of their earnings for up to 20 years, according to NJ.com.
  • The city has an extensive transportation network, including Newark International Airport and the nation’s second-busiest seaport. It also offers close proximity to New York City.
  • The city’s mayor says it has the fastest broadband internet connection in the U.S.

Why it might not:

  • Newark has struggled with its image as a city that was historically riddled with poverty and violent crime rates, though a renaissance of sorts has been underway in recent years.

New York City

Why it could win:

  • NYC is a popular destination for young, educated workers, with a significant tech presence.
  • The city has two airports and an extensive mass transit system.
  • It’s New York City.

Why it might not:

  • Land and housing are expensive.
  • New York doesn’t plan to offer a ton of subsidies and tax breaks; Amazon would be a “big fish in a big pond,” according to Mayor Bill DeBlasio.
  • The mayor also made some awkward comments about Amazon being “destructive” a day after submitting the bid, Business Insider reported.

Northern Virginia

Why it could win:

  • Northern Virginia boasts a highly educated, affluent population in close proximity to D.C. (and Bezos’s new mansion).
  • Just like Montgomery County, suburban Virginia benefits from relatively lower rents than D.C.
  • The proposed campus would reportedly be adjacent to Dulles International Airport.

Why it might not:

  • The area also has high labor costs.
  • The Metro.

Philadelphia

Why it could win:

  • “A boom is underway but is not so far along that the city is now expensive,” Moody’s reported.
  • The city has multiple sites that could serve as possible locations for the headquarters.

Why it might not:

  • The city has an “inefficient” tax structure and problems with its public sector pensions.

Pittsburgh

Why it could win:

  • Amazon has already expanded its footprint in the city, according to Moody’s.
  • The city has a growing tech workforce, supported by the presence of universities like Carnegie Mellon.

Why it might not:

  • Amazon may struggle to fill the 50,000 jobs in the city.
  • Both the city and the state have fiscal problems.

Raleigh

Why it could win:

  • The North Carolina capital has a skilled labor pool, with one in five workers in an industry related to tech, science, or professional services, according to the Times.
  • Amazon says a “strong university system” is required. As one of the three corners of the Research Triangle, Raleigh is home to North Carolina State University and close to Duke University and UNC Chapel Hill.
  • The city has a “business-friendly” environment and a lively culture, according to the News & Observer.

Why it might not:

  • North Carolina could be at a disadvantage due to what CNBC characterized as the state’s “nagging lack of inclusiveness,” a result of a dearth of anti-discrimination laws.
  • According to CNBC, the state also has a “lack of mass transportation.”

Toronto

Why it could win:

  • Toronto has been increasing investments in artificial intelligence research and development, according to  Brookings.
  • The Canadian city also offers a diverse and cosmopolitan workforce.
  • Canada might be a more politically-friendly to the retailer, with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s openness to immigration for foreign workers, according to The Seattle Times.

Why it might not:

  • It’s expensive. According to The Seattle Times, Toronto has a higher median home value than Manhattan.
  • It’s not located in the U.S., which could be a source of criticism from the “made-in-America” movement.

Washington, D.C.

Why it could win:

  • The city already has a tie to Bezos through his ownership of The Washington Post, according to Fox Business. He also recently bought a house in the area.
  • The nation’s capital gets points for its easy access to multiple transportation hubs by air and rail.
  • The city has a diverse metro area and broad talent base, according to USA Today.

Why it might not:

  • Traffic is already a nightmare, and maintenance failures on public transit have caused a decline in ridership, according to USA Today.
  • The city has high labor costs.