Cities That Bid on Amazon's HQ2 Need Silicon Nicknames, So Let's Give Them Some
What does it say about the many, many U.S. cities who have declared their intentions (sometimes a bit too loudly) to be the choice for Amazon’s second headquarters? For many of them, it’s a way to signal to the rest of the country that they’re capable of hosting one of the most influential companies in the world and everything that entails. Perhaps more than that, they’re signaling a desire to be known as a tech hub.
For some of those cities, such as Los Angeles and Dallas, they can already boast that reputation. For most, however, they’re still trying to get a foothold in the industry of the future, not to mention become a destination for tech workers and their families.
However, you can’t just say “we’re a tech hub!” You need a hook. You need a slogan, or even a catchphrase. Something that hooks people just enough to make them pay attention. It doesn’t sound very exciting when you say “the San Jose area,” but there’s something about calling it “Silicon Valley” that gives that region instant credibility (when they’re not coming up with terrible ideas no one asked for).
Because of how synonymous Silicon Valley has become with being a bonafide tech epicenter, Silicon [Fill In The Blank] has also become the go-to shorthand for all the new tech hubs that have popped up in its wake. New York City has Silicon Alley. Los Angeles has Silicon Beach. Seattle has Silicon Canal. There’s even some you might not have heard of, including Silicon Forest (Portland), Silicon Slopes (Salt Lake City region), and Silicon Hills (Austin region).
So what about these other cities? These Amazon-hosting hopefuls who want to be known as The Next Silicon Valley? What should they call themselves? We at Neighborhoods.com are here to help with some suggestions. FYI, we’re not above making some pretty bad puns, so just consider yourself warned.
Atlanta has long been considered one of the frontrunners for Amazon HQ2. They provide an eastern counterbalance to the Seattle HQ with a world-class airport and a healthy economy. The city has pitched a site near the MARTA station in Dunwoody, the old GM plant site in Doraville, and even an airport-adjacent site. Atlanta has already been a U.S. city on the rise, getting Amazon would help take it to another level.
Tech Nickname: Silicon Peach
Buffalo & Rochester, NY
The two Upstate New York cities are submitting a joint bid in what would be considered an epic upset if chosen. This region suffered for a long time as the northern edge of the Rust Belt but it’s also known as the place where iconic U.S. companies such as Eastman Kodak and American Express got their start. Landing Amazon wouldn’t just be a coup, it would be a hard reboot for the entire Upstate.
Tech Nickname: Silicon Empire
The Queen City is not messing around about their interest in Amazon. They’ve created a hashtag (#CLTIsPrime), a website, and bus ads (how would Amazon see those?). This North Carolina metro has a lot going for it, with a young workforce, great weather, and lots of available space for infrastructure. The move could also give Charlotte a big leg-up in the region as tech workers consider where to live without feeling the need to leave the area.
Tech Nickname: Sili-Queen City
Chicago is going all-out to woo Amazon. They’ve called in their biggest political and business big guns to spread the message. They’ve offered up at least four potential sites that could work. They’ve got the talent pool and transportation demands that Amazon wants. However, they also lack the tax-friendly status Jeff Bezos likes and Chicago has a history of shady dealings and political rigmaroles. Unlike Seattle, Amazon won’t be able to remake Chicago in its image and perhaps that defeats part of the purpose.
Tech Nickname: The Second Silicon
This is no mistake by the lake, Cleveland is making a strong push to bring Amazon to Ohio. You probably don’t think tech when you think of Cleveland but then again things are changing there. LeBron James is ready for that photo op with Jeff Bezos. The city has strong numbers when it comes to affordable housing, quality of life, development sites, and proximity to airports. However, it lags in a few other areas, including mass transit and existing tech workforce.
Tech Nickname: The C-licon City, Silicon Land
A lot of people see Denver as a trendy pick for Amazon. The demographics and lifestyle line up with Seattle, it has the infrastructure and transit capabilities, and it’s got a thriving, young workforce. As for quality of life, have you seen Colorado? The one drawback may be that the city and state are offering up land around the city as options but nothing within the downtown region, which Amazon may prefer.
Tech Nickname: Silicon Mountain
Detroit is known for the auto industry and unfortunately what happened when that industry dried up. It’s been going through some tough times and could use a boost. Is there any city in America that could benefit more from the arrival of a company like Amazon? Think of the impact it could make. The problem is, can a city in Detroit’s current condition give Amazon what it needs out of the gate? That’s probably part of the reason it’s partnering with nearby Windsor to spice up the bid.
Tech Nickname: Sili-Car City, Silicon Motown
While some are assuming that Indianapolis is “just happy to be here,” there are some in the community who think it’s time for Indiana’s big city to revolutionize the way it’s seen. The growing tech sector and strong university base is a nice draw, it’s just a question of whether or not Amazon thinks this is a city for them. Plus, there are major concerns among neighborhoods that Indianapolis isn’t ready to take on an employer of that magnitude.
Tech Nickname: Silicon Crossroads
Kansas City, MO
Kansas City Mayor Sly James wanted the city to stand out in their bid to win over Amazon so much that he bought and reviewed over 1,000 items on the company’s website. The city is also willing to do more than buy up Amazon’s inventory, they’re offering big tax breaks and plenty of potential land, too. Maybe they should throw in some barbecue coupons to literally sweeten the deal further.
Tech Nickname: Silicon Barbecue
When you think of Memphis, you might think of two things: Elvis Presley and FedEx. The city is so adamant about making Amazon that third thing, they’ve been running a #MemphisDelivers campaign and they’ve already approved an incentive package worth at least $60 million. The idea of Amazon and FedEx shipping stuff out of the same airport sounds like a nightmare, but maybe there’s a partnership ahead.
