Amazon to Invest $5B in 2nd North America HQ

The Seattle-based e-commerce giant opened the request for proposals, giving metros with a million-plus population—and other qualifications—the opportunity to submit their bids for the mega project until Oct. 19, 2017.

Jeff Bezos, Amazon founder & CEO
Jeff Bezos, Amazon founder & CEO

Amazon is looking for a new headquarters site—rather, a second headquarters site to supplement its current downtown Seattle home base—and it’s opening the floor to cities across the country. The e-commerce and cloud computing leader just issued the Request for Proposal for Amazon HQ2, the construction of which will cost in excess of $5 billion over a 15- to 17-year period. 

Amazon HQ2 will be a second headquarters, however, it won’t play second fiddle. “We expect HQ2 to be a full equal to our Seattle headquarters,” Jeff Bezos, Amazon founder & CEO, said in a prepared statement. The project’s initial phase will deliver a minimum of 500,000 square feet, with future phases resulting in a campus exceeding 8 million square feet. HQ2 will house up to 50,000 new employees with high-paying jobs, as well as many existing senior leaders and their respective teams who will be given the option to relocate from the company’s corporate office in Seattle. 

If the new site is to mirror the current, cities bidding for HQ2 will be in for quite an economic boost. Amazon’s Pacific Northwest home first began to take shape in 2010 in downtown Seattle, and today, it consists of 33 buildings encompassing 9.1 million square feet of space, including restaurant and other retail offerings. Amazon invested $3.1 billion in buildings and infrastructure to create the campus. But of greatest note to hopeful hosts is the fact that additional investments in the local economy as a result of Amazon’s direct investments from 2010 through 2016 totaled $38 billion. “Amazon HQ2 will bring billions of dollars in up-front and ongoing investments, and tens of thousands of high-paying jobs,” Bezos added.

Amazon is casting a wide net in its search, but the company is also being quite selective. Urban or suburban cities responding to the RFP for Amazon HQ2 must have a population of at least 1 million and the ability to reel in and retain the cream of the crop in technical labor. Additionally, Amazon is seeking a business-friendly environment and, as noted in the RFP, “communities that think big and creatively when considering locations and real estate options.” Greenfield sites, infill sites, existing facilities, or a combination thereof will all be considered. Additionally, the ideal site will be within 45 minutes of an international airport; sited no more than two miles from major highways and arterial roads; and feature direct onsite access to rail, train, metro and bus routes.

Hats thrown in the ring from all around

Amazon opened the HQ2 RFP on September 7, and metros across the U.S. have wasted precious little time expressing interest. The City of Concord California, located in the tech-centric San Francisco Bay Area, announced that it will vie for the project. Delaware Gov. John Carney revealed plans to unite the state’s federal delegation, general assembly leaders, the New Castle County Executive and the Mayor of the City of Wilmington to craft a proposal. And Lehigh Valley Economic Development Corp. in Eastern Pennsylvania is already in the process of evaluating potential sites for the project.

“The competition will be fierce,” Don Cunningham, president & CEO of Lehigh Valley Economic Development Corp., said in prepared remarks. Cunningham noted that he expects to meet with Amazon officials at the Site Selectors Guild’s 2017 Fall Forum in Seattle, which will be held during the final week of September. Undoubtedly, Amazon officials will have many such meetings. 

The deadline for RFP submission for Amazon HQ2 is October 19, 2017.

Image courtesy of Amazon