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Amazon’s HQ2 has 20 potential new homes, but Atlanta may be the frontrunner

Lulu Chang
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The hunt for Amazon’s second headquarters has reached fever pitch now that the company has unveiled the 20 finalists still in consideration to become the online retailer’s new home. One of the most popular contenders, however, is not on the list, and not even in North America — not our version of it, at least. Netflix tweeted that Amazon ought to consider Hawkins, Indiana, the fictional home of the hit Stranger Things, and the Twitterverse ate it up. Unfortunately, however, pure logistics will probably make this plan hard to execute.

Back in the real world, after reviewing no fewer than 238 proposals from across the U.S., Canada, and Mexico, Amazon has narrowed down its list, with some obvious tech-friendly choices, and some surprises as well.

See finalists

One of the more interesting names on the list is Atlanta, Georgia, the city that demographic and place data firm Sperling Best Places has dubbed most likely to become Amazon’s final pick. As TechCrunch noted, Sperling has quite a record of success in guessing Amazon’s moves thus far — 15 of its 20 picks for finalists made Amazon’s recent list.

So why Atlanta? Sperling believes that the southern city’s location on the East Coast makes it close enough to hubs like D.C., Boston, and New York, but its geography is spread out enough that it would offer HQ2 plenty of space. Plus, Atlanta is quite affordable, and if Amazon chose to build on the outskirts of the city, it could avoid crowding, overpricing, and congestion.

While these are certainly attractive qualities, all of Amazon’s finalists meet the company’s requirements of having a metropolitan area, a population of more than 1 million, and the capacity to both attract and retain technical experience.

“Getting from 238 to 20 was very tough — all the proposals showed tremendous enthusiasm and creativity,” Holly Sullivan, Amazon Public Policy, 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.”

Amazon will be working with each of the 20 finalists to take a closer look at their proposals and request additional information. The company will also have to determine how well the target city can aid in Amazon’s hiring push, and how well Amazon can benefit the local community. With an investment of $5 billion in this new headquarters and the promise of as many as 50,000 “high-paying jobs,” it certainly seems as though the ecommerce behemoth will be bringing plenty to whichever city it ultimately chooses as its new home. Amazon will announce the winner of the HQ2 competition this year.

Update: Atlanta may be the most likely pick for HQ2, according to Sperling Best Places.