Ever since Amazon announced the competition for HQ2, it seems like every other day an analytics firm releases a hot take as to which city the e-commerce giant will pick.
Interestingly enough, Philly is usually a solid performer. And one of latest rankings – Moody’s Analytics, which actually has sway in the biz world – thinks Philly is a top contender.
Moody’s placed Philly third in its “data driven approach to selecting the best metro area for HQ2.” The city ranked behind Austin, Texas, which took the first spot, and Atlanta.
But here’s the catch: the financial services company called Philly a “geographic wild card.” That’s because the report mainly took five categories into account – business environment, human capital, cost, quality of life and transportation. But if Moody’s throws a sixth category into the mix – geography – Philly leaps to first, and Pittsburgh jumps to second.
The company took several factors into account in its geography category, including distance from Amazon’s existing Seattle headquarters, regional advantages, transportation and proximity “to Jeff Bezos’ closest non-Seattle homes.”
“Taken together, geography helps bring Pennsylvania’s two metro areas to the top of the list,” the report reads.
Overall, the Moody’s favored Philly not because the city performed exceptionally in any one category, but because the “underdog” city ranked steadily among all five. The downsides to city, according to Moody’s, are its inefficient tax structure and “significant” public sector pension issues. And Pennsylvania’s structural budget deficit could also prove to be an issue.
“As a result, whether the city and state are able and willing to offer generous enough incentives remains to be seen,” the report reads.
In the end, however, the company thinks Philly’s pros outweigh its cons: “Amazon would be coming to the city at exactly the right moment,” the report reads. “A boom is under way but is not so far along that the city is now expensive.”
The city’s prime location for HQ2, per Moody’s? The Schuylkill Yards, “a massive development already moving through the planning pipeline.”
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