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Cities that didn’t win HQ2 shouldn’t be counted out

Brooks Rainwater Contributor Extra posts by this contributor As duties wane, abilities rise Blockchain know-how might be the nice equalizer for ...


The greater than year-long dance between cities and Amazon for its second headquarters is lastly over, with New York Metropolis and Washington, DC, capturing the large prize. With one of many largest financial growth windfalls in a era on the road, 238 cities used each tactic within the ebook to courtroom the corporate – together with providing to rename a metropolis “Amazon” and appointing Jeff Bezos “mayor for all times.”

Now that the method, and hysteria, are over, and cities have stopped asking “how can we get Amazon,” we’d prefer to ask a special query: How can cities construct stronger start-up ecosystems for the Amazon but to be constructed?

In September 2017, Amazon introduced that it could search a second headquarters. However fairly than being the everyday website choice course of, this might develop into a extremely publicized Starvation Video games-esque state of affairs.

An RFP was proffered on what the corporate sought, and it included the whole lot any good urbanist would need, with walkability, transportation and cultural traits on the docket. However after all, incentives had been additionally excessive on the listing.

Amazon may have been a transformational catalyst for a plethora of cities all through the US, however as a substitute, it selected two famous person cities: the primary and 5 metro areas by GDP which, mixed, quantities to a virtually $ 2 trillion GDP. These two metro areas even have among the highest actual property costs within the nation, a swath of excessive paying jobs and naturally energy — monetary and political — shut at hand.

Maybe the take-away for cities isn’t that we should always all be so centered on hooking that huge fish from afar, however as a substitute that we ought to be rising it in our personal waters. Amazon itself is a superb instance of this. It’s price remembering that over the course of 1 / 4 century, Amazon went from a storage in Seattle’s suburbs to consuming 16 p.c — or 81 million sq. toes — of the town’s downtown. On the opposite finish of the spectrum, the most important world know-how firm in 1994 (the yr of Amazon’s start) was Netscape, which now not exists.

The upshot is that cities that rely solely on attracting large know-how firms are normally too late.

On the Nationwide League of Cities, we predict there are methods to broaden the pie that don’t reinforce current spatial inequalities. That is precisely the thought behind the launch of our metropolis innovation ecosystems commitments course of. With help from the Schmidt Futures Basis, fifty cities, starting from rural townships, school cities, and main metros, have joined with over 200 native companions and leveraged over $ 100 million in regional and nationwide sources to help younger companies, leverage know-how and broaden STEM schooling and workforce coaching for all.

The investments these cities are making as we speak could actually be the precursor to among the largest tech firms of the longer term.

With that concept in thoughts, listed here are eight cities that didn’t win HQ2 bids however are guaranteeing their cities will likely be ready to create the subsequent tranche of high-growth startups. 


Austin simply constructed a medical faculty adjoining to a tier one analysis college, the College of Texas. It’s the primary such venture to be accomplished in America in over fifty years. To make sure the addition interprets into financial alternative for the town, Austin’s public, non-public and civic leaders have come collectively to create Capital Metropolis Innovation to launch the town’s first Innovation District on the new medical faculty. This may assist broaden the town’s already world class startup ecosystem into the well being and wellness markets.


Baltimore is house to over $ 2 billion in tutorial analysis, rating it third within the nation behind Boston and Philadelphia. With the intention to guarantee everybody participates within the increasing research-based startup ecosystem, the town is remodeling neighborhood recreation facilities into maker and know-how coaching facilities to attach deprived youth and households to new abilities and careers in know-how. The Rec-to-Tech Initiative will start with neighborhood design periods at 4 recreation facilities, in partnership with the Digital Harbor Basis, to create a feasibility research and implementation plan to overview for additional enlargement.


The 120-acre Buffalo Niagara Medical Heart (BNMC) is house to eight tutorial establishments and hospitals and over 150 non-public know-how and well being firms. To make sure Buffalo’s startups replicate the variety of its inhabitants, the Innovation Heart at BNMC has simply introduced a brand new program to offer free house and mentorship to 10 excessive potential minority- and/or women-owned start-ups.


Like Seattle, actual property growth in Denver is rising at a feverish fee. And whereas the expansion is bringing new alternative, the town is increasing sooner than the workforce can maintain tempo. To make sure a sustainable progress trajectory, Denver has recruited the Subsequent Era Metropolis Builders to coach college students and retrain current staff to fill high-demand jobs in structure, design, building and transportation. 


With a inhabitants of 180,000, Windfall is house to eight larger schooling establishments – together with Brown College and the Rhode Island Faculty of Design – making it a hub for each technical and inventive expertise. Town of Windfall, in collaboration with its larger schooling establishments and two hospital programs, has created a brand new public-private-university partnership, the City Innovation Partnership, to collectively contribute and help the town’s rising innovation economic system. 


Pittsburgh could have as soon as been often known as a metal city, however as we speak it’s a world mecca for robotics analysis, with over four.5 occasions the nationwide common robotics R&D inside its borders. Like Baltimore, Pittsburgh is making a extra inclusive innovation economic system by way of a Rec-to-Tech program that can re-invest within the metropolis’s 10 leisure facilities, connecting college students and fogeys to the talents wanted to take part within the economic system of the longer term. 


Tampa is already house to 30,000 technical and scientific marketing consultant and pc design jobs — and that quantity is rising. To satisfy future demand and make sure the area has an inclusive progress technique, the town of Tampa, with 13 college, civic and personal sector companions, has introduced “Future Innovators of Tampa Bay.” The brand new six-year initiative seeks to offer the chance for each one of many Tampa Bay Area’s 600,000 Okay-12 college students to be educated in digital creativity, invention and entrepreneurship.

These eight cities assist display the innovation we’re seeing on the bottom now, all all through the nation. The seeds of success have been planted with folks, partnerships and public management on the fore. Maybe they didn’t land HQ2 this time, however after we quick ahead to 2038 — and the seek for Argo AI, SparkCognition or Welltok’s new headquarters is effectively underway — the groundwork can have been laid for cities with sturdy ecosystems already in place to compete on a good enjoying discipline.