Amazon officially decided to split its second headquarters location between Queens, New York and Crystal City, Virginia, but other U.S. cities could have made a better choice.

That's according to New York Times columnist James Stewart, who argues that the two East Coast cities are already brimming with affluent and well-educated Millennials. Amazon could have truly transformed a city in Middle America--instead, Queens and Crystal City will attract even more talented professionals to their metro areas, and reinforce the idea that the U.S. is divided between coastal cities and everywhere else.

Placing at least one of the two HQ2 locations somewhere in America's heartland would have signaled that cities without "ocean views and $3,000-a-square-foot condos" are still great places to live, according to Stewart. The decision could also weaken Middle America's abilities to produce the next Apple, Google, or Amazon.

"It's not Amazon's obligation to help heal the growing divide between red and blue America," Stewart writes, but Amazon may be uniquely positioned to do it. A recent Georgetown University survey found that even though Republicans and Democrats disagree on almost everything, members of both parties ranked Amazon as one of their top three most-trusted institutions.

Amazon founder Jeff Bezos may have also missed an opportunity to generate  "considerable political good will" by picking a city in the Midwest, given that his company's success "has hollowed out aging downtowns and shopping malls across America," Stewart writes. This point may not be lost on Bezos, as Amazon did announce that it will build an "Operations Center of Excellence" in Nashville which will create 5,000 jobs. 

Published on: Nov 16, 2018