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Cincinnati told it lacks tech talent for Amazon HQ2 that Pittsburgh seeks

Aaron Aupperlee
| Tuesday, Feb. 27, 2018, 12:18 p.m.
Cincinnati's skyline on the banks of the Ohio River in Newport, Ky.
AP Photo/John Minchillo
Cincinnati's skyline on the banks of the Ohio River in Newport, Ky.

A lack of tech talent squashed the dreams of another Amazon HQ2 hopeful in the Rust Belt.

Amazon told economic development officials in Cincinnati that the city did not have enough computer programmers, software developers and other tech workers to make the top 20 shortlist for Amazon's second headquarters, according to the Cincinnati Enquirer .

“Talent was the most important factor out of everything they looked at,” Ed Loyd, a spokesman for REDI Cincinnati, which put together the city's bid, told the Enquirer.

Amazon has held postmortem conference calls with cities not on its shortlist. The company told Detroit it lost out on HQ2 because of a dearth of tech talent .

Tech talent appears to be important for Amazon, which will be looking to fill 50,000 new jobs wherever it puts the $5 billion HQ2. Eight of the 20 finalists rank in the top 10 American cities for tech growth, according to a report from the Brookings Institution . The Bay Area and Silicon Valley grabbed the top two spots on the Brookings list, followed by New York, Dallas, Boston and Austin. All are HQ2 finalists.

Seattle, home to Amazon's headquarters, is the seventh city on the Brookings list. Los Angeles, Chicago and Atlanta, all Amazon HQ2 finalists, round out the top 10.

Eighteen of Amazon's 20 finalists rank in the top 30 of the Brookings list.

Columbus, Ohio, an Amazon finalist, ranked 98th in the study. Toronto didn't make the list because it isn't an American city.

Pittsburgh ranked 18th. Philadelphia ranked 24th. Cincinnati ranked 27th, ahead of Raleigh at 28th and Nashville at 30th, both of which are Amazon finalists.

Pittsburgh appears to have put the city's tech talent at the center of its pitch to Amazon, with state, county and city officials mentioning it last week at an event at Amazon's tech hub on the city's South Side. Amazon announced last week it was adding 125 jobs to its Pittsburgh tech hub .

“Pittsburgh has that talent,” Dennis Davin, secretary of the state's Department of Community and Economic Development, said during the event.

The city, Allegheny County and Gov. Tom Wolf's office have refused to disclose details of Pittsburgh's bid. The city and county went to court to keep the bid secret .

Amazon officials also told Cincinnati that the region's transportation infrastructure was another shortcoming. Pittsburgh, suffering from perhaps the worst pothole season in recent memory, has some work to do there, as well.

Aaron Aupperlee is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at aaupperlee@tribweb.com, 412-336-8448 or via Twitter @tinynotebook.

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