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Sunday, October 29, 2017


Amazon wants to be near a downtown university

Scott Andes
    No shortage of ink has been spilled over what exactly Amazon is looking for in HQ2. Urban planners think the company wants an amenity-rich downtown location; for environmentalists it’s an eco-nirvana campus; and traditional economic developers believe Amazon wants what every company demands: tax incentives and talent.
    One element of Amazon’s RFP has received less attention—its desire to be near an urban university. Of course, the most obvious reason to locate near a university is to attract a steady flow of talent. But Amazon is seeking a headquarters location, not simply a technology or engineering center—and that means it will need lawyers, accountants, and marketing and design reps in addition to coders and engineers. Not only will the region need a sizeable existing labor pool, it will also a steady flow of new blood.
    However, talent is not the only reason why a downtown university should be desirable to the “everything” company. In a recent Brookings paper, I explain how research universities located in the midtowns and downtowns of cities punch above their weight in terms of translating academic research into market-ready ideas.

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