Amazon has completed the process of visiting all 20 cities that are finalists in the e-commerce giant's search for a second headquarters, sources close to the process told NBC News on Wednesday.
This pushes the Seattle-based company one step further in deciding which city will become “HQ2,” a move that would net a $5 billion investment and as many as 50,000 high-paying jobs, according to Amazon.
Regardless of who wins the golden ticket, several cities in the top 20 have already noted that simply making it onto Amazon's final list has led to an uptick in interest from other companies.
Newark, Philadelphia, and Austin all reported a surge in economic development inquiries since the HQ2 Top 20 List was released from Amazon in January. Development officials cite the publicity surrounding Amazon’s search for a new space as creating buzz around their communities.
In Newark, New Jersey, Mayor Ras Baraka told NBC News he had noticed a new level of interest from technology companies in particular.
“We’re seeing this halo effect, and we’re excited,” said Baraka. “It has provided renewed interest in the City of Newark. Our city is changing, and this buzz has helped change the perception.”
In Philadelphia, officials have seen a noticeable uptick in inquiries from businesses looking to open a new office.
“Since the HQ2 bid, we have experienced a number of companies who reference the Amazon pitch as a catalyst for their interest in Philadelphia as a location for business operations,” Lauren Cox from the City of Philadelphia’s Department of Commerce told NBC News. “One London company, which had Philadelphia on its short list last fall, already began its move to the city in January.”
On social media, the city of Austin, Texas has also seen a public relations boom from the connection to Amazon’s HQ2. "We have tracked about 8,600 articles and more than 7 million social media shares mentioning Austin and Amazon HQ2,” said Mike Berman from the Austin Chamber of Commerce.
Although Amazon has remained tight-lipped about the decision-making process for its next headquarters, it has publicly said that the spirit of the search is to find “a city that is excited to work with us and where our customers, employees, and the community can all benefit.”