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Double the HQ2? What It Means if Amazon Splits Up Its Second Headquarters

It won't get double the tax incentives (probably). But there are other tactical reasons for the move.
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Thilo Schmuelgen/Reuters

Amazon has spent over a year trying to adopt the perfect second headquarters to complement its Seattle home base. Now, the desired HQ twins could look more like triplets: On Monday, the Wall Street Journal reported that, according to unidentified sources, Amazon plans to split HQ2 evenly across two of its 20 shortlisted locations, instead of choosing just one to host it. The winners of the shared trophy will likely be Long Island City, in Queens, NY; and Crystal City in Northern Virginia, two people briefed on the matter told the New York Times. The official announcement will come as early as later this week.

For the two chosen regions, this means the boon—and cost—of becoming an HQ2 could look different than initially projected. The 50,000 jobs Amazon promised to create will turn into 25,000, and the estimated $5 billion in investment might shrink to a neat $2.5 billion each. The strain on transportation and housing might sting less, and the population might stabilize sooner. Amazon will have more tech talent to choose from, and will likely firm up its influence on more than one coast. But, in the midst of a competitive bidding war—one in which regions have promised Amazon billions in tax incentives for the chance to lure it—will it also mean the company makes off with double the public money?