Opinion - CNBC | SurveyMonkey Small Business Survey

The city that wants Amazon's new headquarters the most: Detroit

Jon Cohen, chief research officer, and Laura Wronski, research scientist at SurveyMonkey
Amazon hosts jobs day across US in August 2017 to hire 50,000 for its fulfillment centers.
Mark Makela | Getty Images

More than a quarter of residents in or near Detroit say they would want to work at Amazon if the company were to select their area for the site of its much anticipated second headquarters, and more than three quarters say that HQ2, as it is known, would be a good thing for their area.

These results make Detroit by far the most enthusiastic of Amazon's HQ2 prospects among all large metropolitan areas in the United States.

These statistics come from the latest CNBC/SurveyMonkey Small Business Survey, conducted Nov. 20–Dec. 4. Though the quarterly survey focuses on small business owners, this iteration also asked 10,392 people across the U.S. who don't own small businesses about their thoughts on Amazon.

Most people across the country are supportive of their region winning Amazon's HQ2. More than half (55 percent) say this would "definitely" be a good thing for their area, while 38 percent say "possibly" and just 5 percent say "definitely not."

But certain areas are more enthusiastic than others. We grouped respondents into "combined statistical areas," which are geographic units defined by the U.S. Office of Management and Budget that combine metropolitan areas with surrounding areas that have commuting and economic ties to the more populous region. This type of analysis allows us to account for the fact that the arrival of Amazon HQ2 would impact not just the immediate city but the surrounding region as well, and it gives us a large enough sample size to do a nationwide analysis.


If Jeff Bezos wants to ensure he will have enough of a workforce to start Amazon's second headquarters, Detroit and Atlanta are the obvious places to start. In the Detroit area, 28 percent of people said they would "definitely" want to work for Amazon if the company brought its second headquarters to town.

In the Atlanta region, 26 percent of people said they would definitely want to work for Amazon, as did 24 percent of those in the Houston region, 23 percent of those in the Miami region and 23 percent of those in greater Los Angeles.

Region Percent of population that wants to work for Amazon
Los Angeles22%
New York City17%
San Francisco/Bay Area10%

Amazon has projected the creation of 50,000 new jobs in whatever city or region it ultimately chooses. The most recent jobs report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics puts unemployment in Detroit and Atlanta at 4.2 percent and 4.1 percent, respectively, as of October — roughly in the middle of the pack.

Good thing for your area

Amazon's considerations go well beyond hiring. The internet giant has reshaped the city of Seattle in its own image, attracting tech employees from around the world, driving up housing prices and compelling the city to invest more heavily in transit options and infrastructure.

The same would likely occur in whichever city hosts its second headquarters, which would be a boon for many cities. Aside from their own desire to work for Amazon, residents of the Detroit area were again the most enthusiastic about HQ2 coming to town in terms of their expectations for its impact on the region. More than 3 in 4 people living in Detroit and the surrounding region said that Amazon would be a "good thing" for their area — the highest of any region with at least 150 respondents reporting in our survey.

Region The cities that want Amazon’s HQ2 the most
New York City47%
Los Angeles41%
San Francisco/Bay Area33%

Overall, more people want Amazon to come to their area than actually want to work for Amazon. Though Detroit is by far the most enthusiastic, large proportions of a number of cities say that Amazon would be a good thing for their respective areas, including Boston (61 percent), Dallas (60 percent), Minneapolis (58 percent) and Atlanta (58 percent).

Nationally, 55 percent of people would want Amazon to locate its second headquarters near them, though just 18 percent say they would want to work at HQ2.

Less enthusiasm in ...

If Amazon takes public opinion into account in making its decision, Denver and the San Francisco/San Jose area could quickly be eliminated. Just 11 percent of Denver area residents and 10 percent of Bay Area residents said they would definitely want to work for Amazon, by far the lowest of all areas surveyed.

Similarly, 17 percent of Denver area residents and 14 percent of those in the Bay Area said that HQ2 would "definitely not" be a good thing for their area, by far the highest of any region surveyed. Nationally, just 5 percent of people said the same.

In the months since the competition was announced, various outlets have used Amazon's own requirements to model which cities best meet the qualifications for the company's second headquarters. Analyses conducted by CNBC show that big cities like New York meet many of the requirements laid out by Amazon in its request for proposals, but southern metro areas — including Charlotte/Raleigh-Durham/Greensboro-High Point, North Carolina — could make a compelling case. The New York Times Upshot blog predicted that Denver would win out. But Denver residents themselves don't want Amazon, and many other areas — especially Detroit — do.

By Jon Cohen, chief research officer, and Laura Wronski, research scientist at SurveyMonkey

The CNBC/SurveyMonkey Small Business Survey is conducted quarterly using SurveyMonkey's online platform and based on its survey methodology.

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