BusinessHot Sheet

How bad does Denver want Amazon HQ2? Not so bad, survey says

Author: Mark Harden - April 19, 2018 - Updated: April 19, 2018

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Associates move bins filled products at the loading dock of Amazon’s new fulfillment center in Livonia, Mich. (Todd McInturf/Detroit News via AP)

Amazon HQ2 = 50,000 jobs; $5 billion in investment. The potential benefits of landing Amazon.com Inc.’s second headquarters have been touted endlessly.

And Denver has been picked by Amazon as one of 20 North American finalist areas for the e-commerce giant’s HQ2 complex, thanks to a heavily redacted bid submitted by the Metro Denver Economic Development Corp. Seattle-based Amazon is expected to choose the host city later this year.

But as it turns out, we’re not at all sure we want the thing.

That’s according to a new survey of 7,397 people nationwide commissioned by American City Business Journals, the publisher of the Denver Business Journal and dozens of other business publications nationwide.

Says Charlotte, North Carolina-based ACBJ:

“The survey was conducted from March 30 through April 3 and was designed to gauge each city’s enthusiasm — and willingness to make sacrifices — to land the Seattle-based company’s eye-popping … new campus.”

It found that only 35 percent of Denver-area residents “strongly support” winning HQ2. That’s lower than any of the 19 other finalist areas surveyed by ACBJ and North Carolina’s Elon University.

The only other finalist cities with less than 40 percent strong support for landing HQ2 are Austin, Texas (36 percent); Los Angeles and Boston (both 38 percent); and New York and Washington, D.C. (both 39 percent).

A number of analysts have pointed to one of three finalist sites in and around D.C. as Amazon’s most-likely choice, in part given that company founder and CEO Jeff Bezos owns the Washington Post as well as a lavish home in D.C.

Earlier this week, a report from The Conference Board — the nonprofit business research association best known for issuing the Leading Economic Indicators and Consumer Confidence Index reports — said that, “given the relatively large number of (want) ads for headquarter caliber occupations and the growth rate in those ads, the Washington, D.C., metro area and Boston seem the most likely candidates for a second headquarters.”

On the other hand, the ACBJ survey shows strong support north of 50 percent for HQ2 in three cities: Atlanta and Pittsburgh (both 52 percent) and Indianapolis (51 percent).

Despite the undeniable economic explosion that any city would experience from HQ2, many have expressed concern about the impacts on housing costs, crowding and traffic.

Even Gov. John Hickelooper has voiced reservations about Colorado winning the Amazon complex.

“There will be a sense of relief if they choose somewhere else, because there are a lot of challenges and lot of hard work we will be avoiding,” The Denver Post quoted the governor as saying  in a January talk at the City Club of Denver.

Other findings in the ACBJ survey about Denver:

  • 86 percent of residents surveyed said they would not be willing to pay more in taxes to fund financial incentives for Amazon. (Any incentives that Colorado may have offered to the Seattle online behemoth have been kept secret so far.)
  • And 61 percent say that HQ2 would have a long-term effect on Denver’s cost of living.

Mark Harden

Mark Harden

Mark Harden is managing editor of Colorado Politics. He previously was news director at the Denver Business Journal; city editor, online news editor, state editor, national editor and popular music critic at The Denver Post; and an editor and reporter at newspapers in the Seattle area and San Francisco.