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Will Atlanta's airport outage hurt its Amazon HQ2 bid?

The massive power outage that ...

Posted: Dec 19, 2017 3:51 PM
Updated: Dec 19, 2017 3:51 PM

The massive power outage that crippled Atlanta's main airport on Sunday came at a particularly bad time. The city is believed to be a leading contender to host Amazon's second headquarters.

Experts cite Atlanta's cost of living, talent pool and access to the world's busiest airport as some of its top advantages.

But now one of its biggest selling points -- Hartfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport -- could also be a trouble spot.

"The timing is really horrible for Atlanta," Ilir Hysa, a senior economist at Moody's Analytics, told CNN Tech. "Amazon might be in the process of short listing who's in and who's out at this point."

The airport outage began with a fire at a Georgia Power underground electrical facility, according to Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed. The fire stranded passengers on planes and in dark terminals. More than 1,000 flights were canceled in and out of the airport. The cause of the fire is still being evaluated.

"[The airport] turns now from an attraction to sort of a problem," said Hysa.

Related: Cities are doing wacky things to host Amazon's second headquarters

While Hysa doesn't believe the incident will stop Amazon from choosing Atlanta, the outage will likely become a talking point.

"It definitely will be on its radar," he said. Amazon will probably want to learn more about what triggered the issue and whether it has the potential to happen again, Hysa added.

Earlier this year, Amazon encouraged cities to submit proposals to host its second headquarters. The company later said 238 cities and regions across North America sent in requests for consideration.

Amazon says it's looking for a suburban or urban area with more than 1 million people and access to mass transit, as well the ability to attract technical talent. The new facility, to be called HQ2, will cost at least $5 billion to construct.

In recent months, gambling site Paddy Power and Sperling's BestPlaces pegged Atlanta as the company's number one pick. Moody's listed Atlanta second behind Austin, Texas.

Related: The city Amazon picks for its second headquarters will change forever

However, Sunday's incident is a reminder of Atlanta's potential infrastructure issues. The city already suffers major traffic congestion and its public transportation system isn't as sophisticated as other cities, according to experts.

"Atlanta has done great work recently to improve infrastructure, but congestion remains a problem," Hysa said.

For example, the city broke ground last year on an $800 million improvement project for Interstate 285/State Route 400 to address traffic jams.

Still, an influx of 50,000 workers to the city would add to existing traffic problems, said Bert Sperling, founder and CEO of Sperling's BestPlaces.

Atlanta is the eighth most congested city in the world. The average commuter spends 70.8 hours in traffic per year, according to a 2016 survey from transportation analytics firm INRIX.

But Sperling doesn't expect drawbacks such as heavy traffic and Sunday's airport power outage to hurt Atlanta's chances with Amazon.

"The [outage] won't make an impact, unless it somehow points to a vast infrastructure meltdown," he said. "[Atlanta] maybe has less negatives than anywhere else does."

Marcelo Ballv- -- VP of intelligence at CB Insights -- agrees, noting the airport remains one of Atlanta's biggest assets.

"You can't do better than Atlanta if you're looking at an air hub, in terms of connections offered," Ballv- said.

Amazon declined to comment. The Atlanta Mayor's office did not respond to a request for comment.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 259117

Reported Deaths: 5668
CountyCasesDeaths
DeSoto17331186
Hinds16373328
Harrison13731199
Rankin10854217
Jackson10557187
Lee8922141
Madison8335166
Jones6483112
Forrest6038120
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Simpson238368
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Holmes169168
Clay161335
Tallahatchie148235
Stone145921
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Calhoun137621
Smith122725
Yalobusha119134
Walthall112836
Noxubee111423
Greene111029
Montgomery110136
Carroll105321
Lawrence103217
Perry102831
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Jefferson Davis85827
Benton83323
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Kemper78420
Quitman6969
Franklin67115
Choctaw61213
Wilkinson58825
Jefferson55419
Sharkey44017
Issaquena1596
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Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 429655

Reported Deaths: 6283
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson63040956
Mobile30794557
Madison27486201
Tuscaloosa20996268
Montgomery19352315
Shelby18833120
Baldwin16653184
Lee12749102
Morgan12389119
Etowah11861176
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Houston8746156
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Walker5954174
Jackson586341
Colbert539873
Blount537683
Autauga525755
Coffee450456
Dale402981
Franklin369948
Russell340711
Chilton338966
Covington332668
Escambia326043
Dallas308896
Chambers293170
Clarke287833
Tallapoosa2641107
Pike255230
Marion248953
Lawrence246649
Winston229535
Bibb218847
Geneva205446
Marengo202829
Pickens197531
Hale179542
Barbour176036
Fayette172928
Butler170858
Cherokee161930
Henry156523
Monroe149818
Randolph142135
Washington139126
Clay127645
Crenshaw121544
Cleburne119023
Lamar119021
Macon118637
Lowndes112036
Wilcox105121
Bullock101128
Perry99019
Conecuh95720
Sumter89626
Greene76623
Coosa61015
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