Denver’s competition for Amazon’s second headquarters

DENVER -- The Denver metro area is among 20 finalists for Amazon's second headquarters, the company announced Thursday.

That means 19 other cities -- some bigger and some smaller -- are also still in the running.

Two Denver economics experts agree that in these final stages of the selection process, Denver has a lot to offer.

"Denver has a really compelling and unique case, particularly against lots of the other bigger cities that made the list," said J.B. Holston, dean of the Denver University Daniel F. Ritchie School of Engineering.

Holston said that's because Denver is offering a lot of what Amazon desires. This includes a talented and educated workforce and space to build. Plus, Denver is a desirable city to live in.

"If you think of kind of the stereotypical Amazon employee -- and not the stereotypical employees of the last 20 years, but of the next 20 years -- and you think of Denver, those just sound like they ought to be in the same sentence," Holston said.

But what Denver isn't offering that some of its competitors are is tax breaks.

RELATED: Denver's bid to lure second Amazon headquarters

The proposal from Newark, New Jersey, offers $7 billion in tax breaks to Amazon. Other cities could up their ante, according to Andrew Friedson, assistant professor of economics at the University of Colorado Denver.

"This is exactly what I would do if I’m trying to touch off a bidding war between places," Friedson said. "You get a couple places you like and you say, 'Alright, you guys are finalists.' And they all start saying, 'Well, you have to up the ante because we’re at the big table now.'"

Holston disgrees. He believes Amazon and its founder, Jeff Bezos, are looking at more than money.

"If it’s a bigger city and we’re all about money, then I think Denver wouldn’t necessarily be in the running," Holston said. "I don’t think it’s about a bigger city and I don’t think it’s all about the money."

"It doesn’t change the fact that corporations want more," Friedson said. "This is how they’re wired. This is how capitalism is wired. They’re always looking to get more. If you can more or you can get less, you’re going to want more."

Holston and Friedson agree that money aside, the location could be about what Amazon truly wants in a second headquarters.

If Amazon wants to extend its reach overseas, Denver is probably out and the East Coast is in.

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.

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.

How the other 19 finalists compare to the Mile High City.

Atlanta, Georgia, USA downtown skyline.


With a GDP of $304 billion, Atlanta has the eighth-largest economy in the country and the 17th largest in the world.

It is the headquarters of Coca-Cola, UPS, and CNN among others with 75 percent of Fortune 1,000 companies conducting some sort of business operations in the city.

Amazon may be drawn to Atlanta for the amount educated workers with 47 percent of adults 25 and older having at least a 4-year college degree.

Austin, Texas, USA downtown skyline over the Colorado River.

Austin, Texas

Austin is the fastest growing city in the United States, according to Forbes.

Austin is known for its diverse population that includes government employees, college students, musicians, high-tech workers, and blue-collar workers.

It was ranked No. 1 on U.S. News & World Report's list of best places to live because of its music, outdoor spaces, and cultural institutions.

Boston city skyline at dusk with Prudential Tower and urban skyscrapers over Charles River with lights and reflections.


There are several colleges and universities in the Boston area that make it an international center of higher education in things like law, medicine, and business.

Boston is one of the oldest cities in the United States, founded in 1630, so there is a lot of history and culture around the city.

The city is considered to be a leader in innovation and entrepreneurship, which Amazon may value in making their decision.

Wood floor with chicago city skyline at daytime


Chicago is the third biggest city in the United States and has nearly 10 million people in the Chicagoland area.

Currently, Chicago is a diversified economy with no single industry employing more than 14 percent of the workforce.

It is one of the most visited cities in the word with several memorable landmarks.

The Scioto river reflects Downtown Columbus Ohio. The Lights of the Rich Street Bridge are seen in the foreground spanning the Scioto River. This view is from the Scioto Mile Riverfront Park path. Streaks of the inner-city lights are reflected onto the calm river causing a mirrored effect on the waterfront in the Columbus Ohio Downtown Business District. HDR has brought out the vivid colors seen here shot in the Fall.

Columbus, Ohio

Columbus is a growing city with an estimated population of 860,090.

Money Magazine ranked Columbus as one of "The 6 Best Big Cities" in 2016, saying that it is the best in the Midwest, with a highly educated workforce and excellent wage growth.

The city is home to several national Fortune 500 companies such as Wendy's and Big Lots.

