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Where will the new Amazon HQ be? Is your city on the shortlist?

Stewart Berry

Author: Stewart Berry

Using Site Mapping Tools to Explore the Amazon HQ2 Location


Amazon is performing a competitive site selection process and is considering metro regions in North America for its second corporate headquarters.

  • Amazon HQ2 will generate $5 billion in construction and create 50,000 jobs
  • Amazon wants one competitive response per metropolitan statistical area (MSA)
  • A similar layout to Amazon’s Seattle campus is preferred

The Maptitude mapping software is an excellent tool for data analysis and visualization. We will use several different Maptitude tools to explore how they work together to provide tangible results. As an exercise we will:

  • Explore the characteristics of a study area in the USA
  • Work through a real-world set of requirements

Amazon HQ2 Building/Site Requirements

Population Center

First, we will filter the metro areas that meet the population and educational requirements, by having at least:

  • a population of 1 million
  • 32% of adults with at least a bachelors degree
  • 3% of the workforce in the Information sector (NAICS 51)
  • 14% of the workforce in the Professional, Scientific, Technical and Business Management sectors (NAICS 54-56)

The existing Seattle HQ MSA meets these criteria, so it seems that we are on the correct path!

City Shortlist

These cities meet the above criteria.

  • Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Roswell, GA
  • Austin-Round Rock, TX
  • Boston-Cambridge-Newton, MA-NH
  • Denver-Aurora-Lakewood, CO
  • Raleigh, NC
  • San Diego-Carlsbad, CA
  • San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward, CA
  • San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, CA
  • Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue, WA
  • Washington-Arlington-Alexandria, DC-VA-MD-WV

Each of the MSAs contains a major airport as required by the RFP.

MSA: Boston

We will now focus on the Boston MSA to see how it meets the Amazon criteria.

We created a 30-mile ring and a 45-minute drive-time ring that encompass:

  • Extensive higher education
  • Diverse population
  • Major airport

We then extract the demographics for those rings to list the higher education institutions, explore the racial/ethnic/gender diversity of the region, and to list the airports in the region.


The above analysis is possible with Maptitude mapping software out-of-the-box. We are now going to geocode our address list of potential site locations and analyze their suitability:

  • Geocode brownfields
  • Filter by size and location
  • Identify proximity to highways & mass transit


We obtained and geocoded in Maptitude a list of brownfield sites

  • Source: Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection
  • These properties are typically abandoned or for sale or lease and have been used for commercial or industrial purposes and may be contaminated

In this exercise, we will not be looking at greenfield sites

  • Greenfield properties are previously undeveloped sites for commercial development or exploitation.

Proposed Site

The former Canton Airport site has the most commuter rail stations in the closest proximity. This site is also adjacent to a major interstate intersection and many amenities.


Mapping software has progressed to the point that wizard-driven tools, embedded data, and intuitive interfaces mean that even novice users can tackle and explore complex tasks. We call this "Mapping without Tears"™. We were able to quickly explore the criteria laid out by Amazon with the US$695 Maptitude software.

The former Canton airport site may have been converted into a park, but is listed as a brownfield site by the MA DEP. Maybe losing a park for an Amazon HQ would be an acceptable trade-off for residents!


Next Steps

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