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Cities that didn’t win HQ2 shouldn’t be counted out

The greater than year-long dance between cities and Amazon for its second headquarters is lastly over, with New York Metropolis and Washington, DC, capturing the massive prize. With one of many largest financial improvement windfalls in a era on the road, 238 cities used each tactic within the ebook to courtroom the corporate – together with providing to rename a metropolis “Amazon” and appointing Jeff Bezos “mayor for all times.”

Now that the method, and hysteria, are over, and cities have stopped asking “how can we get Amazon,” we’d wish to ask a unique query: How can cities construct stronger start-up ecosystems for the Amazon but to be constructed?

In September 2017, Amazon introduced that it might search a second headquarters. However slightly than being the everyday website choice course of, this could change into a extremely publicized Starvation Video games-esque situation.

An RFP was proffered on what the corporate sought, and it included every thing any good urbanist would need, with walkability, transportation and cultural traits on the docket. However in fact, incentives had been additionally excessive on the checklist.

Amazon might have been a transformational catalyst for a plethora of cities all through the US, however as a substitute, it selected two famous person cities: the primary and 5 metro areas by GDP which, mixed, quantities to an almost $2 trillion GDP. These two metro areas even have among the highest actual property costs within the nation, a swath of excessive paying jobs and naturally energy — monetary and political — shut at hand.

Maybe the take-away for cities isn’t that we should always all be so targeted on hooking that large fish from afar, however as a substitute that we must be rising it in our personal waters. Amazon itself is a superb instance of this. It’s value remembering that over the course of 1 / 4 century, Amazon went from a storage in Seattle’s suburbs to consuming 16 p.c — or 81 million sq. toes — of the town’s downtown. On the opposite finish of the spectrum, the biggest international expertise firm in 1994 (the yr of Amazon’s delivery) was Netscape, which not exists.

The upshot is that cities that rely solely on attracting large expertise corporations are normally too late.

On the Nationwide League of Cities, we predict there are methods to increase the pie that don’t reinforce present spatial inequalities. That is precisely the concept behind the launch of our city innovation ecosystems commitments course of. With assist from the Schmidt Futures Basis, fifty cities, starting from rural townships, faculty cities, and main metros, have joined with over 200 native companions and leveraged over $100 million in regional and nationwide sources to assist younger companies, leverage expertise and increase STEM schooling and workforce coaching for all.

The investments these cities are making right now could actually be the precursor to among the largest tech corporations of the longer term.

With that concept in thoughts, listed here are eight cities that didn’t win HQ2 bids however are making certain their cities will probably be ready to create the subsequent tranche of high-growth startups. 


Austin simply constructed a medical college adjoining to a tier one analysis college, the College of Texas. It’s the primary such mission to be accomplished in America in over fifty years. To make sure the addition interprets into financial alternative for the town, Austin’s public, non-public and civic leaders have come collectively to create Capital City Innovation to launch the town’s first Innovation District on the new medical college. It will assist increase the town’s already world class startup ecosystem into the well being and wellness markets.


Baltimore is residence to over $2 billion in tutorial analysis, rating it third within the nation behind Boston and Philadelphia. To be able to guarantee everybody participates within the increasing research-based startup ecosystem, the town is remodeling group recreation facilities into maker and expertise coaching facilities to attach deprived youth and households to new abilities and careers in expertise. The Rec-to-Tech Initiative will start with group design classes at 4 recreation facilities, in partnership with the Digital Harbor Foundation, to create a feasibility research and implementation plan to overview for additional growth.


The 120-acre Buffalo Niagara Medical Middle (BNMC) is residence to eight tutorial establishments and hospitals and over 150 non-public expertise and well being corporations. To make sure Buffalo’s startups replicate the variety of its inhabitants, the Innovation Center at BNMC has simply introduced a brand new program to supply free house and mentorship to 10 excessive potential minority- and/or women-owned start-ups.


Like Seattle, actual property improvement in Denver is rising at a feverish charge. And whereas the expansion is bringing new alternative, the town is increasing quicker than the workforce can preserve tempo. To make sure a sustainable progress trajectory, Denver has recruited the Next Generation City Builders to coach college students and retrain present employees to fill high-demand jobs in structure, design, development and transportation. 


With a inhabitants of 180,000, Windfall is residence to eight larger schooling establishments – together with Brown University and the Rhode Island School of Design – making it a hub for each technical and artistic expertise. Town of Windfall, in collaboration with its larger schooling establishments and two hospital programs, has created a brand new public-private-university partnership, the Urban Innovation Partnership, to collectively contribute and assist the town’s rising innovation financial system. 


Pittsburgh could have as soon as been often known as a metal city, however right now it’s a international mecca for robotics analysis, with over four.5 occasions the nationwide common robotics R&D inside its borders. Like Baltimore, Pittsburgh is making a extra inclusive innovation financial system by means of a Rec-to-Tech program that may re-invest within the metropolis’s 10 leisure facilities, connecting college students and oldsters to the talents wanted to take part within the financial system of the longer term. 


Tampa is already residence to 30,000 technical and scientific guide and laptop design jobs — and that quantity is rising. To fulfill future demand and make sure the area has an inclusive progress technique, the town of Tampa, with 13 college, civic and personal sector companions, has introduced “Future Innovators of Tampa Bay.” The brand new six-year initiative seeks to supply the chance for each one of many Tampa Bay Area’s 600,000 Ok-12 college students to be skilled in digital creativity, invention and entrepreneurship.

These eight cities assist exhibit the innovation we’re seeing on the bottom now, all all through the nation. The seeds of success have been planted with folks, partnerships and public management on the fore. Maybe they didn’t land HQ2 this time, however once we quick ahead to 2038 — and the seek for Argo AISparkCognition or Welltok’s new headquarters is properly underway — the groundwork may have been laid for cities with robust ecosystems already in place to compete on an excellent enjoying area.

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About Alejandro Bonaparte

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