Jan 18, 2018
Amazon’s New HQ May be Coming to a Town Near YouBy Jeremy Quittner
How a huge corporate headquarters can impact a local economy
Amazon is looking to invest in some prime real estate–and it may even be coming to your hometown.
New York made the cut. So did Los Angeles, and Austin. You can also add Columbus, Ohio, and Toronto, Ontario to cities that may soon be getting a big boost to their economies when the e-commerce giant moves in.
Search for a new HQ
In September, 2017, Amazon announced it was embarking on a search for a North American city, where it could build a new office park that would serve as a second headquarters, in addition to the company’s base in Seattle, Washington. Initially 238 cities submitted bids for consideration.
It’s a big deal for any city that might wind up hosting Amazon. Here’s why:
- Amazon is promising to add 50,000 new jobs to whichever city it ultimately chooses. And not just any jobs. Many reportedly may pay on average about $100,000 annually.
- It also plans to invest about $5 billion in building its new facilities.
- Amazon said its investments in Seattle from 2010 to 2016 totalled $38 billion, and suggested Investment in the new city could easily equal that amount.
“We expect [the second headquarters] to be a full equal to our Seattle headquarters,” Jeff Bezos, Amazon founder and chief executive said in a statement in September, when the search kicked off. “Amazon HQ2 will bring billions of dollars in upfront and ongoing investments, and tens of thousands of high-paying jobs. We’re excited to find a second home.”
Cities in the running
Amazon has only looked at cities with 1 million or more inhabitants, and ones that have strong business-friendly environments, as well as urban and suburban environments that can attract strong talent, according to the company.
Here’s Amazon’s list of finalists:
- Atlanta, GA
- Austin, TX
- Boston, MA
- Chicago, IL
- Columbus, OH
- Dallas, TX
- Denver, CO
- Indianapolis, IN
- Los Angeles, CA
- Miami, FL
- Montgomery County, MD
- Nashville, TN
- Newark, NJ
- New York City, NY
- Northern Virginia, VA
- Philadelphia, PA
- Pittsburgh, PA
- Raleigh, NC
- Toronto, ON
- Washington D.C.
Why does Amazon need a second headquarters?
Amazon has never been entirely clear about why it needs a second headquarters, according to reports. But it has a stated goal of developing its technological capabilities, while shortening delivery times.
By setting up in a new locale, it can potentially tap new tech talent and create more geographic demand, according to some experts.
Not in our backyard?
There are some downsides. Amazon is likely to get billions of dollars in tax breaks for locating and building a headquarters in a new city. So, in essence, whichever city wins the bid could be paying to acquire Amazon’s presence. (Once the headquarters is built and Amazon is situated in that city, it’s likely to add substantially to the local tax base. The company is reportedly Seattle’s biggest taxpayer, for example.)
“We expect [the second headquarters] to be a full equal to our Seattle headquarters,” Jeff Bezos, Amazon founder and chief executive said.
Other critics of the e-retailing giant say that its presence has had a negative impact on Seattle, by making it a more expensive place to live, and by destroying its small-town charm. The new city could experience similar changes with a dominant Amazon presence.
What comes next
Amazon says it will take a deeper dive into the proposals submitted by each of the 20 cities. It will then choose one later in 2018.
More about Amazon
Amazon, one of the most powerful tech companies globally, has an influence felt far and wide. In addition to pioneering online shopping with door to door delivery of packages, the company is one of the biggest providers of cloud computing services.
Millions of small businesses sell goods and services on the company’s platform. In recent years, Amazon has also branched out into streaming video entertainment through its Prime service, and more recently groceries, via its purchase of high-end grocery store Whole Foods.
The company is known for technology innovations including its home assistant Alexa, as well as drone deliveries.
Other fast facts:
- Amazon was founded by Bezos in 1994, and originally just sold books. It currently employs 540,000 people globally.
- Its Seattle campus has about 8 million square feet of office space, in 33 buildings, and employs 40,000 workers.
- Amazon, which competes with Apple and Walmart for dominance in online retails sales, had $136 billion in sales in 2016, according to its most recent annual report.
- Bezos, the founder of Amazon, is the richest man in the world, worth nearly $100 billion.
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