Why Minnesota isn’t going to get Amazon’s headquarters

Minnesota is not going to get Amazon to establish its second headquarters in the state. The only people who think it will seem to be from Minnesota.

Amazon established the criteria for the winning bidder and Minnesota fares poorly, at least according to an analysis by CNBC.

We’re particularly poor at mass transit, although it might be helpful to point out to mass transit opponents around here that a company with 50,000 jobs was looking at communities with mass transit. How do you like it now?

So what cities are the most likely to win the Amazon sweepstakes? Surprise! It’s the ones that usually win these things.

New York, Atlanta, Chicago, San Francisco and Boston.

In creating its scorecard, CNBC looked at public transportation ridership, workforce educational attainment, local area job growth, airport passenger traffic, and the number of accredited post-secondary education institutions in each city. The top 20 cities in each category got 20 points, the second-ranked got 19 points etc.

Economists Mark Zandi and Adam Ozimek of Moody’s also created a ranking system to figure out the eventually winner. The top 10 were headed by Austin, Atlanta, and Philadelphia.

You’ll note that in CNBC’s scorecard, Austin finished just behind Minneapolis.

  • Guest

    So are the numbers based on the # of Universities within city limits???? I am surprised Mpls is not even in the top 20.

    IS Amazon considering the whole metro area in building these stats?

    DOES Amazon weigh each factor equally?

  • Jeff

    I honestly don’t think we have much of a chance especially with the $3M in chump change. However, I couldn’t divine what CNBC was using for scoring. It seems to be ranking by the number of universities and airport passengers which makes no sense.

  • bjnord

    Not that I disagree (I think we’re a long-shot), but when I saw New York in the #1 position, it struck me as odd/unlikely that cost of living wouldn’t be one of Amazon’s criteria (as it is in Moody’s).

    As Jeff says, what makes us think CNBC’s 5 are the criteria Amazon will be using? (The caption text seems to allude to it, but…)

  • Gary F

    And we must not rate very high for Universities or job growth.
    Dallas rates higher overall but has no workforce education.

    I’m not taking the survey to seriously.

    CNBC , isn’t that the racist guy station?

    • Jeff

      It’s “too seriously” – Bezos might be reading this.

  • Lindsey

    Why is the number of universities so low here?

  • I don’t understand the ranking of the universities part? Are they not counting the University of Minnesota? Not to mention the other colleges in the overall metro area.

    • Jay T. Berken

      “number of accredited post-secondary education institutions”

      We may have the U of M, but that is it for big post-secondary programs. Most of the higher education in Minnesota are colleges (e.g. Macalester, Carleton, St. Olaf, Gustavus). I did question that as reading through too.

      • Joseph

        University of St. Thomas!
        Aren’t all the other private colleges in the area accredited post-secondary education institutions?

        • Jay T. Berken

          Regionally maybe not nationally.

      • crystals

        Those are all post-secondary institutions, though. Colleges *are* postsecondary institutions, and there are 175 total accredited postsecondary institutions in MN according to the US Department of Education.

        I think what Amazon is looking for are very specific programs – computer programming, engineering, tech – and where we’re falling short (as a state and as a country) is in the number of students graduating from those programs specifically.

        • Jay T. Berken

          I guess ‘post-secondary’ can be interpreted that way…under-grad as well as post-grad degrees, which yes the Twin Cities has good ‘post-secondary’ in the U, Macalester and Carlton (if you count it as Twin Cities). As you said, Minnesota does lack in high programming, engineering and computer science. It more of a Liberal Arts state.

          How I interpret was ‘post-graduate’ programs (i.e Masters, Professional and Doctoral programs) which the U of M really is the only place in Minnesota that ranks across the nation. Macalester and Carlton are colleges with very little if any ‘post-graduate’ programs.

  • Jack Ungerleider

    Using no criteria what so ever to determine anything, being influenced only by this article I will provide the following list of top prospects for Amazon’s new HQ:
    1. Boston (pro: all those Harvard and MIT grads, con: did we mention 20″ snowfalls?)
    2. Atlanta (pro: vital hub in a growth portion of the country, con: Hurricanes and tornadoes)
    3. Austin (pro: Texas is a tax haven, con: see Atlanta)
    4. Nashville (pro: think of ease of licensing all that country music, con: see pro)
    5. Chicago (pro: Jeff wants the Willis Tower because it used to be the Sears Tower, con: the cuisine is a little too “meaty”.)


