SEATTLE -- Denver is among 20 finalists for a second headquarters for Amazon, the company announced Thursday.
The other finalists are Atlanta; Austin, Texas; Boston; Chicago; Columbus, Ohio; Dallas; Indianapolis; Los Angeles; Miami; Montgomery County, Maryland; Nashville, Tennessee; Newark, New Jersey; New York; Northern Virginia; Philadelphia; Pittsburgh; Raleigh, North Carolina; Toronto; and Washington.
The e-commerce retail giant received 238 proposals from North American cities and regions from across 54 states, provinces, districts and territories.
"Getting from 238 to 20 was very tough -- all the proposals showed tremendous enthusiasm and creativity," said Holly Sullivan of Amazon Public Policy.
"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."
The company expects to invest more than $5 billion to build the 8-million-square-foot facility and promises to create as as many as 50,000 high-paying jobs over 15 years.
Seattle-based Amazon is expected to pick a location later this year.
In the coming months, the company said it will work with each of the locations to "dive deeper" into their proposals, obtain more information and evaluate how the city could accommodate Amazon's hiring plans and benefit its workers and the local community.
Colorado and the privately run Metro Denver Economic Development Corp. submitted one bid listing at least eight sites in the metro area that could accommodate the large space that will be needed.
The proposal cites FasTracks' $7.8 billion investment in commuter and light rail; Denver International Airport's planned expansion and 180-plus nonstop destinations; and a talent pool fostered by area universities and net migration to the state.
Amazon's first-round request for proposals in September set off a national -- international, even -- frenzy of bids from 238 municipalities.
Cities made splashy attempts to attract the company's attention. Tuscon, Arizona sent a giant cactus to CEO Jeff Bezos and Stonecrest, Georgia, offered to deannex some of its land and rename it the city of Amazon.
Amazon has said the second headquarters would be a "full equal" to its Seattle campus. The tech giant estimates its investments in Seattle from 2010 through 2016 resulted in an extra $38 billion to the city's economy.
“There is still a lot of work to be done, lots of questions that we have,” Denver Mayor Michael Hancock said.
Hancock was thrilled with Thursday's news, but Denver's geography could be the biggest obstacle to landing HQ2 because Amazon already has a headquarters in Seattle and most of the other finalists are in the Eastern time zone.
“Those of us that think about it, the formula for why you would choose Denver and why you would not, that is one of the things working against us, but it’s up to Amazon to answer that question,” Hancock said
According to economic officials, a phone call took place with Amazon officials Thursday.
“We had initial contact with them this morning,” said Sam Bailey, a vice president with Metro Denver Economic Development Corp.
Bailey said next steps include the possibility of onsite visits or meetings.
“We expect Amazon will want to go through another assessment, a deeper dive gathering more granular information about our state,” Bailey said.
Denver submitted eight metro-area locations as possible sites to Amazon late last year, including more than $100 million in tax incentives.