Last Thursday, Amazon announced the top 20 finalist cities to host its new headquarters, known as HQ2. The list was a mix of both large city hubs and midsize cities that are rising amongst the rest. For some, the inclusion of Indianapolis was a surprise. Indy quickly became one of the “interesting dark horse contenders from so-called fly-over country,” according to Forbes, a long-shot to land the $5 billion investment and up to 50,000 employees that will follow HQ2.

For those who have been following the Indy tech ecosystem, however, this announcement wasn’t a surprise at all. For a strong and rapidly-growing technology scene like Indy’s, it was a reflection of the talent and potential in our tech ecosystem today, not just tomorrow. With Amazon’s selection of Indy as a finalist comes both the validation that Indy tech is competitive nationally and internationally, as well as the drive to push Indy across the finish line and become the home for Amazon HQ2.

The Bid

In September 2017, Amazon announced it was seeking proposals for HQ2. The response was tremendous: 238 cities and regions in the U.S., Mexico, and Canada submitted their bids to bring Amazon to their communities. Indy’s bid was a joint proposal between Indianapolis and Fishers, showcasing the region as a whole and the benefits that come from working together. Many different community organizations and agencies partnered on this endeavor, with 300 people ending up working on the bid as Fox Business reported.

This bid highlighted many of the strengths that Indy possesses to attract a giant like Amazon: affordable land for a massive headquarters, world-class universities nearby to help provide the talent to fill the jobs, and being named one of six best cities to start a business in according to Inc Magazine.

Indy was well-positioned for Amazon when the bid was submitted. It was an opportunity the city couldn’t pass up. As TechPoint CEO Mike Langellier said on Inside INdiana Business back in September, “This is a once in a generation opportunity … akin to a Super Bowl bid and bigger in a lot of respects.”

The Announcement

When the list of 20 finalists was revealed on January 18, several of the cities listed were “surprises” to many around the U.S. Immediately, Indianapolis fell into this category. The city became a dark horse candidate for many writers at Forbes: there was a chance, and a stronger one than other cities, but Indy was still far away from those leading the pack, in their opinions.

Though, the more that people dug into Indy and what’s been happening with the tech scene, the more they learned about the ecosystem we’ve nurtured over the years. The Phoenix Business Journal discovered as much, noting at first that “Indianapolis might, on its face, be the most surprising and unlikely contender for Amazon’s HQ2” before uncovering how Indy “actually has had some of the strongest technology job growth in the U.S. in recent years,” along with our universities and friendly business environment.

While the rest of the country may now be discovering what makes Indy tech so great, those who live and work in the city have been thrilled at the news of the announcement and the validation that comes with it. The Indianapolis Star reaffirmed the reasons why Indy is the perfect pick for Amazon and addressed some of the concerns others have raised in the past. Not only that, the paper demonstrated the spirit of success and winning engrained in the culture of our city as to why Amazon could be joining the Indy skyline.

Fox59 detailed the response from Indianapolis Mayor Joe Hogsett to the announcement and the impact tech has had in Indy: “Every day we are gaining more recognition as a growing tech hub, and I am proud that Central Indiana’s unique combination of connectivity, quality of life, and affordable living has once again put us on the global stage.”

And with Inside INdiana Business, Langellier commented on the “powerful statement” Amazon made about Indy with this selection and talked more about how “the city meshes with what Amazon is seeking in areas including availability of a highly-skilled workforce, a solid university pipeline and an attractive live, work and play environment.”

What’s Next?

Amazon will now begin meeting with representatives from each finalist city in order to learn more about the communities. From these meetings, Amazon will assess each finalist and then announce the candidate it selects to host HQ2. This announcement is expected by the end of 2018.

Indy will share more with Amazon about its community, culture, and tech ecosystem over the coming months. One of those next big steps, Langellier says, is to get Amazon reps to visit the city. “It’s recurring among visitors that they say, ‘I had no idea that once I visited Indy, I would love Indy.”

As Indianapolis makes its case to be the home for HQ2, more people will come to discover the high-powered talent and healthy tech ecosystem that Indy possesses.