    • Jay T. Berken

      “2. Atlanta (pro: vital hub in a growth portion of the country, con: Hurricanes and tornadoes)”

      I am surprised that Atlanta is high on the list due to the transit. When I think Atlanta, I think “sprawl”.

      • JAM661

        Atlanta is a mess to drive though also.

      • Jack Ungerleider

        I won’t argue any of that. It just seems that Atlanta always makes a short list for a company from the west coast moving east. Also I would probably replace Nashville with Memphis because of the synergistic relationship with FedEx.

  • X.A. Smith

    My guess is Pennsylvania. Based on very little knowledge or data.

    I think the most salient part of this post is:

    //We’re particularly poor at mass transit, although it might be helpful to point out to mass transit opponents around here that a company with 50,000 jobs was looking at communities with mass transit. How do you like it now?//

  • Jeff C.
    • JoeInMidwest

      is that because of legalized marijuana??

      • Rob

        Maybe skiing opportunities

  • kennedy

    It looks like the CNBC rating on the bar chart short changed Minneapolis on job growth. The bar chart for Minneapolis doesn’t give the city any points for that category. Those extra points would put the city rank between Philadelphia and Orlando.

  • crystals

    Serious respect to San Antonio, who decided to drop the boom on Amazon and call them out on their process while taking themselves out of the running.

  • Postal Customer

    I want the Amazon HQ, but the “incentives” they’ll want would wreck us.

    Not surprised to see our very low ranking on mass transit though.

    • BJ

      What incentives do they want? I had not hear any requests.

      • asiljoy

        I don’t think they’ve listed anything specific, but this is a bidding process. They want the world and then some, a la the ridiculousness we give away when we pretend that the Olympics is an economic driver for a city.

        • BJ

          A lot about this from Amazon is about logistics. So many miles from Airport, so many miles from population center, size of population (for hiring purposes), educational partnership opportunities, etc.

          The actual RFP does include questions about incentives, 2,3,4 specifically. It is only 1/3 of the actual RFP, detail descriptions of the incentives. But number 1 on the list was the location and site of the actual HQ. The total RFP is 7 pages long, with 9 total RFP questions (that take up about 1 page of the 7).

          Here is a link it’s not a long read.


          • asiljoy

            My overly cynical heart zeroed in on the following bit ”

            Capital and Operating Costs – A stable and business – friendly
            environment and tax structure will be high priority considerations for the Project. Incentives offered by the state/province and local communities to offset initial capital outlay and ongoing operational costs will be significant
            factors in the decision-making process.

            which strikes me as nothing more than an ask for bigger bribes.

          • BJ

            The solution to which is pretty easy – but not enough people do it – elect smarter politicians.

            Notice that ‘Stable’ was one of the very first items listed. If there is a stable tax policy, and even a stable incentive program, that may weigh pretty heavily. Minnesota by not opening up the cookie jar maybe in better shape than a lot of states in this regard, we have a lot of programs on the books – that have been there and have a track record of stability.

    • Rob

      Is there enough open space for an Amazon campus in your neighborhood?

  • JAM661

    I think it is just as well we don’t get it. The Twin Cities have grown so much and when you have more people moving in you give up valuable land and other resources. I think the area already has enough Corparations around as it is.

  • jon

    I was told having a pro football with a new stadium team would be enough to attract business and jobs to Minnesota, now it’s not even in the list?

    Color me suprised.

  • JoeInMidwest

    Confusing. I see what categories this article rates as important. Yet, every article I have seen about Amazon’s 2nd HQ ALWAYS states that cost of living, which means cost of housing especially, is very important. And the cities highlighted here all have VERY HIGH housing costs, so I do not see how NYC, SF, Chicago, and Boston could possible be considered to have low housing costs.

  • Rob

    Though it’s not a called-out criterion, climate is clearly a selection factor. Of all the cities listed, roughly 80% are places where winter is not five months long.

  • Unlike Minnesota, Boston isn’t keeping its bid a secret. It releaseds its proposal this morning.