Tech Nickname: Silicon River
Everywhere from Palm Beach to Doral to Broward County have been thrown out as potential landing spots for Amazon. Miami is hoping that their sunny climate will provide a nice alternative from the gloomy Seattle skies, not to mention a southeastern counterbalance to the Pacific Northwest. The city and region is also sure to talk up the fact that they have three airports and the soon-to-open Brightline commuter train to connect everything. There’s also lots of undeveloped land just waiting for a company like Amazon to come along.
Tech Nickname: Silicon Beach 2, Silicon Ocean
When you think of Nashville you think of country music, but perhaps you might think Tech Capital of the South if Amazon ends up here. The state is tax-friendly, business-friendly, and offers an eastern location to offset Seattle. There are some concerns about current workforce abilities and transit systems. Perhaps if they play up the Music City angle for a company that sells a whole lot of music online, that might win them over.
Tech Nickname: Silicon South
New Jersey’s largest city is well-known for its airport, easy access to transportation routes, and close proximity to New York City. The Gateway City also has the state willing to give up $7 billion in tax breaks to the potential employer. Amazon already has a lot of employees and space in the region and it could be a great alternative to trying to fit into New York’s crowded landscape. The tech scene is nominal but there’s a lot of talent in Manhattan that might be willing to take the bridges and tunnels to join up.
Tech Nickname: Silicon Gateway
It wouldn’t make much sense for San Francisco to try to delineate itself differently than Silicon Valley. Clearly they’re crossing over already. But what about The City’s neighbor to the east? Oakland is just far enough away and distinct enough from San Mateo County to offer up its own tech center. We know that some other East Bay cities also want to get in on the Amazon action, but Oakland could be homebase while everyone else crowds SF and San Jose. Let them have their valley; Oakland should grab the chance to claim this Bay Area as their own.
Tech Nickname: Silicon Bay, East Silicon Valley
Orange County, CA
Irvine not only thinks they’ve got a shot at Amazon HQ2 but they also think they can outdo Los Angeles to get it. The city doesn’t own enough land to satisfy Amazon’s demands but they could work with local developers such as the Irvine Co. and FivePoint to consolidate and create property. They could also partner with surrounding cities such as Costa Mesa to make it more of a county-wide proposal.
Tech Nickname: Silicon County
Not one to be outdone by NYC, Philly wants in on the Amazon action as well. They’re offering up 10 years of property tax abatement to go with their strong university talent, transportation access, and geographic sweet spot near the east coast. The city is a pretty strong performer in Moody’s analysis of the potential hosts and could swoop in for an upset victory. You know, Rocky-style.
Tech Nickname: Silicon Birthplace, Silicon Process (because Sixers fans always #TrustTheProcess)
While it might not make sense geographically for Amazon to consider Phoenix, the Arizona city brings plenty of positives with it. They came close to getting Tesla to open a plant there and have their economic plan ready to go. They have plenty of access to good universities and tech talent, not to mention a plethora of undevelopment sites just waiting to host a company like Amazon. A few ideal sites are within close proximity to transit and a major airport as well. The company could also take advantage of spreading itself out among the surrounding cities of Tempe, Glendale, and Scottsdale, if it made sense.
Tech Nickname: Silicon Canyon
The state capital has a giant arena and 184 acres of land just sitting there for the taking. They would love Amazon to do that taking and help them challenge California’s Big Four cities for economic importance. As far as a nickname is concerned, well, it’s right there in Sacramento’s name.
Tech Nickname: Silicon-mento
San Diego, CA
San Diego has made its bid to be Amazon’s new home and they’ve got a lot to offer. It’s hard to beat the quality of life, and the region is itching for the chance to prove itself more worthy than its metropolis neighbor to the north. Not only does the city has plenty of room Downtown but there’s also that former Qualcomm Stadium site, where the SoccerCity proposal may still fall through. Nearby Chula Vista might also present a $400 million incentive and development package to sweeten the deal.
Tech Nickname: Silicon Diego (we admit that one needs work), Silicon Vista
The Lou has a lot of what Amazon is looking for. It’s business-friendly, has a strong population and workforce, and good transit. Will the tech company want to set up shop on the Mississippi River instead of the East Coast, though? The city known for Anheuser-Busch and Purina could sure use a shot in the arm when it comes to tech companies. Perhaps Amazon sees potential in the Arch, which kinda sorta looks like their own logo.
Tech Nickname: Silicon Gateway (also)
Tampa seems like a longshot, even if it’s partnering with nearby St. Petersburg on the pitch. There are concerns about the local talent pool as well as the ability to deliver on transportations requirements. Then again, if Amazon did pick the area, it could revolutionize the region’s appeal and place in the Florida hierarchy.
Tech Nickname: Silicon Bay, Silicon Gulf
The “other” Arizona city, Tucson proved how motivated they were for Amazon to consider them that they shipped a 21-foot, $2,000 saguaro cactus to Seattle. Amazon sent it back, citing that they couldn’t accept the gift, but the city isn’t giving up hope. The region’s economic development agency is working with state, regional, and local partners to determine what incentives, aside from local fauna, they can deliver to remake Tucson as a tech center.
Tech Nickname: Silicon Desert
The nation’s capital offers all the urban and infrastructure needs that Amazon wants, as well as some pretty strong tax breaks for tech companies. Their official bid offers up four potential sites spread across some of its trendiest neighborhoods: Navy Yard, NoMa, Capitol Hill East, and Columbia Heights. D.C.’s expensive housing market could pose a major issue, but perhaps Bezos likes the idea of setting up shop close to his other investment, The Washington Post.