Dallas skyline reflected in Trinity river at sunset, Texas


The Dallas-Fort Worth area is one of the fastest growing ares in the United States with a recorded population of 7,233,323 as of July 1, 2016, an increase of 807,000 people since the 2010 census.

Dallas is a transportation hub with four major interstate highways, one of the busiest airports in the world, and many major railroad lines.

It is the home of several universities around the metroplex area.

Indianapolis skyline and the White River at twilight


Indianapolis is best known in the auto racing world for the Indianapolis 500.

The city is home to three Fortune 500 companies with health insurance company Anthem being the biggest of the companies.

It is home to about 200 parks with the biggest park being Eagle Creek Park which is among the largest in the U.S. covering 4,766 acres.

Los Angeles, California, USA downtown skyline.

Los Angeles

LA is the cultural, commercial, and financial center of Southern California.

It is the second biggest city in the United States, behind New York City, with an estimated population of 13,131,431 residents in the metro area.

Los Angeles has plenty of sunshine to offer potential Amazon employees with only 35 days with measurable precipitation annually on average.

Aerial view of Miami skyscrapers with blue cloudy sky,white boat sailing next to Miami downtown


Miami is a major port city in the southeastern United States sitting on the Atlantic coast of Florida.

Downtown Miami is a financial hub with the largest concentration of international banks in the United States, and many large national and international companies.

With the large amount of international banks, Miami has a strong international business community.

Montgomery County, Maryland

Montgomery County, Maryland is located outside of Washington, D.C.  and is the most populous county in Maryland.

There is a large number of residents who hold post-graduate degrees.

Forbes ranked the county as the 10th richest in the United States in 2011 with a median household income of $92,213.

Nashville, Tennessee, USA downtown skyline on the Cumberland River.

Nashville, Tennessee

Nashville is best known for their music scene as the home of country music.

The city is home to several colleges and universities.

Because of the country music connection, all of the big four record labels as well as several independent labels have offices in Nashville.

Newark, New Jersey

Located just outside of New York City, it is New Jersey's largest populous city.

Over 100,000 people commute to Newark for work every day with several different jobs in various industries.

Newark is a transportation hub with one of the busiest international airports in the United States and the largest cargo port in the area.

New York city skyline with Statue of Liberty.

New York

New York City is the biggest city in the United States with an estimated population of 8,537,673.

Several businesses and banks already call New York City home making it a financial capital.

The city would be easy for Amazon to attract potential employees to because of how well known the city is.

Northern Virginia

Northern Virginia is outside of the the Washington D.C. area and is considered the most populous region of Virginia.

There is easy transportation options for residents in this part of Virginia to quickly get to Washington D.C.  with several highways and railway systems.

The Pentagon and Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) are headquartered in this area.

Aerial Philadelphia cityscape by night with the City Hall tower in the foreground and Ben Franklin bridge spanning Delaware river in the back


Sixth biggest city in the US with an estimated population of 1,567,872

Philadelphia has more outdoor sculptures and murals than any other American city which Amazon has said is important in the city they choose for the lifestyle of their employees.

Philadelphia has a long, rich history in the United States as the home of many firsts such as the first library, hospital, and national capital.

View of Downtown Pittsburgh


Pittsburgh has an estimated population of 303,625 people.

The Pittsburgh metro area is already home to six Fortune 500 companies including The Kraft Heinz Company and Dick's Sporting Goods.

It was named one of the eleven most livable cities in the word by Metropolis Magazine in 2015.

Raleigh, North Carolina, USA downtown city skyline.

Raleigh, North Carolina

Raleigh is one of the fastest growing cities in the country

Home of "The Research Triangle" with North Carolina State University, Duke University, and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and is the home of numerous high-tech companies

The city was named number two on the Forbes list of the best place for businesses and careers.

Toronto Skyline with purple light - Toronto, Ontario, Canada


Toronto is the only Canadian city on the list and is the largest city in Canada as well as the fourth largest North American city with an estimated 2,731,571 residents in 2016.

Toronto is a large entertainment hub - many movie and television productions are in Toronto.

The city is already the headquarters of many large Canadian corporations with several being in the technology field.

New Dawn over Washington - with 3 iconic monuments illuminated at sunrise: Lincoln Memorial, Washington Monument and the Capitol Building.


Jeff Bezos, the CEO of Amazon, owns The Washington Post and owns a home in the D.C. metro area.

The metro area is home to over six million people making it the sixth-largest metro area in the country.

As the nation's capital, Washington, D.C. has a rich history in the United States with many national monuments and museums.