Nashville is unexpected third-place winner in Amazon HQ2

Call it the “consolation prize” in Amazon’s months-long HQ2 sweepstakes.

Amazon (AMZN) on Tuesday finally made the official announcement that it will split its HQ2 between two locations: Arlington, Va., and Long Island City in the Queens borough of New York City. That decision was first reported in the media over a week ago.

But the official announcement also contained a surprise: Amazon will open an “Operations Center of Excellence” in downtown Nashville, Tenn., and create 5,000 jobs there.

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Amazon is investing $5 billion total in the Virginia and New York offices and will create 25,000 full-time jobs at each. Its release does not say how much it is investing in Nashville, but explains that the Nashville operations center will be “responsible for the company’s customer fulfillment, transportation, supply chain, and other similar activities.” The center will open up “just north of the Gulch,” a young and rapidly redeveloping part of Nashville that has been compared by some to Brooklyn. Nashville overall has been growing rapidly in the last few years with an influx of millennials; its biggest industry is health care.

Nashville was among 20 finalist cities Amazon announced for HQ2 back in January. The others included Austin, Texas; Boston; Columbus, Ohio; Newark, N.J.; Pittsburgh; Raleigh, N.C.; and Toronto.

There was a lot of initial excitement over the possibility that Amazon would go to a city that needed the infusion of jobs for revitalization, like Newark or Pittsburgh, and now there is criticism that in the end the company simply went to D.C. and New York, where local housing prices are likely to rise and public transportation will get more crowded as a result of Amazon coming to town.

The 5,000 jobs coming to Nashville are, in a sense, like a bone thrown to one of the underdog finalists.

Daniel Roberts is a senior writer at Yahoo Finance and closely covers Amazon. Follow him on Twitter at @readDanwrite

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