Amazon to open second headquarters, incites bidding war between cities

Mariah Partin, Staff Writer

 

Seattle is home to the headquarters of the world’s largest internet-based retailer, Amazon. What began as an online bookstore, started by Jeff Bezos in 1994, has grown to sell almost anything you can think of. Amazon is constantly exceeding expectations and surprising its customers with innovative ways to take over the market. Along with that, Amazon has brought thousands of jobs to the Pacific Northwest. Recently, they began a grocery delivery service in select cities.  In 2016, Amazon recorded 136 billion dollars in sales. Now the company is seeking another location to build its second headquarters, colloquially referred to as “HQ2”.

According to the New York Times, many cities jumped at the chance. 238 cities across North America have proposed a bid to Amazon. The only states that did not submit a bid were Hawaii, Wyoming, Montana, Vermont, Arkansas, North Dakota, and South Dakota. Applications came from Canada and Mexico as well. Since Amazon announced they were taking bids for HQ2, cities have pulled off outrageous moves to lure in the company. The new campus has reportedly been projected to bring in five billion dollars in investments and 50,000 jobs over the next two decades. Wherever they decide to go, Amazon will bring huge economic development to the winning city. Amusingly, Tucson, Ariz. sent a 21-foot tall Saguaro cactus to Seattle on a flatbed truck to accompany their offer, while the Canadian province of Calgary has put out an ad offering to fight a bear for Amazon.

While this bidding has given plenty of publicity to Amazon, there is controversy to Amazon’s request for tax breaks and other incentives to help the proposals. Newark, New Jersey is offering 7 billion dollars in tax breaks to Amazon’s new headquarters. According to Forbes, Amazon requires a large metro area, with a business-friendly environment, and a place attractive enough to retain strong technical talent. Amazon has asked their suitors to get creative and think big. According to the Seattle Business magazine, building a second headquarters is admission that Amazon cannot hire as fast as they need to in Seattle. Seattle has housing and transportation limits related to its limited space. Amazon needs to begin “scaling out” over “scaling up.”

Kevin Schofield, writer for Seattle Business magazine, pointed out that there are people Amazon would hire that refuse to move to Seattle. The question now is whether the new HQ2 will mean a lot for Seattle. The company employs over 24,000 people in Washington State. According to Geekwire, many in Seattle blame Amazon for bad traffic, rising housing costs and income inequality. Politico magazine said that while Amazon has brought great prosperity, they have turned Seattle into a “stressed-out, two-tier town with a thin layer of wealthy young techies atop a base of anxious wage workers.” They also commented that a city council member said HQ2 might allow Seattle a little breathing room. However, to Amazon’s suitors, any downsides pale in comparison to the upsides, as HQ2 would bring a lot of power to any city, and make it a “knowledge capital.” Amazon plans on revealing the location of their second headquarters sometime next year.

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