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HQ2 Is Only Part of the Story of Big-Tech Expansion

Amazon HQ2 may be split between superstar cities, but San Francisco’s big tech firms are starting to expand into smaller, non-coastal places.
Cyclists pass beneath the downtown skyline on the hike-and-bike trail on Lady Bird Lake in Austin.
Cyclists pass beneath the downtown skyline on the hike-and-bike trail on Lady Bird Lake in Austin.Julia Robinson/Reuters

When word got out that Amazon is going to split its HQ2 between New York City and greater Washington, D.C., as the company made official today, many saw it as evidence of the widening gap between America’s coastal superstar cities and the heartland. Amazon is expanding from Seattle, a successful tech hub on the West Coast, to the world’s leading global city (New York) and the capital of the most powerful nation on Earth (Washington), both of which sit on the East Coast Acela corridor, equivalent to one of the world’s largest economies. With Google planning yet another expansion in New York, here is another example of winner-take-all urbanism.

While that is certainly true, there are signs that some big tech firms are expanding away from the San Francisco Bay Area, long the dominant player in tech, to smaller and non-coastal places.