Amazon’s HQ2 is (finally) announced

After a year-long search, Amazon has chosen New York City and Northern Virginia as the two locations for its split headquarters.

The company already has footholds in both locations. Karen Weise and J. David Goodman report for the New York Times that Amazon has about 1,800 employees working in advertising, fashion, and publishing in New York, as well as 2,500 corporate and technical employees in the Washington, DC area.

Multiple reports suggest that Amazon decided to split HQ2 between two cities on the East Coast to make it easier to find tech talent. In fact, PayScale had previously predicted—based on each city's existing talent pool—that HQ2 would move to either Boston; Washington, DC; New York; Austin, Texas; Chicago; or Dallas.

Splitting HQ2 might also keep Amazon from being blamed for all of the "housing and traffic woes of dominating a single area," write Weise and Goodman. "Even if the most obvious reasons appear to be about attracting more tech workers, the P.R. and government incentives benefits could help, too," points out Jed Kolko, chief economist at Indeed. And with major offices in two cities, local governments "might feel pressure to increase the incentives they are offering Amazon," he adds.

Higher ed is not a neutral bystander to this spectacle. Amazon's new campus will bring a boom in opportunities for internships, good jobs for grads, and corporate training programs. And in each city, local colleges were one of the primary criteria Amazon said it used for its decision.

Read more: How HQ2 will affect local colleges

"People are sort of on pins and needles," said Jay Brodsky, an Arlington resident, shortly before Amazon made its final announcement. "It's almost like people want it to happen, and are afraid of what would happen if it does."

Among those afraid are companies in New York and DC, write Valerie Bolden-Barrett and Katie Clarey for HR Dive. "In today's tight market, attracting and retaining people is a core strategic initiative for many organizations, but might become even more imperative for companies who find themselves competing with Amazon in the new year," notes Katie Bardaro, chief economist at PayScale.

Bolden-Barrett and Clarey write that companies will need to consider how to both retain current employees and attract new ones. Employers will need to think about how they can foster strong, positive workplace cultures and attract employees with a healthy work-life balance, for instance.

"In the short term, it's going to be great for employees and net negative for other companies trying to hire in that space," says Moritz Kothe, CEO of company review platform kununu. "Long term, the talent pool will be bigger and more mature so it should be better for companies, too" (Weise/Goodman, New York Times, 11/5; Bolden-Barret/Clarey, HR Dive, 11/6).

Also see: What Amazon's HQ2 process can teach colleges about partnering with corporations


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