If metro Atlanta wins Amazon’s second headquarters and its promise of 50,000 jobs, it likely will be on the strength of its workforce, globally connected airport, ease of doing business and the capacity of Georgia Tech and other research universities to pump out talent.
But the Atlanta area will have to tangle with Boston, Chicago and Los Angeles for brain power, overcome cities like Austin and Denver with their reputations for being cool and weird, and New York and the Washington, D.C., area for their crowns as power centers for business and government elite.
So how does metro Atlanta stack up against its 19 competitors on Amazon’s short list? The Atlanta Journal-Constitution crafted ratings based on the tech giant’s stated desires, such as workforce, business climate and quality of life. But among the 20-some factors in evaluating the field, the AJC threw in a few of its own, such as the environment and diversity.
On measures of airport connectivity, educated workforce, quality of life, diversity and business climate, metro Atlanta acquits itself quite well, rating near the top in each. Atlanta is middle of the pack for housing affordability and cost of living. Traffic congestion isn’t our strong suit, but nor is it for other top contenders like Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles or Washington.
As Hala Moddelmog, the president and CEO of the Metro Atlanta Chamber scoped the field, she said she felt pretty good about the region’s chances. Some rivals don’t have transit systems as substantial as Atlanta’s – transit access is a priority in Amazon’s request for proposals – while others, she said, can’t match Atlanta’s airport or workforce.