(American Prospect) -- Trying to figure out where Amazon will set down roots or, depending on your perspective, spread its tentacles, is the newest capitalistic cage match. Nineteen American cities and one Canadian metro area, down from the original 238, now go into overdrive to secure what promises to one of the most transformative economic decisions in the world: a single $5 billion investment in a second headquarters that brings 50,000 high-tech workers and their families, plus thousands more jobs in associated sectors.
This competition spurred the type of collaboration between private sector and political leaders that only develops when a trophy like an Amazon comes into view, according to Susan Wachter, a University of Pennsylvania Wharton School professor of real estate and finance and co-director of Penn Institute for Urban Research, which assembled a group of urban experts to weigh in on the Amazon competition.
In a conversation with The American Prospect, Wachter uses the word “transformative” often to illustrate what the next Amazon outpost can expect—for better and worse. Certainly, becoming Amazon’s HQ2 would come with a long list of bragging rights, beginning with a straight shot to world-class status (except for finalists New York, Los Angeles, and perhaps Washington, that already hold that distinction) for the winner. Amazon may even offer or stimulate major investments in education, infrastructure, and arts and culture.
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