Commentary

National think tank: Why Raleigh should be among top five Amazon finalists

Image: City of Raleigh

There are lots of legitimate concerns about Raleigh’s efforts to woo a massive new 50,000 employee Amazon headquarters — the city and state’s already stretched and under-resourced infrastructure, the threat of more urban sprawl, and the costly incentives package that’s apparently being offered by state and local officials, to name three.

That said, it would appear that some people in the know think Raleigh is (or, at least, ought to be) a truly serious contender. In an article entitled “Here’s what happens when inclusion is factored into Amazon’s list of 20 HQ2 city finalists,” Raleigh makes the top five of the Brookings Institution, a venerable national think tank. This is from the article:

What good are the 50,000 new jobs the HQ2 is proposed to bring if the current population can’t access or benefit from them?

Whether or not Amazon can bring value to a city is really predicated on how much it contributes to and accelerates that place’s inclusivity—defined as how growth is distributed among different types of individuals. Bezos has an opportunity to provide a vision for an America that citizens and residents desperately need in this moment of political unrest, racial division, and global discord. Put simply, Bezos can bring disparate people together through work. Building off the strength that American cities’ diversity offer will give Bezos the moonshot and landing he sought through the competition. And if he is to build from the current diversity that the list* of 20 finalist cities has to offer, and indicate a serious focus on advancing inclusion, the list should be further winnowed down to these five cities (in no particular order):

  • Austin, TX
  • Raleigh, NC
  • Los Angeles, CA
  • Nashville, TN
  • Denver, CO

We based this chart below on the numerical diversity among the finalists, as well as how well these cities maximize their diversity based on a measure of inclusion. Population and unemployment data were used alongside more robust measures of inclusion. Through its Metro Monitor analysis, the Brookings Institution tracks the economic performance of the nation’s 100 largest metropolitan areas along three dimensions: growth, prosperity, and inclusion. It ranks cities partially from its inclusion indicators, which were employed for this exercise. Inclusion indicators measure how the benefits of growth and prosperity in a metropolitan economy—specifically, changes in employment and income—are distributed among individuals.

Click here to check out the chart and rest of the article.

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