Indy's an Amazon finalist: Do we have a shot at getting the new headquarters?

Posted at 9:27 AM, Jan 18, 2018

INDIANAPOLIS -- Indianapolis was named among 20 finalists for the new Amazon headquarters, set to begin operation in 2019.

Amazon announced the news Thursday morning, saying company officials narrowed the list down from 238 to 20. 

Some other notable finalists are larger cities with a ton to offer Amazon, like Chicago, Washington, DC, New York, or Boston. Does Indianapolis have a shot at getting the Amazon headquarters?

Documents provided by Amazon shines a light on exactly what the multi-billion-dollar company wants from its host city. 

Amazon has the following requirements from the host site:

  • Within 30 miles from the population center
  • Within 45 minutes from an international airport
  • Not more than 1-2 miles from major highways and arterial roads
  • Access to mass transit (rail, train, subway/metro or bus routes) on site

Watch how Indianapolis stacks up on these preferences and read more below:




Within 30 miles from the population center:

Does Indianapolis have it?

Yes. It's unknown exactly where Indianapolis would plan to put the new Amazon headquarters, but no matter where, it would be within 30 miles from the population center. 
Assuming the center is downtown, you could put the site in Edinburgh, Indiana and it would still be within 30 miles.

Indianapolis partnered with Fishers city officials on the bid, so it's possible the new site could be in Fishers. If so, that would still be well within 30 miles of downtown Indy. 

Within 45 minutes from an international airport

Does Indianapolis have it?

Yes. The Indianapolis International Airport, located on the city's west side, is within 45 minutes of anywhere in Marion County. It's still 45 minutes away from most Fishers locations, too, depending on traffic. But telling Amazon that the new headquarters would be within 45 minutes is not a tough sell.

A sticky point with this preference is the "international" part. Yes, Indianapolis' airport is technically international, but its flights outside the U.S. pale in comparison to what Washington DC or New York can offer.

Not more than 1-2 miles from major highways and arterial roads

Does Indianapolis have it?

Yes. Indianapolis has this one in spades. Between I-465, I-70, I-65, I-69, and I-74, there is no shortage of interstates in central Indiana to put the headquarters. It's hard to find a spot on a map that isn't close to a major highway. 

Access to mass transit (rail, train, subway/metro or bus routes) on site

Does Indianapolis have it?

Well, this was fun while it lasted. Indianapolis has many great things, including all the aforementioned ease of access and major highways to get around. But what it still struggles at is public transit. But Indianapolis is working on it. Marion County voters passed a transit referendum in the 2016 election, 59-41. 

The tax increase will allow the city to expand IndyGo bus services, including the new Red Line, which runs from Broad Ripple to the University of Indianapolis via College Avenue and Meridian Street. A Purple Line, which would run from Lawrence to downtown Indianapolis, is also planned to open in 2020.

Amazon also required 500,000 square feet of space for its initial building in 2019, then up to 8 million square feet beyond 2027. There are undeveloped spots in Boone and Hamilton counties (hello, Fishers!) but one spot inside the I-465 loop could work -- the former General Motors plant at 340 S. White River Parkway West Drive. The 103 acres on the former General Motors lot is nearly 10 times the initial size Amazon wanted for its headquarters.

Amazon also listed other decision drivers in its announcement, asking cities to address in their submission bids the following:

  • Site/Building 
  • Incentives 
  • Labor Force
  • Logistics
  • Time to Operations
  • Cultural Community Fit 
  • Community/Quality of Life 

Indianapolis and the 19 other cities still in the running have put in a lot of work to try to entice Amazon to come. What's in it for them? Amazon laid out the details for its current headquarters, located in Seattle. 

Indianapolis being in the top 20 is a surprise to many, as a November report from Sperling's Best Places ranked Indianapolis the 34th-best location for Amazon's headquarters. 

Three Indiana cities submitted bids: Indianapolis, Jeffersonville and Gary. Indiana Governor Eric Holcomb released a statement on why Indiana should have the new headquarters.

"We are thrilled to see Indianapolis on the list of finalists for Amazon’s second headquarters. 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."

Indianapolis Mayor Joe Hogsett released the following statement: 

"Today’s short list from Amazon makes clear that no matter what the final decision may be, Indianapolis is already a big winner. 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. I want to thank Mayor Scott Fadness and our regional partners for their tireless work, and I look forward to continuing our unprecedented collaboration to promote the limitless future of the Crossroads of America.”

Seems like those who were backing Indy's bid for the Amazon headquarters weren't surprised at all by Thursday's news. Take a look:



Indianapolis is vying to host the next Amazon headquarters with the following 20 cities:

  • Atlanta
  • Austin, Texas
  • Boston
  • Chicago
  • Columbus, Ohio
  • Dallas
  • Denver
  • Indianapolis
  • Los Angeles
  • Miami
  • Montgomery County, Maryland
  • Nashville, Tennessee
  • Newark
  • New York
  • Northern Virginia, Virginia
  • Philadelphia
  • Pittsburgh
  • Raleigh, North Carolina
  • Toronto, Ontario
  • Washington, DC.

So does it have a shot? Director of Ball State’s Center for Business and Economic Research Michael Hicks says yes.

“I believe the real contenders are probably Indianapolis, Columbus, Raleigh, Pittsburgh, Dallas, Nashville, Austin, Northern Virginia, Atlanta and Denver,” said Hicks in a press release from Ball State University. “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 list,” Hicks said. "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."

Hicks said the strongest locations aren't the ones with the big incentive packages, but rather the places that have been doing "robust quality of place work for decades."

“This is where people are moving, and this short list has developable space, minimal congestion problems and large availability of residential development to house 30,000 college educated workers and their families.”

A final decision is expected later in 2018. 

MORE AMAZON HQ2 COVERAGE | Amazon, Indiana? Could Indy get the next Amazon headquarters?Indianapolis leaders make quiet Amazon project pitch, Gary appeals to virtue of company | Indy, Fishers mayors lead effort to attract second Amazon headquarters | Indy ranks low on list of Amazon HQ2 contenders, but not last

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