Latest speculation puts Atlanta at top of Amazon list

Of the cities still competing for Amazon’s second headquarters, Atlanta and Raleigh are the most appealing to more than 2,000 GeekWire readers surveyed, according to Forbes magazine.

Amazon took proposals from scores of American metros and has indicated that it has narrowed the choices to a top 10, but beyond that the Seattle-based giant ain’t sayin’.

That hasn’t kept speculators from speculating.

GeekWire readers said the top choice of where they would want to live is Raleigh, followed closely by Atlanta.

“If you look closely at recent surveys, many have their money on Atlanta or Raleigh, North Carolina,” wrote Forbes.

William Pate, chief executive of the Atlanta Convention and Visitors Bureau, said no one should be surprised to hear speculation about Atlanta winning Amazon.

The region has an allure to both travelers and businesses, he said. “Our world-class attractions, rich history and thriving dining scene create a destination full of experiences that appeal to everyone’s interests.”

The high-stakes decision is, of course, a mixed bag for the winner. The company would make an estimated $5 billion investment in a corporate campus and hire or bring about 50,000 workers. But the influx would bring a myriad of challenges in housing and transportation.

Experts warn that the winner will likely see its region grow wealthier, even as its local housing and labor markets are disrupted and the gap between rich and poor surges. For example, a report by Apartment List showed rents escalating along with the in-flow of techies.

With the need for tech talent, Raleigh, as part of the Research Triangle, is attractive. With the need for housing, Atlanta has the edge, according to experts cited by Forbes.

Atlanta has four times as many homes for sale as Raleigh, Sean Black, chief executive of told the magazine. It also is building new homes faster than in Raleigh.

Moreover, Atlanta has a large pool of affordable houses, he told Forbes.

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