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Moody's grades Philly, Pittsburgh among top contenders for Amazon HQ2

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Noted economist Mark Zandi pored over the data and came up with a list of 10 cities he believes have the best chance of being picked to host Amazon's second headquarters, aka HQ2.

Austin, Texas, tops the list, followed by the Atlanta metropolitan area. 

No. 3 is Philadelphia, with Pittsburgh coming in at No. 5. No other Pennsylvania cities made the list.

But depending on the variables used, Philadelphia and Pittsburgh could be the top two, according to Zandi's research.

Zandi, chief economist at Moody's Analytics, developed the list by matching economic factors against Amazon's stated preferences. He measured cities in five categories: business environment, human capital, cost, quality of life and transportation.

He also examined a sixth, more subjective variable: geography, which he describes in an online article as an amalgam of factors: farthest distance from Amazon's current headquarters in Seattle (so as to diversify its labor pool); proximity to the Northeast Corridor and Washington, D.C.; number of Amazon fulfillment centers; and proximity to Jeff Bezos' closest non-Seattle homes. Bezos is Amazon's founder and CEO.

Philadelphia and Pittsburgh had the highest scores in the geography category, with the city of brotherly love on top. 

"Taken together, geography helps bring Pennsylvania’s two metro areas to the top of the list," wrote Zandi, who went to college at the University of Pennsylvania and lives in the Philadelphia suburbs.

Pennsylvania's two biggest cities were at the bottom, however, in the quality of life category, which accounts for factors like education, crime, diversity, and arts and recreation.

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