Ever since Amazon announced plans last month to expand its corporate footprint with a second North American headquarters, cities have been scrambling to catch the Seattle-based e-commerce giant's attention. The company has said the project will be a "full equal" to its existing West Coast headquarters, with plans to invest more than $5 billion in construction, in addition to its promise of creating up to 50,000 new high-paid jobs.
Now, just over a month after the initial proposal, the bid deadline has come for cities to submit their proposals to host the new headquarters. And those locales have come out in force, from Chicago and the state of Illinois to Birmingham, AL. It's unclear what effects a new Amazon hub could have on the area tapped to host the development, but the presumed economic benefits have been enough to pique substantial interest. By Amazon's valuations, the company's investments in Seattle from 2010 through last year provided a $38 billion bump to the city's economy. Amazon, too, stands to benefit from the deal; the company has been met with billions in tax break incentives to lure the potential HQ2.
Still, while many hope the headquarters could mean an economic boom for their populations, the long-term impact of a mega-corporation's investment aren't all positive — just ask Seattle. Since Amazon set up shop 23 years ago, the resulting population boom has had lasting effects on the area's transportation infrastructure. Although the state is growing economically, Washington's influx of drivers has led to a marked increase in congestion. Seattle, largely because of Amazon's presence, is now approaching the top of the list of cities with the longest commute times. Although many are still turning out incentives, both financial and otherwise, in order to win the deal, others leery of Amazon's investment have called on the company to commit more resources toward its host city.
Amazon may have already narrowed its decision, but no one's out of the running yet. Officials have until Thursday to submit bids. Until then, here's what you need to know.
Not all those bidding for Amazon's next home are sold on the company's promise for its chosen location. Representatives from 85 organizations in 23 states penned an open letter to founder and CEO Jeff Bezos recognizing the company's list of desired characteristics while also setting forth their own criteria for Amazon's next headquarters. Amazon will still build HQ2 where it sees fit and operate the hub how it chooses, though the letter signifies cities' interest in actively partnering on and benefiting from those plans. Read more.
With one quarter of Amazon's 382,000 employees working in the company's research and development sectors, it comes as little surprise that the company could move to build its next headquarters in a city that already hosts one of its R&D centers. Having an R&D hub isn't among the key criteria laid out by the company, but cities like Atlanta, Boston and Austin, TX, that do house such centers could have an edge in the bidding process. Read more.
Although numerous cities have expressed interest in snagging Amazon's new headquarters, not all of them match the company's desired qualities for its next host. Amazon has said it's eyeing metropolitan areas topping more than 1 million people, a stable and business-friendly climate, and a location in the surrounding area that will entice technical employees. Based on those criteria, Anderson Economic Group ranked the 35 cities it said meet Amazon's requirements, with New York City topping that list. Read more.
Before cities submit their bids for the next Amazon headquarters, they may first want to look to Seattle. In the 20-plus years since the company planted roots there, Amazon's growth has spurred a building boom and produced tens of thousands of high-paying jobs. Still, such rapid growth has left Seattle unable to keep up with the area's population growth, leading to its own set of issues. Read more.
The company hasn't specified why it wants to build another North American headquarters, a key factor in determining HQ2's location choice. But as Amazon's presence in Seattle boosted the need for new buildings and infrastructure, cities vying to be selected for the new headquarters can likely expect to see similar results. Although the presumed economic benefits may be enough to fuel an area's desire to win the bid, a history of instability in the tech sector should have cities wary of the project's long-term prospects. Read more.
Just over a month ago, Amazon's initial announcement of HQ2 sparked frenzy among city and state officials hoping to capitalize on the company's expansion. Slated to live up to the standards set by its Seattle branch, the new headquarters is expected to bring billions in up-front and ongoing investments, in addition to 50,000 high-paying jobs, according to Bezos. But how the company intends to meet those expectations will depend heavily on the location it chooses and its ability to satisfy Amazon's criteria. Read more.