We’re sure you were a little disappointed, but you also were part of a group of 20 finalist cities, which was quite an accomplishment. Now you join the 200-plus other cities who were certain they were No. 21. Welcome to the HQ2 Losers Club.
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We’ve been in the club since January, so we know a little about what’s next. First, your city will join all the other cities who got the thumbs down then churned out chin-up quotes about “being proud of our bid” and “the collaboration and vision we displayed.” You’ll wonder, of course, where it was that you fell short, and you’ll hear from plenty of people who know exactly what did you in. (Coincidentally, it will happen to be their longtime peeve with your city.)
You also might breathe a sigh of relief. Some did here.
But as tempting as it might be to say “we didn’t want Amazon, anyway” — and people will point to traffic and infrastructure nightmares — it’s not really true. An HQ2 would’ve brought tens of thousands of high-paying jobs, which would have cascaded into more jobs. It would have been transforming not only for Raleigh, but for North Carolina.
That said, the idea of the prize is usually more glorious than the reality of the prize. HQ2 will come with burdens for the winners, beginning with the political infighting and national scorn already surrounding how much the victors were willing to give Amazon. Like $1.8 billion in incentives in New York. And a helipad! (And yes, they’re already worried about traffic.)
Of course, what might be even worse is being an Amazon loser who was just as willing to give away the house. We’re about to learn the details of Charlotte’s bid, and it’s sure to set off a new round of recriminations about how obliging we were ready to be and how even that wasn’t enough to make the cut.
Not that introspection is bad. Whether it’s a first cut or final cut, the Amazon snub is an opportunity for cities to be introspective. The thing is, that probably won’t happen for you. It didn’t here. We asked some initial questions about ourselves, but then everyone just kind of moved on. Even this week, 10 months after we got the bad HQ2 news, Charlotte mayor Vi Lyles told WFAE she hadn’t had a chance to look at Charlotte’s losing bid.
Why? Part of it is that HQ2 was a unicorn of sorts — a company unlike any other hosting a bidding process that was half solicitation, half PR gimmick. There’s just not a lot to apply to future business recruiting.
Part of it, too, is that cities like Raleigh and Charlotte already have big, built-in problems — like equity and housing and transportation — that we’re trying to tackle.
In the end, not getting Amazon didn’t really change anything. We already know we can be better. We’re already trying.
So, sorry about the bad news. But: You did good. As much as we hate to say it, you did better than us. Congratulations. This time.