A new ranking of cities seeking Amazon’s second headquarters based on industry predictions from several sources put North Carolina sites Raleigh and Charlotte in the top 25.
Raleigh was ranked 10th between New York City and Pittsburgh. Charlotte cracked the list at 24, just in front of Phoenix.
Best Places, which is set to publish its ranking Wednesday, analyzes data and ranks all sorts of places. Atlanta was ranked No. 1.
"Trust us, it's going to be Atlanta," the ranking concluded, based on a study of the rankings and lists of 18 other sources, including Moody's, CNBC, CNN, Slate and the New York Times. The next two contenders on the list: Boston and Chicago.
"Our thing is about location and place and how it matters, and it seems to matter more and more these days," Sperling said. "This is our meta-analysis, taking stock of everything that's out there. This is what folks are saying."
The Best Places ranking for Detroit — No. 22 out of 64 — gave it a better chance than dozens of metro areas, including Houston, Charlotte, Phoenix, Las Vegas, Orlando, Indianapolis, Columbus and Newark.
Detroit on this list even beats Seattle, Amazon's headquarters.
Amazon's request for bids identified key factors it would weigh, such as a population of more than 1 million, a nearby major airport, stable business climate, robust mass transit, an educated labor force, low cost of living and high quality of life.
"What they are proposing is so outside the scale of any sort of corporate relocation or anything that has been done before, they can't fit into an existing city," Sperling said. "It's going to take over the city just like they did in Seattle and folks in Seattle are kind of unhappy about the way Amazon has changed it. That's why Amazon is looking for something else."
Amazon got 238 bids from 43 states. A winner is expected to be named in 2018.
One state that didn't bid was Arkansas, home of Amazon competitor Walmart.
In the past year, Detroit has been ranked both high and low on a variety of lists. It was No. 2 in Lonely Planet's best cities in the world to visit in 2018, but was last on the FBI's list of big cities in America with violent crime.
"People would like to see Detroit get a nod like that. It would completely remake the entire area," Sperling said. "But, there are other choices that other people feel might be stronger for Amazon."
Grand Rapids, the other Michigan city on the list, came in at No. 60.
Newark, which a Yahoo Finance editor touted as "perfect" for the HQ2, offered $7 billion in incentives to lure the retail juggernaut to New Jersey. But it ended up on the Best Places list as No. 63, ahead of last place Vancouver.
Still, Sterling, hedging his own list's prediction, said any city could still be Amazon's pick.
Folks like Sandy Baruah, CEO of the Detroit Regional Chamber, have said that no matter what the various lists and rankings say about Detroit and its chances to win — or not win — the city is all in.
"Make no mistake, we're in this to win it," he said. "No one in this group is vying for second place."
Or, for that matter, 22nd place.
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Contact Frank Witsil: 248-351-3690 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Best Places ranking of cities
6. Austin, Texas
9. New York
10. Raleigh, N.C.
13. San Jose, Calif.
14. Salt Lake City
15. San Francisco
17. Portland, Ore.
18. Nashville, Tenn.
20 Los Angeles
24. Charlotte, N.C.