Moody's Analytics: Austin-Round Rock is No. 1 for Amazon's HQ2

Austin leads the nation for landing Amazon.com Inc.’s second headquarters location, according to a data-driven report released by Moody’s Analytics on Thursday.

An analysis by Mark Zandi and Adam Ozimek listed Austin first, Atlanta second and Philadelphia third.

On Wednesday the Austin Chamber of Commerce confirmed the Austin-Round Rock Metropolitan Statistical Area will submit a presentation next week for Amazon’s second headquarters, expected to bring 50,000 jobs and a $5 billion capital investment to the winning region in the next 10-15 years. The chamber said 40-50 properties in the MSA were considered and will be narrowed down to the best the region has to offer.

More than 50 cities in the United States expressed interest, and bids are limited to one per MSA. Amazon said the decision for the second headquarters will be made in 2018.

The analysis began with the 68 metro areas with more than 1 million residents, the first criteria in Amazon’s request for proposals.

Moody’s then ranked each city from 1 to 5 on five of the criteria Amazon seeks for its HQ2 partner.

Excerpts from the analysis regarding Amazon’s five keys for HQ2 include:

  • Business environment—“The top three metro areas ranked by business environment are Austin, Nashville and Dallas. All three rank highly for job growth and have the highest possible scores for state and metro credit ratings. Austin and Dallas also benefit from the state’s generous use of business incentives.”

  • Human capital—“A skilled workforce is crucial for any company, and especially for one looking to eventually hire 50,000 skilled workers. The top three metro areas for human capital are Los Angeles, New York City and Washington, D.C. All three have a large number of major universities, including both top schools and schools that graduate many with relevant degrees.”

  • Cost—Figured into this category are the initial costs and ongoing costs of doing business, real estate costs, taxes, energy prices and unit labor costs. “The top three metro areas for cost are Buffalo, New York; Oklahoma City; and Memphis. The price of a single-family home in Buffalo is $91 per square foot compared, for example, with $362 in Los Angeles.”

  • Quality of life—Arts, entertainment, recreation, food, dining, school quality and poverty rates are factors in this category for the analysis. “The top three cities for quality of life are New York City, Seattle and San Francisco.”

  • Transportation—Convenient transit, mass transit and a major international airport, along with walkability are factors in the study. “The top three metro areas by transit access are San Francisco, Minneapolis and Seattle.”


“Austin finishes in first place, according to the overall rankings,” the Moody’s report states. “Austin has the highest score on business environment in the top 10, thanks to fast job growth, a dynamic tech economy and the high incentives Texas offers businesses.”
By Brian Rash
Brian has been a reporter and editor since 2012. He wrote about the music scene in Dallas-Fort Worth before becoming managing editor for the Graham Leader in Graham, Texas, in 2013. He relocated to Austin, Texas, in 2015 to work for Gatehouse Media's large design hub. He became the editor for the Lake Travis-Westlake publication of Community Impact in August 2018.


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