Sorry Toronto: For Amazon HQ2 watchers, its Northern Virginia that checks the most boxes

Sorry Toronto: For Amazon HQ2 watchers, it\s Northern Virginia that checks the most boxes
Amazons New HQ2 Could Land in Chocolate City
RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK – Another economic study puts the Triangle near the top of metro areas that a variety of data indicates it should be a top choice for Amazon as it nears the announcement for that 50,000-job HQ2 project.

Raleigh and Durham-Chapel Hill not only are among the top 20 “Tech Towns” as picked by a high-tech industry trade group, they also rank higher than most of the other 20 finalists for the HQ2 finalists.

Several studies have ranked Raleigh and/or the Triangle highly for a variety of reasons from quality of life to tech work force to housing when compared to other possible HQ destinations, so chalk this study up as more good publicity for the RTP area even if Jeff Bezos, Amazon founder and CEO, decides to build that multi-billion-dollar project somewhere else.

Amazons HQ2 Will Worsen The Housing Crisis, New Report Says

Amazon has said it is considering the Triangle as a destination and reportedly has looked at sites across the region. A decision about the HQ2 winner has been promised by the end of the year.

But according to the Computing Technology Industry Association (CompTIA) Raleigh offers “the best quality of life for tech workers, factoring in salaries, job availability, job growth and cost of living.”

Not all of the HQ2 final 20 made the CompTIA list. But here’s how those selected ranked among the “Tech Towns” with their standing in the CompTIA rankings in parenthesis:

No. 1 on the “Tech Town” list is Charlotte, making North Carolina one of only two states to have three “Tech Towns.” The other is Colorado with Denver, Bolder and Colorado Springs.

Washington, D.C. and northern Virginia/Maryland have emerged as two of the favorites for the HQ2 project, according to odds makers, other surveys and predictions.

With Amazon’s HQ2 announcement expected any day, nonprofit research group Urban Institute has released a new report about what the tech giant could do to Washington’s housing shortage if we’re chosen for its next headquarters.

Sure, HQ2 would bring a purported 50,000 jobs and a larger tax base, but Urban Institute concludes that if Amazon comes here, the Washington-Metropolitan region will need more than 275,000 additional housing units by 2025 to keep up with the increased demand. Currently, only 170,000 are expected to be produced by 2026.

We thought it would be useful to bring some basic evidence to the table as a starting point for conversation about how to make this a positive development for the region as opposed to a threat, says lead researcher Margery Turner.

This isnt an issue that has sprung up overnight. Though Washington’s pace of employment growth has recently slowed and fell behind the national growth rate in 2012, the report concludes that because the past two decades have brought robust job growth to the region, we can still expect a deficit of 80,000 housing units by 2026 even if we aren’t chosen for Amazon’s next big hub. 

Also a big factor in our current housing shortage: Our area is still rebounding form the slow-down in construction that happened during the Great Recession. Although development is coming back, the Urban Institute finds that builders are proceeding more slowly and cautiously than previously.

The group finds that the number of households in the metropolitan area earning above $150,000 has grown by 34 percent since 2000, while low-income households have only increased by 17 percent. According to the report, the influx of  high-income residents moving into our region has bumped those with less buying power farther and farther away from DC and its close-in suburbs.

But rather than exacerbate the problem, Turner says she hopes Amazon’s interest in Washington may encourage local policymakers to finally address our housing shortage in a meaningful way. “The moment is really right for the Washington region,” she says. “It’s a serious problem that demands attention, but it’s not out of control. It’s manageable if the jurisdictions come together to tackle this challenge.”