In person-on-the-street interviews Thursday about Amazon's HQ2 shortlist, a few had predictions, or hopes, but the majority expressed something similar to one woman's sentiment: "It's too early to get excited about one particular city."
When Amazon released a list of the 20 North American cities on its shortlist for its second headquarters Thursday, the reactions from people on the street in Seattle were mixed.
Some made predictions about which city would ultimately be chosen by the company for its planned expansion: Austin, Atlanta, Boston and Toronto were among the favorites.
“I hope it’s Atlanta because my daughter lives in Alabama and anything down South would be good,” said Robin Kocher, a construction-site flagger in South Lake Union.
Most Amazonians, and the people who work for businesses that benefit from the company, did not want to be named when informally polled on the street.
A few had predictions, or hopes, but the majority expressed something similar to this woman’s sentiment: “It’s too early to get excited about one particular city.”
An Amazon employee, who already flies a lot for his job, said, “I assume it will be Austin because Chicago is too cold and Atlanta is too far away.”
Amazon program manager Shamiron Thomas said he’s heard that Atlanta, Boston and Austin are most likely the front-runners.
He personally thinks Atlanta will be the final choice because it’s a “good city” and a “big metro” that “meets most of the criteria” Amazon desires.
A handful of people, mostly Seattle-area natives, expressed relief that there were no other Pacific Northwest cities on the list for Amazon’s second hub.
“Thank God it’s not Tacoma or Everett. They need to get the (expletive) out of here,” said a Puget Sound native. “I say that in jest, but I’m serious at the same time.”
“I’m excited to think it could reduce the congestion in South Lake Union,” said one woman. “Getting in and out is extremely painful.”
Elena Flory, an actor and barista who was born and raised in Seattle, said she’s seen how the company has affected the local economy, for better and worse, and is hopeful that a second headquarters in another region will reduce some of the city’s stress.
“The cost of living is astronomical and it’s very difficult,” Flory said, noting that she’s seen families that have been here for generations move because they were priced out.
“I’m happy to have them here,” she said of Amazon, but is also happy HQ2 won’t “be in the P.N. Dub,” using a colloquial term for the Pacific Northwest.
Landscaper Leonard Wyman said he hopes Austin is chosen because he has family there “and this would be good for them,” but he himself holds out no hope for any reduction in the Seattle area’s growing pains.
“It’s too late,” Wyman said. “We didn’t prepare for the future.”
And then there were the people who haven’t paid much attention to Amazon’s growth.
“I didn’t even know they were doing it,” said one restaurant worker who did not want to be named. “I don’t care … “
In fact, a fair number of people said they had either been unaware of the plans for HQ2 — or just flat out didn’t care.