This whole thing is a circus by Amazon but smart on their part from a business standpoint. Competition is going to get them the best deal. If you look at the list, there are so many contradictions to what the RFP requested and what the final list of 20 was. So they had to break it down to 20 and make it look fair, keep this story going and spread the love around geographically ranging across a spectrum of cities.
NYC, LA, Chicago and DC - obviously
Boston (they are already putting in a large campus), Austin, Raleigh, Denver
Majors if you don't want to be in LA/Chicago/DC or NYC Area but want everything a major city can offer
ATL, DAL, MIA & PHL - I believe the winner comes out of this group
Wild Cards to make it look like some smaller cities have a chance and keep the suspense building
CMH, IND, Nashville & PIT - (you could have swapped any of these out with the likes of MSP, CLE, DET, KC, STL, MEM or Cincy for example) but you pick a few smaller up and coming towns to build the excitement
Toronto - just because. No way they pick a Canadian city and deal with the currency and labor US vs Canada headache for so many employees
I don't think Toronto will get the HQ but here are some benefits to opening it in the Toronto Area.
While Toronto is also expensive and not offering any tax incentives to Amazon here are some benefits.
- 20-25% discount on currency right off the bat.
- No requirement for health insurance for employees like needed in the US. Amazon would have to provide extended health packages that cover prescription drugs and dental, and that's it.
- Canada is far more immigrant friendly than the US at this time.
- The GTA, especially the Kitchener/Waterloo area (an hour west of Toronto) has many tech startups and the universities graduate a lot of local talent in tech.
- Canada is negotiating or has negotiated Free Trade Agreements with Great Britain (post-brexit), the EU and China, whereas the US in becoming more insular.
- Bezos does not like Trump and might want to stick it to him.