  • BJ

    I don’t believe that any currently the largest and expensive place will be the new HQ. New York, Atlanta, Chicago, San Francisco and Boston – all out.

    Portland, Salt Lake City both make a lot of sense logistically, in same time zone. Portland is ‘driving’ distance.

    I could see a Canadian city getting nod.

    Nabraska, Omaha might not be on any big lists (I don’t think the population meets the criteria) but Lincoln has one of the best software development colleges in the country and is close by.

    But that does bring up Kansas City, which isn’t that far away from either. I don’t see it on any lists either but is nice and central, logistically speaking.

    • QuietBlue

      I didn’t realize Atlanta was all that expensive as major metro areas go. I know it’s certainly less expensive than the rest of those cities you listed.

    • Rob

      And it has a relatively temperate climate.

    • Jeff

      KC’s airport isn’t world class, also I can’t name a university in KC.

    • Bob Sinclair

      Portland is going through he same crunch that Seattle is: tight housing market, infrastructure that can’t be expanded, low unemployment, not many universities in the area that meet Amazons criteria.

  • Dan

    Size and climate are probably bigger factors against MN vs. transit. Twin Cities aren’t big enough for what they want IMO, even though they annoyingly low balled the population requirement. Also, it gets cold in the winter here, and people don’t like that.

    Amazon I would assume cares more about how their HQ is served by transit than transit situation overall. To be clear I agree MN isn’t getting the HQ, but you could build by the MOA and have very convenient transit to a major airport and a downtown area for workers to live/play. Or offices downtown, with transit to the airport.

    Overall the “buzz” this is getting is annoying since Amazon made their requirements broad enough than any decent sized city can squint and see themselves. My instinct is that it’s mostly BS, and Amazon has two or maybe three cities in mind, probably with one massive favorite. Just going to “open” the process to juice the incentives.

    It’s the ones that usually win these things.

    New York, Atlanta, Chicago, San Francisco and Boston.

    “Travel time to an international airport, with daily direct flights to Seattle, New York, San Francisco, Washington D.C. ” is one of their reqs, I don’t think they have those cities in mind. I would guess SF, DC and NYC are just too expensive to build / buy office space. Boston borderline on the same, though maybe there’s something they have in mind. Atlanta… I would be surprised, unless their “transit” and “highway” comments were just practical jokes. I’ve heard Denver and Austin thrown out and they don’t sound like what Amazon wants to me. Chicago or Philly… maybe. I hope they announce or narrow it sooner than later so that all these cities and states can stop wasting time on it.

  • John

    I don’t believe MN has much of a shot – really. There are a lot of places providing proposals, and we have some drawbacks here (including the minimal cash outlay – seems like we offered a lot more just to keep a certain football team here. I bet they don’t generate 50K jobs for the state).

    But – what we do have – we have a LOT of Target and Best Buy employees who know large scale retail. If I were running a large scale retail operation, I’d be thinking a bit about how I can staff my 50K positions with qualified people. One way to do that might be to steal them from the competition. One way to do that might be to build a major HQ in the competition’s back yard.

    something to think about.

    • Jerry

      So you’re saying it’s going Bentonville, Arkansas?

      • John

        That wouldn’t surprise me much either.

        I’m told there’s a Siemens facility right near GE’s research headquarters in upstate NY. Ditto a GE facility near Siemens in Germany. Sometimes a big company will put a building near the competition just because they can. (See also – US Bank and the maybe now settled legal dispute with Wells Fargo’s building across the street having a sign on the roof).

        • Jerry

          My actual money would be on the Raleigh-Durham triangle area, if I had to guess.

          • Jeff

            Depends how solid that airport requirement is. Same thing for Austin and traffic is atrocious.

  • flqueenfan

    I have lived in Minneapolis, Tampa, and now, Denver. I would like to know in what universe is our airport ranked higher than MSP or TPA? It’s in the middle of nowhere and takes an eternity to get there.

    • Agreed. I think MSP is a fabulous airport. I had some relatives in for a wedding a few weeks ago. A nephew’s first words to me — and I haven’t seen him in a few years — was “you have a great airport here.”

    • Jerry

      And it’s guarded by a freaky demon horse