A Surprise on the Short List for Amazon HQ2: Three Areas Around Washington, D.C.

Three of the 20 finalists on Amazon.com Inc.'s short list for its second headquarters are in the area around the nation's capital -- Washington, D.C.; Montgomery County, Md.; and Northern Virginia.

Their candidacy sets up an unusual competition among neighbors that are as close as a 5-mile drive apart. Part of the same sprawling metro economy, the three share transportation networks, three major airports, universities that supply plenty of tech talent, and other attributes that Amazon desires. The proximity to federal government decision makers also makes the area attractive, analysts said.

"Making this list reaffirms what we already knew going into the bid process -- Washington, D.C., is no longer a one-company government town, we are a leader in innovation and tech, brimming with top talent and endless opportunity," said Washington Mayor Muriel Bowser.

There are some notable differences between the three finalists. Taxes in Virginia are lower than in Washington or Montgomery County. Though Northern Virginia voters reliably support Democratic candidates, both Maryland and Washington are bluer politically than Virginia as a whole.

While the Metro system extends into Maryland and Virginia, Washington has the most extensive public-transit access.

Parts of Montgomery County and Northern Virginia are urban, transit-oriented places that have drawn many young, highly educated adults. Outlying areas retain a more suburban feel with limited or no subway connections.

Given the overall similarities, incentives offered by the Washington, Maryland and Virginia governments could be key if the company zeroes in on the metro region of roughly six million people.

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos has connections to the nation's capital. He owns The Washington Post and has a home in the city.

"The fact that all three are there probably tells you the area was on their radar screen from the get-go," said Mark White, deputy director of the Center for Regional Analysis at George Mason University. "All the fundamentals they're looking for are there."

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

January 18, 2018 13:04 ET (18:04 GMT)