Indianapolis is on Amazon's list of 20 cities considered for new headquarters

Zavian Tate, a student at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, pushes a large Amazon Dash button, in Birmingham, Ala. on Oct. 16, 2017. The buttons were part of the city's campaign to lure Amazon's HQ-2 to Birmingham. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson)
Indy is one of 20 finalists for Amazon HQ
Indy is an Amazon HQ finalist

INDIANAPOLIS (WTHR, CNBC) - Amazon said Thursday it narrowed the list of potential cities for its second headquarters to 20 cities - and Indianapolis made the cut.

Amazon said it will spend $5 billion in the city where it builds its second headquarters, and will employ 50,000 there.

"Today’s short list from Amazon makes clear that no matter what the final decision may be, Indianapolis is already a big winner," Mayor Joe Hogsett said in a statement. "Every day we are gaining more recognition as a growing tech hub, and I am proud that Central Indiana’s unique combination of connectivity, quality of life, and affordable living has once again put us on the global stage."

The full list of cities includes:

  • Atlanta, GA
  • Austin, TX
  • Boston, MA
  • Chicago, IL
  • Columbus, OH
  • Dallas, TX
  • Denver, CO
  • Indianapolis, IN
  • Los Angeles, CA
  • Miami, FL
  • Montgomery County, MD
  • Nashville, TN
  • Newark, NJ
  • New York City, NY
  • Northern Virginia, VA
  • Philadelphia, PA
  • Pittsburgh, PA
  • Raleigh, NC
  • Toronto, ON
  • Washington D.C.

Locally, the news was cause for celebration Thursday.

“It is the single largest economic development project in the history of the country so the fact that we are in the running the fact that we have punched above our weight, I find very revealing,” Mayor Hogsett said.

City officials have been quiet about what they submitted in the bid to lure Amazon, but the mayor says they have options.

“If they're looking for open space and horizontal growth we have sites throughout central Indiana that provide that. In the alternative if they are interested in less of a footprint but more vertical growth in a downtown area we have that as well,” said Hogsett.

Amazon in Seattle
An Amazon employee gives her dog a biscuit as the pair head into a company building, where dogs are welcome, in Seattle on Oct. 11, 2017. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)

Experts have speculated the old GMC Stamping Plant would be an ideal spot in Indy because it is centrally located, and has the acreage Amazon is looking for.

“They've been intrigued with what we have proposed so far, but now we have to show that we can execute it,” said Katie Culp of KSM Location Advisors.

The e-commerce giant received 238 proposals from cities in North America, many with lofty tax incentives and unique offers directed at CEO Jeff Bezos.

"Getting from 238 to 20 was very tough – all the proposals showed tremendous enthusiasm and creativity," Holly Sullivan, an executive with Amazon Public Policy, said in a statement.

The announcement didn't give an order for which cities are most likely to get the new headquarters, often referred to as HQ2, but a Ball State economist says he believes Indianapolis is in the top 10, maybe even the top 5.

"I believe the real contenders are probably Indianapolis, Columbus, Raleigh, Pittsburgh, Dallas, Nashville, Austin, Northern Virginia, Atlanta and Denver," Michael Hicks, director of Ball State’s Center for Business and Economic Research," said in a press release. "There are real location specific limitations on the other places; labor costs and/or scarcity of good sites, or deep fiscal troubles.

"Northern Virginia, Atlanta, Denver, Austin and Nashville are the most congested places remaining on the list," he continued. "They can all mitigate this with big construction projects, but I think they are less likely than the other five. Denver doesn’t give the company the time/zone geographic diversity I suspect they are looking for."

The company previously said it was looking at metropolitan areas with 1 million people and a stable, business-friendly environment. It also considered criteria including proximity to an airport and universities.

According to data from Develop Indy, Indianapolis saw the creation of more than 6,600 new jobs in 2017, more than half of which came from the tech sector.

"Today's announcement reaffirms that that opportunities for the Indianapolis Metro are endless when we work together as a region," Fishers Mayor Scott Fadness said in a statement after the announcement. Fadness also serves as chairman of the Central Indiana Council of Elected Officials. "It's an exciting day worth celebrating, and it’s my hope that we continue to have these types of opportunities to work regionally, put our best foot forward, and drive innovation and growth in our economy."

"We are thrilled to see Indianapolis on the list of finalists for Amazon’s second headquarters," Gov. Eric Holcomb said. "It speaks to Indiana’s growing reputation on the world stage as a great state to locate and grow a business. We look forward to working with the central Indiana region and Amazon as they continue to narrow their list of potential sites for HQ2."

The 20 cities that are moving on in the selection process will work with Amazon over the coming months to "evaluate the feasibility of a future partnership," the company said.

Amazon expects to make a final decision this year.