Commentary

Amazon Has 238 Items On Its Shopping List For Second HQ

Amazon says 238 municipalities in North America — “from Vancouver to Chihuahua,” as one subhed puts it — have entered the competition to become its second headquarters city. It didn’t name names, but it did publish a two-hued map yesterday delineating the origins of pitches from “54 states, provinces, districts and territories.”

If you’re wondering if anybody doesn’t want Uncle Jeff — and the roughly “50,000 high-paying jobs” he says he’ll brings with him — to build his second HQ nearby, the answer is “a-yup” — but they’re in the vast minority. 

“Nearly seven out of 10 Mainers would be happy to see Amazon build its new $5 billion headquarters in or near their home community, a recent poll found,” writes Seth Koenig for the Bangor Daily News. “But that’s actually among the lowest levels of support in the country, where a Morning Consult survey found that Maine was one of only six states where fewer than 70% of the respondents said they would welcome the online retail giant’s ballyhooed new facility.”

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Indeed, the pitches “came from so many places across the continent that it’s perhaps simpler to note the ones that didn’t fall over themselves to woo Amazon,” writes Nick Wingfield for the New York Times. The states are North Dakota, South Dakota, Wyoming, Montana, Vermont, Arkansas and Hawaii.

“Some governors and mayors have already begun floating subsidies of as much as $7 billion while others have filmed online videos or launched marketing campaigns aligned with their bids. On the day bids were due, Oct. 19, buildings around New York City were lit orange to match the company’s logo,” reports Jonathan O'Connell for the Washington Post.

Then there’s “the city of Stonecrest, Ga., offering to set aside land and give it the city name of ‘Amazon,’” as Mike Snider reminds us in USA Today.

“The next step is for Amazon’s real estate team to sort through the bids and decide which proposals to consider more closely. It plans to make a decision early next year,” writes WaPo’s O’Connell.

Here and there, crusty reporters have been pointing out that welcoming Amazon won’t be all about bringing additional payroll taxes and improved property values to their locales.

“The combined state and local tax incentives that are being pitched to Amazon … are out — reported by both Fran Spielman of the Sun-Times and Greg Hinz of Crain’s — and the numbers are, unsurprisingly, real big,” writes Whet Moser for Chicago magazine,  before citing some specific details. “Those are the biggest elements of a package that adds up to $2.2 billion dollars, or about $45,000 per job that Amazon promises to create,” Moser concludes.

Many local publications are taking the angle of how many competitors their region is pitted against. 

“The Triad was among four N.C. areas, joining Charlotte, Hickory and the Triangle, in sending packages to Seattle filled with incentive proposals and recruiting ideas,” rues Richard Craver for the Winston-Salem Journal. “Site-selection experts and economists project the odds of the Triad winning HQ2 as very slim.” 

Writing that “by some accounts, Boston is one of the top contenders to land Amazon’s ‘HQ2,’ Boston.com’s Dialynn Dwyer and Nik DeCosta-Klipa list the strengths and weaknesses of its arguments, as well as those of the metropolises they perceive to be the city’s biggest rivals for Amazon’s affections. They are: Atlanta, Austin, Tex., Chicago, Dallas, Denver, Miami, New York City, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh and Washington. D.C.

“At the outset of this process, Amazon certainly had a select group of cities they felt would show the most promise,” said John Boyd, a Princeton-based location consultant, tellsPhilly.com’s Jacob Adelman. He also says “the large volume of applications received by Amazon is a result of many bids coming from single metropolitan areas, such as the Philadelphia region.” 

Now Amazon will “probably generate a short list of 10 to 15 serious contenders” and then  “begin making in-person visits to specific sites,” Boyd tells Adelman. He does not “expect Amazon to look any less favorably upon metro regions such as Philadelphia that submitted multiple bids,” Adelman writes.

“Amazon can walk and chew gum at the same time,” say Boyd. “They’ll sort this out.” 

 
1 comment about "Amazon Has 238 Items On Its Shopping List For Second HQ".
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  1. Paula Lynn from Who Else Unlimited, October 24, 2017 at 11:34 a.m.

    Define high paying jobs. Define what local and state services they will be using and how much and what they won't be paying for that the inhabitants will have to pay their tab. Is Amazon going to reconfigure and re-do the public transportation system that is so desperately needed or beyond a little advise bail out and improve the broken public school system they will help to strain in any city (Philadelphia, for sure) ? It's like wanting the Olympics and thinking you are going to come out ahead. 

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