Amazon HQ2: 20 finalists competing to host new headquarters

Last Updated Jan 18, 2018 6:46 PM EST

ATLANTA -- Cities all over America are competing to host a new Amazon headquarters and the jobs that go with it. On Thursday, Amazon whittled down the choices from 238 to 20

Finding a home for Amazon's second headquarters -- the company calls it HQ2 -- became corporate catnip to a frenzy of suitors coast to coast. American communities courted the company with gifts of land and tax incentives worth billions. Stonecrest, Georgia, proposed 345 free acres and even offered to change its name. 

Deliberations were secret, but Amazon had a type in mind -- a metropolitan area of more than 1 million people that's a hub for top tech talent. 

Atlanta touted its airport, highways and business climate. The city made Amazon's final cut. 

"The number of jobs and just how positively it could change the landscape of the city. It is a big deal," said Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms.

These 20 names on Amazon's new dance card fell heavily in the Midwest, Southeast and Northeast. Here's why: Amazon, the world's largest internet retailer, proposes spending $5 billion to build HQ2, and create up to 50,000 jobs that average $100,000. 

"I would hope that cities don't enter into a bidding war," said Amy Liu, an urban policy expert at the Brookings Institute.

Liu warns suitors that overspending is only one potential pitfall. Seattle, home of Amazon's world headquarters, has seen a surge in housing costs and traffic congestion. 

"It will stress the housing market, it will stress the wages in the community, including really leaving some parts of the community behind," Liu said. 

But for the 20 finalists, the corporate courtship will only intensify in the weeks ahead. Here in Georgia, Gov. Nathan Deal may call a special session of the legislature if necessary to come up with needed sweeteners to reel in Amazon. 

  • Mark Strassmann

    Mark Strassmann has been a CBS News correspondent since January 2001 and is based in the Atlanta bureau.