In early September Amazon.com Inc. (NASDAQ: AMZN) announced that it was seeking bids from U.S. cities willing to become the company’s second corporate headquarters (HQ2). The bid form was posted online and the bidding closed last Thursday with 238 bids submitted.
Only seven states — Arkansas, Hawaii, Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, Vermont, Wyoming — did not produce a single bid. One of Amazon’s requirements was a city with a population of about a million. None of the wallflowers has such a city, and Arkansas, home to rival Wal-Mart Stores Inc. (NYSE: WMT), was not going to enter the bidding in any event.
Amazon said it would invest up to $5 billion and create up to 50,000 jobs in its selected HQ2 city. That got a lot of attention from U.S. cities eager to boost their economies.
Some of the cities submitting bids were Atlanta, Austin, Boston, Chicago, Denver, Houston, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, New York, Salt Lake City, San Francisco-Oakland, and Washington, D.C.
One of the more interesting proposals came from Puerto Rico, currently struggling with basic services like water and power distribution following Hurricane Maria. The country is offering the site of a former U.S. naval station in the city of Ceiba, which is home to just 13,000 people and an hour from the nearest international airport.
Puerto Rico doesn’t stand much of a chance, according to a report at Fast Company. The country is in no position to compete with the massive tax breaks on offer from many other bidders, but it offers something the others don’t — good karma:
Companies like Tesla and Alphabet have been jumping at the opportunity to help the American citizens who live on the island–with Tesla sending Powerwall batteries and Alphabet hoping to launch internet by balloon. This could be Amazon’s big chance to make real lasting change in Puerto Rico—and rack up some much-needed good karma points for the company. That, along with a great location and the opportunity to build infrastructure to Amazon’s exacting specifications, could put Puerto Rico at the head of the pack in vying for Amazon’s affection.
Amazon may decide to go for the good karma, but don’t bet on it.