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CNBC thinks MN's chances of Amazon HQ are slim

The TV station has presented some rather flawed data to back it up.
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Minnesota's bid for Amazon's second headquarters was submitted on Wednesday, but CNBC thinks the state needn't have bothered.

You can read more about the state's very Minnesotan submission here, but the TV network has compiled a ranking of the most suitable locations based on what Amazon is looking for, and the Twin Cities are way down the list in 25th.

Here's its ranking:

Minneapolis/St. Paul scores pretty well when it comes to job growth and for access to an educated workforce, but less well in universities, mass transit and airports.

Overall Minneapolis places about halfway down the list in 25th, just ahead of Baltimore and behind San Jose.

The list is topped by New York, Atlanta, Chicago, L.A., San Francisco and Washington, which with the exception of Atlanta get first dibs on everything and this is our reaction to their high scores.

But is the ranking fair?

So Minnesota scored highly for having a well-educated workforce, but despite this the Twin Cities metro doesn't even rank in the top 20 when it comes to "universities."

That's despite being home to the U of M, Macalester, Augsburg, Metropolitan State, St. Thomas, St. Catherine, Concordia etc., not to mention the slightly further afield Carleton College, St. Cloud State , St. John's and St. Benedict's to name but a few.

The reason the Twin Cities didn't rank in the top 20 for universities is because that category was judged not on the quality and availability of higher education, but the number of post-secondary institutions there are in the city.

And that highlights a problem with CNBC's criteria, which look at quantity, not capacity or quality.

It's the same for mass transit, the rankings for which were determined by public transportation ridership.

Sure, the Twin Cities' fledgling light rail and bus system can't compete with equivalent systems in Chicago or New York in terms of passenger numbers, but it seems a hell of a lot more capable of handling an extra 50,000 Amazon workers than those bursting-at-the-seams cities.

Basing the rankings on passenger numbers is also ludicrous when you consider the car-loving, train-less Los Angeles ranks higher for its mass transit system than all but four other cities.

Once again, the "airport" category is based on airport passenger traffic, with Atlanta 1st, Chicago 2nd, Dallas 3rd and Los Angeles 4th.

But again, America's busiest airports can be a nightmare to get around (we're looking at you, O'Hare), where Minneapolis-St. Paul is a big enough flight hub without feeling crowded.

Do we really want it?

Ok so we got a little defensive above, picking apart CNBC for its flawed analysis, because in reality winning the Amazon HQ contract has its pluses and minuses.

MinnPost lays out that concerns have been raised about rolling out the red carpet for Amazon where more could be done to help the state's smaller businesses.

It's also fair to say that while having an educated extra 50,000 workers in the cities would be a boon for the local economy, it'd also likely drive up housing prices even further and make increasingly steep rents even steeper.

Critics of Amazon's first HQ in Seattle say they saw house prices skyrocket and streets clogged with traffic as the company grew, the Associated Press reports.

Governor Mark Dayton has also been cautious about making promises to Amazon because of the potential impact it could have on Minnesota Fortune 500 retailers Target and Best Buy – who employ more than 34,000 workers between them in the state and are direct competitors to Amazon.

There will be positives, naturally, not least the aforementioned indirect effect on the wider economy, particularly businesses involved in the Twin Cities' service industry.

And it could also have a "transformative effect" on the local tech scene, something GoMN took a closer look at last month.

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